SPEAKER INTERVIEW - Christian Roeloffs & Johannes Schlingmeier
Can you give an overview of your conference topic/session? Why is this an important topic to discuss?
One of the key challenges all companies in container shipping and logistics face in their day-to-day operations is the significant cost of repositioning of empty containers: about $300-500m for a mid-sized global ocean carrier and $15-20bn for the industry as a whole. Roughly 2/3 of this cost is due to global structural imbalances (e.g., China exporting more than it imports) but the remaining 1/3 can be addressed by balancing out liner-specific imbalances through the exchange of equipment between companies. Over the past 18 months, The Boston Consulting Group has built BCG xChange – an online marketplace where already now over 75 carriers, leasing companies, traders, NVOs and forwarders are sharing containers. While xChange and other online tools can be a significant factor in improving efficiency and reducing costs, their implementation within an enterprise environment can be challenging and requires significant leadership focus. In our session we will provide a brief overview of challenges faced today, key success factors for the effective digitization of the container supply chain including tools like xChange and discuss concrete and actionable recommendations for management and logistics staff.
What can attendees expect to learn and discover from your session?
Likely attendees would be logistics responsibles in a wide variety of companies – both existing and non-customers (e.g., container carriers, NVOCCs, container leasing companies, container traders, other logistics companies) who are interested in reducing their level of empty repositioning. Our session will provide a deep insight into challenges faced today as well as potential solutions for digitizing the container supply chain including requirements for implementation
What do you think is the biggest issue being faced/discussed in your industry at the moment?
While all eyes are on the effects of overcapacity and rock-bottom rates, issues being faced in the container shipping industry today are certainly very diverse and addressed by BCG in a wide variety of projects. Topics range from commercial/yield management over optimal network design/vessel operations in times of bunker price uncertainty, global port congestions and procurement costs to more logistical issues like empty container repositionings—our focus at Intermodal 2017 is the latter.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in 2016?
While still somewhat behind other industries in deploying data analytics and digitalization, shipping does slowly open up to embrace technology and (collaborative) data-driven business models.
What do you think the biggest challenge for the industry will be in 2017?
For shipping lines (of which many are burdened with major debt), 2017 will mark an important year – for independence and often times survival. While many traditional cost-saving levers have been addressed widely, digitalization and big data capabilities are and will remain both key enablers and drivers of change at the same time. All container shipping market participants along the entire value chain need to make sure they stay in front of the wave by adapting their strategies, business models and enterprise processes accordingly.
What innovative measures should the industry adopt in the next few years to ensure market sustainability and growth?
Digitization (within and across company boundaries) are and will remain one of the most important topics to address over the next few years. Transportation and Logistics in general and Container Shipping in particular are still miles behind other industries in terms of digital adoption, the use of big data and analytics as well as shared "digital" industry standards and conventions
Why do you think events like Intermodal Asia are important for the industry?
Events like Intermodal provide a very useful forum for all participants in the container shipping industry to get together, address key trends, issues and implications for their business models—and last but not least create new business relationships!