SPEAKER INTERVIEW - Christian Roeloffs & Johannes Schlingmeier
Can you provide 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. Most companies we speak to, highlight that they have an existing list of partners that they work with—but that finding and working with new partners is extremely difficult and time consuming. Each additional user on xChange currently leads to >175 additional partner connections, that are vetted by xChange and peer-reviewed by all other xChange participants. This distributes the cost of finding new and trusted partners to the network—and makes the industry as a whole, more efficient. We will give some background on how the xChange vetting and rating process works and how companies can make best use of this in their daily processes.
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 or opening up new revenue opportunities. Our session will provide a deep insight into how “trust” is created in networks such as xChange and how this can be used most efficiently in container logistics.
What would you say is the biggest issue being faced/discussed in your industry at the moment?
While all eyes are on the effects of overcapacity and last year's wave of mergers and acquisitions, issues being faced in the container shipping industry today are certainly very diverse. 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 repositioning’s—our focus at the Intermodal 2018 is the latter.
What do you think the biggest challenge for the industry will be in 2018?
While still somewhat behind other industries in deploying data analytics and digitalization, shipping does slowly open to embrace technology and (collaborative) data-driven business models. A key challenge will be to figure out which steps of the value chain can be digitized most effectively by which type of technology
What innovative measures should the industry adopt in the next few years to ensure market sustainability and growth?
For shipping lines (of which many are burdened with major debt), the time-period between 2010 and 2020 will be remembered as the decision period for independence and oftentimes 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.
Why do you think events such as Intermodal Asia are important for the industry?
Events like the 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!