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Ocean cargo carriers can take nothing for granted

The container shipping industry stands on the brink of an “era-defining moment” as it faces fundamental challenges, said Maersk Line CEO, Eivind Kolding
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
June 07, 2011

The tired old cliché, “thinking outside the box,” takes on new meaning when invoked by the world’s leading container shipping company.

The container shipping industry stands on the brink of an “era-defining moment” as it faces fundamental challenges, said Maersk Line CEO, Eivind Kolding. In a keynote address at a major EU logistics event, he declared that if container the shipping industry is to secure its right to operate in the future, the industry needs to change now.??

While Kolding, no doubt, holds his own political and religious convictions, he only shares his views on the business of shipping with his constituents. For this, he is to be applauded.

He noted that containerization – often referred to as the engine of globalization – revolutionized world trade. The potential it unlocked by connecting producers and consumers across the world enabled both shipping lines and their customers to develop their businesses in ways that previously had seemed impossible.

“However, container shipping, is also the story of an established business model that often disappoints customers: one in every two containers is late, shipping lines are complex to do business with, and the industry, even while being the most environmentally-friendly transportation mode, still lacks transparency and common goals,” he said.?

With examples from the automotive, aviation, portable music players and mobile phone industries, Eivind Kolding told the conference that just because an industry is established it may only be a “few years from being completely overtaken” by new technology. And, that market and customer behavior is forcing companies to “never lose sight of what customers really want” - including the needs that they are not even aware of.

“Why not see these as fantastic opportunities?” he asked. “What if we could guarantee that cargo would be on time, every time? What if placing a shipping order was as easy as buying an airline ticket? What if the shipping industry was known for beating environmental expectations – not struggling to meet them?”

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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