Container shipping’s dire adoption of new technology this century has been laid bare in a damning report from analysts at Alphaliner.
In its latest weekly report Alphaliner says the container industry has remained “highly reluctant” to embrace the use of new technology.
“The shipping industry has continued to lag behind other sectors in innovation, with disruptive technologies failing to gain any visible foothold in the market,” the report maintained.
Alphaliner noted that venture capital interest in container logistics technology is largely focused on the areas of rate management, shipment visibility, predictive analytics, electronic bills of lading and container tracking, but none of the start-ups have been able to provide an integrated shipping platform or transformative new business model.
“The returns on digitisation initiatives for the shipping industry are still poor with few of the carriers able to leverage on these initiatives to attain any real competitive advantage,” Alphaliner claimed.
According to Alphaliner statistics, about half of all bookings for container shipments continue to be made manually, while up to a third of shipping invoices are reported to contain errors.
Alphaliner said the current shipping platform market leaders – INTTRA, GT Nexus and CargoSmart – provide only basic software service solutions to handle cargo bookings, shipping instructions, track and trace and exception management and reporting. The market still lacks a more holistic platform, Alphaliner argued.
Various attempts to introduce new e-commerce platforms and create a digital marketplace for container shipping have flopped, with Alphaliner saying notable failures included Maersk’s youship.com and the Journal of Commerce’s JOC Exchange.
Even Alibaba and Amazon’s recent forays into the container space have generated little actual shipping volumes despite the initial fanfare, the analysts reported.
In concluding Alphaliner suggested: “New technology initiatives that can combine the operation, documentation, information and financial flows across the entire supply chain would have a better chance of success than piecemeal efforts that only address part of the supply chain issues.”
Commenting on the report, K D Adamson, the CEO of consultancy Futurenautics, told Splash: “The pace of digital transformation in shipping hasn’t been fast enough, but the majority of the industry recognises that and, more importantly, many are actively trying to accelerate the pace of their transformations. It’s not just about doing existing things better, it’s about a reimagination of what you could do, if you build your business around the customer. That’s a tough challenge but I’m seeing more boards beginning to put their minds and money towards addressing it.”