Saturday, 19 November 2016

Lockheed Martin Airships are the next generation in transport

About four years ago +Julie Magnone and I were meeting with one of our energy logistics clients. We had been engaged for our oversize logistics expertise to collaborate with their engineers in designing modules of their gas production plant. The goal being to optimise the design for operational efficiency, cost effective construction and transport.
From a pure construction and operational integrity standpoint the engineers were wanting to build modules as large as possible. So large that it made the land transport task impossible. We could easily transport the module sizes they wanted from overseas to the Port of Brisbane but getting them to site in central Queensland at that size was impossible due to numerous overhead bridges, power lines, railway lines, narrow roads etc en-route.
I remember clearly one of the engineers refusing to accept it was impossible and seriously demanding that we find airships that could move the cargo to site from the Port of Brisbane. Julie and I left the meeting thinking that he was slightly mad but nonetheless we did some research anyway and at that time there wasn't any airship flying capable of lifting more than a few tonnes at the most.
Well...not anymore thanks to Lockheed Martin.

A prototype, like the one pictured, is operational. It has a 7X improved cargo payload compared to what we found in earlier generation airships of 21000kg. The cargo bay is 18m long x 3m wide x 3m high and able to accommodate standard shipping containers and various other types of loads.
These airships can travel at a speed of 60 knots or 111km/h and have a range of about 2500km. Due to a special air cushion landing system, much like a hovercraft concept, they can land on water as well.
For transport into remote areas these airships are far superior than helicopters in nearly every respect. They are quieter and more fuel efficient as well!

While the current prototype still could not solve the transport task our client set for us it is fair to say it probably won't be too long before cargo bays and payloads starting increasing making Airship cargo transport a commercial reality.
Depth Airships here we come!
All for now,

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

NYK, MOL and K Line to merge container operations

Yesterday the three largest Japanese shipping lines Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line), Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) announced their agreement, subject to sign off by their respective boards and shareholder/regulatory approval, to establish a new joint-venture company and to integrate their container shipping operations.

M&A activity is sweeping the shipping industry globally as carriers in the wake of the Hanjin Shipping receivership fight to survive. The current wave of M&A activity is more about addressing structural industry issues by strengthening balance sheets, addressing poor investor returns and adapting to a low growth environment.

The industry still suffers from surplus capacity so M&A activity is needed to realign carriers and find synergies in cost reduction, economies of scale, improved competitive positioning and better protection from the prevailing weak industry fundamentals.

This announcement is another positive step for the industry where a significant number of carriers have not made money in the recent years. People that were affected by Hanjin's demise know the problems this caused and is still causing so hopefully another failure by a major carrier can be avoided.


The industry must navigate it's way back to a healthy and sustainable performance for all stakeholders as fast as it can.
All for now,

Friday, 23 September 2016

New generation of car carrying ships now able to use the expanded Panama Canal

The term "Panamax" refers to ships of a size able to use the original Panama Canal. Prior to the expansion of the canal, which opened in July this year, some ships could not use the shortcut between North and South America. They were simply too big. Therefore many ships were designed and built to a maximum, "Panamax" size.

Since the opening of the expanded canal even the worlds largest ships can travel via the canal thus saving time and money. Ship owners have been building new bigger ships to take advantage of the improved economies of scale. These are called "Post-Panamax" ships.

Hoegh Autoliners now operates the worlds largest PCTC(Pure Car & Truck Carrier) and Post-Panamax ship in the "Hoegh Target". In fact she is the first PCTC of this size to transit via the canal.

The "Hoegh Target" can carry an incredible 8500 cars and has 71400 square metres of deck space. Importantly she is very fuel efficient and Hoegh claim will halve the emissions per car that they carry.

Here are a some pictures of her in the expanded Panama Canal.



Innovative vessels like this and the expanded Panama Canal are contributing to keeping freight rates lower for shippers.
All for now,

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Trade Finance is a way to ship more inventory more often

I have been pleased to be able to help many of Depth Logistics' clients with Trade Finance to fund their import and export activity. As I have spoken to many of them I have been surprised that most haven't even heard of this type of financing but when they do the majority have embraced it even if to reduce their reliance on financing from their bank.

It can give you greater and more transparent buying and selling power and the ability to ship more inventory, more often without tying up working capital.

For the uninitiated here are more of the key benefits of Trade Finance.
  • Available for imports and exports
  • Increase your negotiating buying power by being able to pay your supplier faster
  • Export more by being able to offer your buyer credit terms
  • Approvals within 5 days with a single establishment fee
  • Competitive interest rates available with up to 90 day terms
  • Does not interfere with existing bank security arrangements or letters of credit
  • Security is taken over the goods and a director’s guarantee only
  • Easy shipping and marine insurance arrangements via Depth Logistics
  • Credit facility is available in multiple foreign currencies
  • Bridge the gap between your shipping and other finance facilities such as Debtor Finance
Depth Logistics works in tandem with Depth Capital to provide this service so please contact me if you'd like to learn more about it.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Ross Radich is back with our team at Depth Logistics

In the past month I have been extremely happy to have re-joined forces with +Ross Radich who is back working with the familiar team and clients at Depth Logistics as our Biosecurity Consultant.

Ross was originally a New Zealand Quarantine officer before joining my team about 12 years or so ago. He is a true gentleman, very reliable, diligent and always gets even the most difficult jobs done in a good humored manner. It's a sincere privilege to work with him.

During this time Ross has lived and travelled literally all over the world working with our clients and their suppliers making sure that cargo destined for Australia and New Zealand is prepared before shipping to minimise quarantine risks and achieve the smoothest possible clearance on arrival. In fact Ross has a perfect record on cargo he has inspected and prepared with not a single re-export order ever being issued.

The characters he has met, the places he has gone and the stories Ross has collected along the way are often amazing and funny. Ross written a book of them in fact and it's available on Amazon.


I really enjoyed reading the book and recalling many of the situations and stories. It's a great and entertaining read with good insights into the great work Ross has done not only for our clients, but in the big picture, in helping to minimise quarantine risks for Australia and New Zealand.
I hope you might buy a copy so we can help add "Best Selling Author" to Ross' list of accomplishments.
All for now,

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The 20-Year-Old With a Plan to Rid the Sea of Plastic

As the branding of Depth Industries suggests the team and I all have a strong affinity with the ocean.

I came across this amazing project that promises to clean up the oceans of the estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic floating out there that is even gradually entering our own food chain through seafood. Check out this YouTube clip.




A simple but brilliant idea!

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Please help me to help the homeless at the Vinnies CEO Sleepout

The latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 105,237 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness, with 60% of those under the age of 35. Perhaps surprising to many people is that 44% of these are women, 13% are under the age of 12. These figures in a lucky country like Australia are disgraceful.

On 23 June 2016 I will join with Brisbane’s community leaders and CEOs to spend one night on the streets as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. We will experience homeless life in an endeavour to raise awareness and crucial funds for St Vincent’s homeless services.


Last year I raised $1,520.00 through donations from clients, suppliers, family and friends. This year I am aiming to better this amount and hope you will join with me to do so. Please click here to sponsor me and donate to support this great cause.

Thank you!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Global ship traffic as seen from space

I came across this fascinating (1min 40sec) YouTube clip of one weeks global shipping traffic as seen from space courtesy of Fleetmon.

Take a look...



All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Freight forwarders quotation trick #69

My team and I at Depth Logistics always give our clients comprehensive and fully transparent quotes that they can reliably budget on. This is a non-negotiable thing for us.

That being said, increasingly we are competing against operators who are at best convenient in how they present their quotations, or at worst, plainly try to mislead shippers about the true landed costs just to secure the booking.

One trick we see nearly every day relates to Australian Customs and Quarantine import charges charges which are published on government websites. Specifically EEC(Electronic Entry Charges) and DAWR(Dept of Agriculture and Water Resources) entry and inspection fees.



Unscrupulous freight forwarders will not quote these actual charges in dollar terms to a client as if they did it increases their quotation per shipment by sometimes A$2-300.00+ depending on the cargo type and import declarations required. Instead they say things like "Plus government charges" or "Plus EEC and DAWR fees" if the client is lucky.

Price is an important driver of most clients decisions as to who they trust to move their cargo. When they are making their decision they innocently compare quotes where a professional forwarder actual identifies the exact costs, because you can, against another operator who intentionally is vague(Plus Govt charges). They total the various dollar amounts listed in the quotes and compare who is the most competitive.

It is not until they get billed and find that these charges were not identified specifically in the original quotation that they realise they have actually paid too much overall.

To make matters worse operators who do this usually add EEC onto the import duty and GST on their invoice to disguise the charges further which they know will often go unnoticed by the client. If they get found out and queried later they hide behind "But our quote said Plus Govt charges" and the poor client is snookered.

So be aware of this freight forwarders quotation trick and insist that whoever you get quotations from always identifies all charges in dollar terms so you can compare apples with apples.

If you need any further clarification or want to check what you might have been billed previously, I'd be pleased to help.

+Brad Skelton 

Monday, 4 April 2016

How many containers can ships carry?


The larger container ships can now carry up to 19000+ 20' containers!

The economies of scale and lower fuel costs are driving rates down. Please contact me if you want to check if what you are paying now is at current market levels.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Coal still has a future

The local economy in Queensland is currently hurting badly as coal miners falter with coal prices having fallen more than 60% over the last five years. Majors such as US owned Peabody Energy are going into administration or Chapter 11 which is threatening thousands of jobs in mines they operate here.



In November 2015 the OECD agreed to restrict coal fired power stations being financed by government while about two years earlier the World Bank also decided that they would only provide finance for coal in rare circumstances. These types positions are driven by the fact that environmentally coal is a dirty energy source compared to others such as gas, solar wind and nuclear. Nobody could logically argue against this.

Despite this there are some inescapable facts about coal that means it still will be a massive energy source for the world for many years to come. 

These are:
-It is still the cheapest source of fuel for base load electricity and currently accounts for about 40% of global electricity supply. Huge!
-In the third world coal demand is still growing as the need for electricity rapidly grows with urbanisation in countries such as India and China.
-While demand for coal in developed countries is decreasing the global demand overall is still growing.
-For the third world, coal is also a source of energy that is safely, easily and cheaply transported and stored. You can literally pile it up in heaps in a yard whereas gas for example needs extremely expensive infrastructure that these nations struggle to afford.



McKinsey & Co forecast that despite the boom in renewable energy fossil fuels like coal and gas will still be the dominant source of energy. Their forecast is that by 2040 renewable energy sources will only contribute about 17% to global energy needs and coal will still be meeting 31% of demand. 

Inevitably coal prices will recover and could do so quite spectacularly from where they are now in my view. Clearly demand will be strong for the next few decades while at the same time the supply side will reduce with action the World Bank, OECD and green groups are taking.

Therefore shares in low cost miners of thermal coal look like pretty good buying at the moment if you adopt a long term view.

All for now,
+Brad Skelton
Depth Commodities

Friday, 26 February 2016

Mandatory Shipping Container Weight Verification Begins July 1st

From July 1st 2016 a packed container will no longer be allowed to load on board a ship unless it’s Verified Gross Mass (VGM) has been provided by the shipper named in the bill of lading, to the shipping line and/or the terminal representative.

The International Maritime Organisation's(IMO) most recent amendment to SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requires verification of container weights.

The latest amendments serve to make liability and responsibilities clear, as well as preventing accidental mis-declarations of container weights which have been the source of various marine casualties in the past. At its core, authorities globally are seeking to enforce processes that should already be apart of your export documentation.





Here’s what you need to know in the lead up to July 1st.

- The new container rules apply globally.
- Containers won’t be load onto ships without a VGM.
- The shipper - the entity named on the carrier’s bill of lading- is responsible for providing the VGM. This may be outsourced to third parties.
- Container weights can be verified in two ways:
1. Physical weighing: weighing the final sealed and packed container; or by
2. Calculation method: adding the combined weight of the contents.

Compliance with weight verification will depend on the type of cargo.

You need to start preparing now for this change by deciding how your company will verify the weights of cargo you are packing into containers. For example you may need to have your forklift equipped with scales.

If you have any questions or want more detail please contact me or any of my team at Depth Logistics.

I see this as initiative as overdue by the IMO. Too many times I have seen my clients containers arriving overloaded by their supplier. Some are too heavy to be legal for road transport off the wharf. Often the first anybody knows is when the container is on the back of the truck at the destination and a sharp truck driver raises concerns before he hits the roads from the terminal.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Trans-Arctic Shipping means big gains for shippers

China Ocean Shipping Company(COSCO) has entered into an agreement with the American Bureau of Shipping to develop more sustainable navigation of vessels on Trans-Arctic routes.


This route shortens a typical voyage by approximately 4000 nautical miles compared with traditional Suez Canal passage.

COSCO is increasing investment in ice classed vessels and Arctic technology to open up this route further.

The operational cost savings to COSCO will translate into lower freight rates and shorter transit times which will be a huge benefit for shippers.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Shipping container pools

I have seen some bizarre uses for shipping containers but didn't think of this one...
All for now,
+Brad Skelton 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle

If you are a leader of your business how self-aware are you of how you impact others and are performing?


I have seen many business leaders, myself included, quite by accident become out of touch with their clients and staff although they do not mean to be.


The fact is the larger your company becomes you end up dealing with different sets of issues and have department heads reporting to you. There simply is not enough time and bandwidth to get into the nitty gritty of most issues so you gradually end up less exposed and your historical reference points change. You don't even realise it is happening. Your own self-assessment becomes skewed and you are not leading the best way you can.


One way I have fund effective to minimise this happening to me is by using daily huddles. At Depth Industries we roll at 8.38am with the whole team for about 5 minutes every single day. For team members outside of the office when the huddle is on we use Google Hangouts so we can all be in. This way I am connecting with all team members even briefly and get a good barometer for the business and our teamwork.


We also do a client and sales focused huddle every morning at 9.05am so all team members can be aware of our service objectives or any issues arising we can hopefully swiftly deal with.


The other crucial thing is to create an atmosphere where you stay approachable and conflict amongst yourself and team is welcomed. Now I don't mean you go around picking fights and deliberately causing drama. What I mean is that everyone has no fear or hesitation to call each other out on their performance and where necessary, engage in "productive" conflict and robust debates on issues that gain a better outcome for the business. 


Keep it really real and the client and therefore the company will be the winner.


The bottleneck will always be at the top of the bottle but things will flow more easily.


All for now
+Brad Skelton 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Competing in a crowded market?

Competing in a crowded market isn't all bad. A crowded market shows that demand for your product or service exists and it is a viable market to be in.



So how do you not only compete but lead?

Differentiation is the key. What is greatest form of differentiation? Simple... BE THE BEST! Be so good the market can't ignore you.

Relentlessly generate fresh ideas and urgently pursue excellence in every aspect of your business. I tell my team "We get the clients we deserve". Like attracts like so if we want the best clients we have to be the best to compete.

How do you know when you are in the lead?

Having the biggest revenue, profit or market share doesn't always denote industry leadership. As companies get bigger they usually get worse.

One way you know you are leading is when competitors start copying you. I have had competitors blatantly duplicate our service offering, use unique titles we developed for roles of our team and rip off wording from our website and brochures. Our buy lines...slightly adapted... appear in their promotional material.

While on one level it frustrates my exec team and I, on another we smile as that is when we know we are leading. When competitors start reacting to us and less to their clients needs in an attempt to stay relevant and say to the market "Us too!" we know we are winning. 

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but imagine the competitive benefits to clients if they developed some original ideas and instead of playing catch up, actually took their business and industry to the next level.

In one instance, company "F", has even used my name personally, my company's name and our buy line in the meta tags and URL's of pages in their website in an effort to attract internet traffic away from us. I guess desperate people do desperate things and I was pleased our lawyers swiftly dealt with that one.

Companies exist to do one thing. Serve their clients. Be the best and your market will not seem that crowded at all.

All for now,
+Brad Skelton