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Shipping lines from each of the alliances have formed an association in a bid to develop “digitalisation, standardisation and interoperability”.
The move follows last week’s announcement of a joint blockchain platform comprising the Ocean Alliance and Yang Ming from THE Alliance, which triggered questions as to how the industry would standardise, given Maersk’s involvement with rival platform TradeLens.
But while all the alliances are represented in the new association, it includes only Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express for now. However, the association – which is neutral and non-profit – has said it will “welcome new members with open arms”.
It said it would be operating from early 2019, subject to any regulatory requirements and puts shipping a step closer to creating a cohesive IT infrastructure across the industry.
“It’s in the customers’ and stakeholders’ best interest, if container shipping companies operate with a common set of information technology standards,” said André Simha, chief information officer of MSC and group spokesperson.
“We are striving for less red tape and better transparency. The timing is right, as emerging technologies create new customer friendly opportunities. Together, we gain traction in delivering technological breakthroughs and services to our customers compared with working in our own closed silos.”
The association states firmly that it has no intention of developing or operating any digital platform, but aims to “ensure interoperability through standardisation”.
Noriaki Yamaga, managing director, corporate & innovation, at Ocean Network Express, said: “ONE sees a wave of innovation technology development in shipping and logistics industry over the recent years, which can bring good opportunity to the whole industry for digital transformation.
“But, at the same time, we’re a little bit cautious about adopting new technology by an individual company since there is no common standard in the market which may be ending up with re-integrating work among all stakeholders in the supply chain.
“With this mind, we feel it would be necessary to do some discussion and collaboration on the area of new technology and innovation to establish common IT standards and governance for the industry to streamline and digitise shipping process in a modern way.”
Adam Banks, Maersk chief technology officer, added that “a joint set of technical standards will ensure interoperability and enable all parties to concentrate on value adding differentiation … [benefiting] all parties in our customers’ supply chains”.