All the March Shipping News You Don't Want to Miss

We couldn’t be happier to close out the month with PORTCON Miami, where I had the privilege to speak alongside industry leaders about the power of Octopi TOS. Thanks to everyone who attended the event, and now here is a rundown of the shipping headlines you might have missed.

Partnerships & Acquisitions

Over the last several months we’ve seen new coalitions and alliance networks begin to take shape. With all the promise, however, comes increased need for safeguards as the FMC Commissioner explained at the 2017 TPM Conference. At the same event, executives highlighted the importance of checking carriers’ terminal selection when choosing liner services for new routes. You can build the biggest containership in the world, as MOL did, but if you can’t improve terminal efficiency, there’s no point.

THE Alliance is already taking precautions with a new trust fund to help safeguard operations in the event one of its members goes bankrupt. This development comes on the heels of the consortium’s announcement of a partnership with DP World on Asia-Europe and transatlantic services. Speaking of Asia-Europe trade, The Loadstar published a thought-provoking report on the possibility of yet another rate war as the three major alliances take off next month.

Earlier this year, news broke about mega-ships heading to the US East Coast. It looks like the Ports Authorities of Georgia and Virginia are already seeking a competitive edge with their new cooperative agreement. This echoes what’s happening at PortMiami as well, as SFCT & POMTOC get FMC approval for “cooperation” - which sounds like a pending merger to us.

Further south, Miami-based Florida East Coast Railway was acquired for $2.1B by mining giant Grupo México, which also operates the country’s largest rail fleet. Apparently, we’re building alliances with Mexico as well as a wall.

Signs of Shipping Growth

Positive news in the shipping market continues in 2017. CMA CGM reported a return to profit in Q4 ahead of its Ocean Three alliance launch next month. DP World too announced impressive financial results with profits surging around 28% for 2016. Others like Hapag-Lloyd and Hong Kong carrier OOCL were not so lucky given plunging freight rates last year. While both carriers have promising outlooks for 2017, they remain guardedly optimistic.

On the terminal side, we’re seeing rapid advances in technology and capacity. The Port of Liverpool successfully called its largest container ship, the 6,522 TEU HS Paris. In Mexico, mobile power and data solutions company Vahle electrified a portion of the Lázaro Cárdenas Terminal - the country’s largest semi-automated terminal.

Maersk continues to impress with its commitment to digitization. Not only have they reinforced their goal of becoming the “integrator of global shipping,” they’ve joined forces with IBM on a new blockchain initiative. We love the blockchain and believe it will be a humongous asset to the industry. But it is complicated a complicated matter. This video explains how the paper trails of tens of millions of global shipping containers will be managed and improved.

Shipping News & Trends

It seems the sky is not the limit for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who amid efforts to revolutionize trade, seeks to ship packages to the moon, according to Port Technology. Regardless, some believe Amazon’s ambitions in logistics could be inhibited by the amount of data required from shippers when employing the e-commerce giant as a freight forwarder. Some good news for all the freight forwarders out there - until Flexport comes for their lunch.

For additional insight into the future of logistics, this report breaks down the key challenges for logistics providers in 2017. One takeaway - innovation is beginning to take hold in the industry with the cash to back it. Just look at the recent $10 million raised by Brinng, a logistics platform for enterprises. We’re also excited about iContainers launch of its new Track & Trace platform which gives shippers real-time container tracking and status updates 24/7. We’re grateful to be here.

In the world of autonomous ships, Rolls Royce is set to open a state-of-the-art R&D center in Finland later this year as part of its collaboration with the Autonomous Shipping Alliance. However, despite all the interest and investment, the commercial future of autonomous transport remains largely unknown as a recent post from DIMECC points out. We’re in for quite a driverless ride.

Octopi Feature of the Month

Making data-driven decisions is a no brainer, but obtaining and understanding that data is more difficult. We recently added a “Punch Card Report” to chart gate movement and allow terminal operators to see what days and times they’re busiest. In the diagram below, the numbers along the X axis represent time and the size and intensity of the circle represents the amount of gate activity at that time. If you want to check it out first hand, reach out for a demo.


Have an interesting story or article you would like to share with us? Send it our way and we may incorporate it into our next newsletter. We’ll be back in April with another round of all the shipping news you don’t want to miss!