MODERATOR INTERVIEW - Greg Knowler
Can you give an overview of your conference topic/session? Why is this an important topic to discuss?
The container shipping industry has just come out of a momentous year of change. Consolidation on a scale never before seen, the collapse of Hanjin Shipping and the redrawing of alliances has created huge uncertainty in the market. The huge imbalance between capacity supply and sluggish demand continues to place huge downward pressure on rates that carriers are trying to manage by cutting capacity through cancelled sailings and furiously scrapping ships.
What can attendees expect to learn and discover from your session?
Attendees can expect to leave the panel sessions with a clearer idea of the issues faced by shipping lines and their customers, and advice from industry experts on how to navigate the changing environment.
What do you think is the biggest issue being faced/discussed in your industry at the moment?
For shipping lines, overcapacity remains the greatest drag on their profitability. Scrapping levels have increased, and the age of ships being demolished has come down, which is a good thing. But demand growth is expected to stumble along at low single digit percentages for the next few years, and that means there is simply not enough cargo to fill the ships that continue to flood into service, especially the mega ships that can only be deployed on Asia-Europe.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in 2016?
Hanjin Shipping's collapse showed that liner bankruptcies can happen, so shippers should spread their containerized eggs around the alliance baskets.
What do you think the biggest challenge for the industry will be in 2017?
For container lines, keeping freight rates above breakeven levels is going to be difficult in such a weak demand environment.
What innovative measures should the industry adopt in the next few years to ensure market sustainability and growth?
Digitisation of supply chains is going to be crucial going forward. It will improve efficiency, visibility and hopefully take costs out of the system.
Why do you think events like Intermodal Asia are important for the industry?
Industry events gather experts in their fields to discuss the challenges facing their business, and while leaving with all the answers is unlikely, the more information a supply chain manager can take away, the better decisions he can make.