The Journal of Commerce-organised TPM, container shipping’s top event, closed its first virtual gathering yesterday, ending a week-long deep dive into global supply chains spread over more than 50 sessions.
Among those speaking on the final day were Andre Simha, the global chief digital and information officer at Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), as well as Lars Jensen, one of the world’s best known container shipping analysts.
Simha, who is also chairman of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), discussed digital priorities for liner shipping during his 30-minute Q&A.
The good thing about video calls is that you can’t really talk about the weather so you focus
“We need to talk more about predicability rather than just visibility,” Simha urged. He reinforced a message he has been championing for years that standards are key if liner shipping is to go more digital.
“We need that common language so we don’t have to translate language coming from different sources,” Simha said, something the DCSA, which he helped found, has been actively trying to address in recent years.
Simha said all those involved in global supply chains ought not to be afraid of sharing information, something that ought not to be a problem if predictability is improved.
In terms of this year’s priorities, Simha said it was vital to bring more parties onboard from across the supply chain and to adapt and adopt.
“We are moving away a little bit from the pure competition and we’re engaging more and more into these peer to peer conversations where I can talk to these other carriers, we can have an open discussion, we can plan things together to make the industry better and that’s non-competitive,” Simha told TPM delegates.
Speaking from a chilly Copenhagen port, Lars Jensen, the founder of SeaIntelligence Consulting, wrapped up the conference, giving a bullish outlook for carriers for 2021 and the coming years.
Jensen said container shipping, which has been enjoying extraordinary rates in recent months, is at the beginning of an up-cycle having finally worked its way through more than decade’s worth of overcapacity. Jensen said 2022 and 2023 would see a strong upside for the carriers, with newbuild orders remaining muted and the vicious price wars that have dogged liner shipping previously, Jensen said, were now largely “a thing of the past”.
TPM, founded in 2001, is the largest annual liner conference. Normally anchored at Long Beach, the event was one of the first big, high-profile ones to cancel last year as coronavirus spread across the US, with many delegates in mid-air en route to Los Angeles when the decision was made to nix the show.
“The good thing about video is that when you do have a video call you can’t really talk about the weather so you sort of tend to focus on the topic,” quipped Simha, a 34-year veteran at MSC, on changes in how the world communicates these days during the pandemic.