Top carriers’ plans for common standards will provide the foundation needed for digitalisation growth
There has been much talk about the growing importance of digitalisation within the box ship sector – and now I believe we have reached a breakthrough point with the plan by AP Moller-Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express to launch an association paving the way for digitalisation.
The group are not planning to develop a digital platform, but rather create common information technology standards which shall be openly available and free of charge for all stakeholders of the wider container shipping industry. This is an important point, because while there are several platforms being developed already, the creation of common standards to enhance interoperability and standardisation is a first for the industry.
Common standards are necessary to truly see digitalisation become a force within the container shipping industry and truly add value to all stakeholders within the supply chain, allowing processes to be streamlined, red tape to be cut and transparency boosted.
With several different platforms aimed at digitalisation being set up, with undoubtedly many more to follow, common standards will link these platforms and provide a common foundation. Indeed, as partner of SeaIntelligence Consulting Lars Jensen points out, a lack of standards leads to an “unconnected patchwork of solutions benefiting neither the carriers nor the shippers”.
The association said it will welcome new members with “open arms”. This is crucial – the more container shipping lines that join, the greater the opportunity to extend and enhance standardisation and ensure all the individual platforms and initiatives are linked up.
Some companies may be nervous about applying new technology. A common standards framework would provide reassurance.
The increase in digital platforms aimed at the box sector, coupled with this neutral non-profit organisation’s aims to set common standards, creates strong building blocks to really allow digitalisation to transform supply chain efficiencies.
It is set to launch in 2019, subject to regulatory requirements.