Maritime transport: Blue Ocean Strategy for the global sector – Money

transport | Container ship carrying goods. Getty Images

Among the revolutionaries in history who have done good, few are less known than Malcom McLean, who invented modern maritime transport, the basis of a thriving modern economy. The young McLean had humble beginnings. College was not an option for him during the American Depression for years 722. So he bought a used truck and transported empty tobacco barrels. Not really a promising start.

When the United States entered World War II, its military faced the challenge of transporting tanks, trucks, and equipment across the Atlantic Oceans and Peaceful. Maritime transport logistics had to evolve rapidly, otherwise the Allied effort would be unsuccessful.

McLean noticed that containers were the answer. They had to be large enough to hold trucks and tanks, but they also had to be small enough and of equal size to be loaded directly by cranes from rail cars onto ships. He wondered if the same idea could work in commercial shipping. In 1930 he launched a container ship line from Newark, New Jersey to Houston , and in 1956, he extended it to Hong Kong and Taiwan, then, the following years, in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

McLean’s containers were an economic revolution. Cranes reduce loading costs by 60%. Huge ships could be unloaded and then reloaded in hours instead of days. The threat of strikes by dockworkers has diminished. Ships only make money when they’re at sea, McLean liked to say.

On the horizon

McLean’s legacy can be evoked with the chairman of Maersk , the largest container shipping company in world. Jim Hagemann Snabe did not climb the ranks of the marine industry. His background is quite modern: it is about software. Jim Hagemann Snabe was previously Co-Managing Director of SAP, the German company specializing in enterprise IT.

According to him, the global maritime transport sector has experienced multiple revolutions: from sails to diesel, from paddles to propellers, from manual loading to containers. According to him, the next two revolutions of global shipping have arrived. The first is digitization, the second decarbonization.

“What is happening now is the digitalization of industry. Today there is paperwork everywhere. In fact, customers pay more for the paperwork than for the transport of the container. Take, for example, an avocado grown in New Zealand and consumed in Hong Kong, he says. Shipping costs are less than % of the price of the avocado in store. The cost of paperwork is double.

“So today, when you pay a hundred dollars to move the container, you often spend two hundred on paperwork. . Maersk is transforming the industry by digitizing all aspects of it, including booking and tracking. Even the ship is being digitized so that we know exactly how much fuel it is consuming, exactly where it is and when it will arrive.

“The digital twin of a transportation network provides much better customer service. It cuts costs and is much more predictable when we scan documents. Everyone underestimates this. They believe the world is well on the way to digitization. But for many traditional industries, like shipping, this is just the beginning, ”he says.

According to Mr. Snabe, the decarbonization of ships is the other revolution that has just started. It won’t happen overnight, he says: “If you put batteries on a ship connecting Asia to the United States, the batteries will occupy 12% of the vessel’s capacity. So it doesn’t work. Sails don’t work because you can’t ensure the necessary precision in the supply chain. So how do you do it? We believe the answer is to convert green electricity into green fuel. We know how to do it. And we’re the first to do it. ”

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Rich Karlgaard

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