Reliability, responsiveness and communication top shipper wish list at TOC Container Supply Chain Asia 2012 conference
London, 16.04.2012 - Better partnerships and collaboration among cargo owners, shipping lines and logistics operators is the key goal for industry executives keen to make the most of Asia’s growing economies and robust markets, said Mark Holloway, APAC Customer Service and Logistics Director for drinks giant Diageo, at the recent TOC Container Supply Chain Asia 2012 conference in Hong Kong. The 3-day conference and exhibition was attended by nearly 1,000 container logistics, transport and port industry executives from Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas.
Speaking to a high-level audience of shippers, carriers, 3PLs, ports and other Asia container supply chain members gathered for the annual event, Holloway emphasised that better partnerships should aim to improve services for customers and eventually win their trust. “We are becoming more customer-centric and need our partners to do the same,” he said, noting that for Diageo, performance today is “as much about planning and logistics as procurement and manufacturing.” The complexity of container booking documentation, limited proactive information, data fragmentation along the supply chain and highly variable delivery performance were among the key logistics challenges that he highlighted.
Holloway added that the size of the vessel carrying the cargo, or whether a 3PL is involved, matter far less than knowing whether containers will arrive on time. And in case of change or delay, shippers simply want sufficient forewarning so that they can mitigate the effect before it impacts the whole supply chain. In short, there is often a lack of proper end-to-end visibility between all the parties.
Significant changes in Asia trade volumes and patterns in the coming few years will drive greater demand for fast response logistics oriented towards import and domestic business, said keynote conference speaker Tommy Lui, Executive Vice President of global procurement specialist Li & Fung. Outlining the tremendous potential that will persist across Asia, and why the region is likely to remain the fastest growing trading area in the world, Lui noted that the ‘golden triangle’ of the region’s three most populous countries – China, India and Indonesia – are all projected to maintain annual economic growth rates of at least 9% for the next 3-4 years.
However, there are some significant changes on the horizon, particularly in China, summed up by slower export growth yet soaring domestic trade. The past assumption that Chinese growth is built solely on an almost unlimited supply of cheap labour is fast disappearing as rapidly rising wage rates in the country’s manufacturing heartland force more and more industry into China’s interior.
Similar patterns can also be seen in India and Indonesia as the growing middle class looks to consume more. This will likely generate significant changes in trade volumes and patterns, with import and domestic logistics growing much faster than export-oriented logistics, requiring responsive logistics strategies to cope with fast changing consumer tastes and demands.
The effect of China’s urbanisation and consumer market growth was also discussed by Juan Manuel Gonzalez, Managing Director, Asia Region for Hapag-Lloyd, who explained how the carrier is remodelling its China sales strategy along the lines of its North American operations, with more field offices in the hinterland and a greater focus on import trades.“TOC Asia provided a good opportunity to exchange views on industry trends and to learn the latest about infrastructure development and terminal capacity long term outlook,” said Gonzalez.
Not least of the challenges for Asian port and terminal infrastructure going forwards will be the coming wave of ultra large container vessels. Speaking alongside Gonzalez, Frank Jensen, CEO of shipping analyst SeaIntel cautioned that the phase-in of mega vessels will impact all trades, including intra-Asia, as carriers and owners seek to cascade vessels. Scale advantages in terms of unit costs and service frequency will also continue to drive a trend towards consolidation in the shipping industry, he added.
The practicalities of accommodating larger container vessels coming on stream over the next few years were addressed by Halfdan Ross, Managing Director, APM Terminals Crane & Engineering Services, part of the APM Terminals group. Ross said that his company is already studying how to cater for 22,000 TEU capacity ships, even before Maersk Line’s first 18,000 TEU Triple-E vessels enter service in 2013. Planning for crane and other infrastructure support to accommodate such vessels and the sheer volumes of containers needed to be loaded and discharged is a necessary exercise for any major hub port, he observed.
Ross examined issues and solutions applicable to quay cranes intended to accommodate the larger vessels entering into service, as well as the design or reinforcement of the quays themselves. Improved engineering, and camera-assisted and remote control of crane operations were some of the solutions presented, though increased power requirements may also pose obstacles, particularly in emerging market areas where power generation or supply can be challenging, he noted.
“Beginning here in Hong Kong this past March, TOC CSC Asia is embarking on a period of strategic growth and development, said Paul Holloway, Event Director TOC Worldwide. “Added to our 15 year heritage of delivering top quality market, technical and operational information for ports and terminals in Asia, we are pleased that major BCOs, carriers and 3PLs have now joined our community,” Continued Holloway: “TOC believes that ports represent one of the most critical links in the container supply chain and also that there are very real benefits to be gained by gathering all the parties together to address the issues, including critical perspectives from those at the very top of the supply chain. This is the start of something truly exciting for this brand moving forwards.”
TOC Container Supply Chain Asia returns to Hong Kong in 2013 from 12-14 March. Once again the event will include a 2-day high-level container supply chain conference, free-to-attend port operations and technology seminars, a major exhibition of port and terminal services, equipment and technology, and industry networking receptions. New for 2013 will be the addition of bulk port operations and technology seminars.