Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Floating nuclear power plants at sea

Since the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant the industry has started looking at offshore alternatives that they believe will be much safer.

In fact, Russia is already building the first floating plant called the "Akademic Lomonosov"(pictured) which will be operating by 2016. This is essentially a vessel that will be docked at a wharf in Vilyuchinsk and will be connected to the local electricity grid and steam lines. The vessel can be easily mobilised in the event of a mishap away from the town.


Russian nuclear power concept

Akademic Lomonosov under construction
In the USA, MIT has another floating nuclear power plant concept that is thought will be tsunami and earthquake proof. The MIT design stations much bigger nuclear power plants much further offshore much like a floating oil platform. In the event of an incident it is further away from major population centres and there is also sea water available that could be used to cool rods and stop them melting down.

Despite major incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl, it appears that nuclear power is here to stay and our oceans and shipping industry are about to start playing a role in meeting our energy needs.

All for now,

Friday, 18 April 2014

Cheaper Australian coastal shipping services ahead...finally!

Back in June 2012 I posted this blog about the then Federal Government's changes to shipping legislation that they somehow thought would revitalise shipping in Australia and lead to more coastal services. 

I reported in that post that the new legislation was actually having the reverse affect as many ship owners ceased their Australian coastal shipping services. That legislation lead to them being burdened with additional government charges, increased salaries for foreign crew who had to be paid at Australian award rates and significantly more red tape and paperwork to deal with. The few carriers that still offered a service were forced to pass on these costs and rates were hiked making shipping some cargo by sea more expensive than road or rail.

The bottom line was that my clients businesses were burdened with additional transportation costs that they could ill afford and Australian shipping wasn't revitalised one iota and indeed it regressed in my opinion.

This month the new Liberal Government announced a review of this legislation and released this option paper entitled "Approaches to regulating Australian Coast Shipping".



Sensibly this options paper contemplates removing all regulation of coastal shipping and to actively minimise all industry burden and costs.

Depth Logistics' is already gearing up our Australian Coastal Shipping Service in preparedness for our clients directing more of their domestic cargo back to sea. Furthermore we will be making a submission firmly advocating, on behalf of our clients, the negative impacts the current legislation has had on them and explaining why it MUST go. If you would like any particular concern, idea or view you may have expressed on you or your companies behalf, then please either make a comment in this blog post or contact us.

Stay tuned to this blog or follow +Depth Logistics or +Brad Skelton on Google+ for updates as this review unfolds. 

Rest assured Depth's team and I will do everything we can to influence the right outcome for our clients and industry.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Have you tuned out to advertising as well?

In this blog I have written about changes and restructuring of the way business is being done globally. Nearly every industry is being challenged in some way.

I believe advertising is no different and think that people are tuning out to traditional forms of advertising no matter what channel is delivering it. It is literally overwhelming how much our senses get assaulted by advertising these days as corporations try to be heard more loudly than their competitors.

The internet has changed the landscape. Once the power in any sales transaction rested mainly with the seller. Now the pendulum has swung and with the help of the internet and smartphones the buyer now has the power to immediately price check globally and verify facts to see which companies are telling them the truth. 

This YouTube clip illustrates perfectly why we are tuning out to traditional advertising.



Authenticity, transparency and a fair price is what earns a buyers trust, attention and spend. By the way, you don't sell anything unless there is a transfer of trust!

I also believe there is a change in consciousness of buyers and what corporate messaging and advertising they choose to listen too. And YES...this is increasingly a CHOICE and therefore further undermines the power of advertisers and big corporate. Social media is impacting this massively where customers CHOOSE to follow certain companies and brands online. Word of mouth is everything and today word of mouth is mostly online.

Even a tiny one person start company can be heard above big corporate advertising campaigns these days and frequently smaller businesses are immediately trusted more. Particularly by the Millennials who live on social media and forums for nearly all their needs.

So how can big corporate keep our attention? 

I think they need to get fair dinkum about embracing social entrepreneurial-ism and work out how they can make a difference to our community and planet. +Pepsi  is one big corporate who has done a great job of this with their Pepsi Refresh Project. In essence they diverted $20m in marketing spend toward ideas that could have a positive impact on the community. 

This not only did a lot of good, but the publicity, trust and advocacy this earned them far outstripped the return on investment they would have otherwise received through spending this money directly on more advertising noise.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 



Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How far off is the Circular Economy?

So what is a circular economy I hear you ask?

The best way to explain a circular economy is to look at our current linear economy. Our economy today is mainly driven through taking in material from the ground, manufacturing something, and ultimately that material or product, gets thrown away.While the world is progressively recycling more, with a circular economy you go further in that you design products to be regenerative. Therefore you design a car for re-manufacture, dis-assembly and de-componentisation. A circular economy allows for the materials that sit within the global economy that currently get thrown away to go back in. 
Economically this will involve everything from different financing of those products and materials to different business models. Do we sell the product...or...do people pay per use of the product or those materials for the period of time they have possession of it?
This short YouTube clip illustrates the concept nicely.

Commodity prices have been trending up for a long time and most are becoming increasingly scarce. Adopting circular economy principles radically changes the rules of production and manufacturing costs. Environmental impact would also be reduced. The gains for us all are potentially be enormous.
There are so many exciting changes happening as global competition gains more momentum. We are seeing new industries spring up and many old economy businesses fall by the wayside. For any company to have a long term future it's senior management must be scanning the horizon to ensure that they are not only competitive at home but globally competitive. 
Adoption of modern thinking such as circular economy principles will certainly be another contributor to long term viability of businesses and sustainability.
What can you do in your business to move toward this and what opportunities do you see?
All for now,

Friday, 31 January 2014

Crack down has started on RoRo carriers for alleged unfair practices

It seems that the Japan Fair Trade Commission and the US Federal Maritime Commission have finally acted against carriers alleged to be engaged in unfair practices that have violated antitrust laws.

Personally I am very pleased to see the authorities getting tough. My clients and I have been on the receiving end of these types of practices on the USA to Oceania trade lane where one carrier always tried to force 100% commitments of cargo to them in shipping contracts. This obviously closes out competition and is unfair. My USA based lawyers advised that this practice runs foul of both US and European Union competition law but nonetheless they held their stance.

WW, K Line, Nissan Motor Car Carrier, NYK, Eukor and MOL have all been under scrutiny by regulators.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen(WW) has been fined US$33 million for alleged unfair practices in the Japan to Europe trade lane.


K Line has provisioned for a JPY5.7bn fine from the Japan Fair Trade Commission this year. To put the size of this fine into perspective their forecast profit to March 31 this year is JPY16bn.
Hopefully fairer competition and better rates will result from this crack down on carriers.
All for now,

Friday, 24 January 2014

How would your cargo fair on a ship in stormy seas like this?



I think this Youtube clip says it all...

I was recently told about this company by my friend, +Verne Harnish  .Thanks to services offered by +Fleetweather Inc shipowners now have resources available to help avoid bad weather at sea.


FleetWeather is a professional marine weather consulting firm that provides a service to the shipping industry to help route vessels away from heavy weather. Their team of marine meteorologists and ship routers gather information to inform vessels of the quickest and safest route to take to their next port. Whilst many companies continue to shift more to automation and providing stand-alone software offerings, FleetWeather continues to deliver a combined solution of technology and analysts, while maintaining a high emphasis on quality service, customized offerings and client successes. With some things you just can't beat the human element.


This innovative service provides insight and critical intelligence, giving global shipping leaders the ability to manage changing conditions, opportunities and complex decisions resulting in improved safety, increased profits through improved vessel performance and reduced operating costs and fuel consumption.


Above all...this service means less cargo claims and lower environmental impact from shipping disasters. To clients of +Depth Logistics this is what matters to them.


All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rolls Royce is predicting drone cargo ships will be operating within a decade.

I recently blogged about Amazon working toward octocopter drones to deliver orders to customers within 30mins from the time of order. At the time of writing this blog I didn't realise that Rolls Royce , who is a major supplier to the maritime industry, are on a similar path with unmanned drone cargo ships likely to become a reality in less than ten years.

Existing GPS, radar and visual controls make this is entirely possible. The main stumbling block is complex international rules governing shipping and environmental considerations in case of mishaps. For example there is a current requirement in international maritime law for another vessel to go to the aid of another. Perhaps drone ships could be exempted from this requirement?

Another potential impediment is navigating around other vessels at sea that might not have GPS navigation and anti-collision technology such as small fishing or recreational boats. This is currently done by radar and visual sighting of craft from the bridge of the vessel. It is likely that control rooms would be set up to monitor unmanned vessels and take remote control to deal with certain situations that may arise. Real time video feeds can go to the control room from cameras installed around the unmanned vessel so they can physically see what the vessel may be confronting.

There is a research project already running called "MUNIN" which stands for "Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligent Networks. Learn more about Munin.

The MUNIN concept of unmanned vessel operation
The current thinking is that ships would be only be manned as they navigate departure and arrival of ports and their associated channels. Pilots roles would change to accomplish this where they would physically operate the vessel for these segments of the vessels voyage and then switch the vessel to remote and then get off the ship.

Operationally there are some significant gains commercially and environmentally. Vessels can steam more slowly thus using less fuel and creating less emissions. The reason they can steam more slowly is because is purely due to the fact that there is less pressure from the crew to get back to shore. The design of vessels can also change allowing more room for stowage of cargo as there will be no need for accommodation quarters and amenities for the crew. Obviously the ship owners would no longer have to pay the salary of crew as well.

For shippers drone cargo ships would translate into lower freight and charter rates. Of course not every type of vessel would be able to operate with this technology. In the short term bulk carriers and pure container ships would likely be enabled first.

Technology is impacting numerous industries and their are winners and losers but I am excited about the future and pleased to see the shipping industry actively embracing it.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton