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Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Generosity Gene.

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

I am fortunate to have some incredible friends in Naomi and Peter Simson who founded RedBalloon. Their company is easily the largest online supplier of experienced based gifts. More on RedBallon.

Naomi is a marketing genius, a former Telstra Businesswoman of the year, a Mum and one of the most innovative and out of the box business thinkers I have ever known.

She has recently had the great honour of being invited to speak at a TEDx event in Sydney. Tedx is invites some of the worlds greatest minds in their respective fields to do presentations which are recorded and then uploaded to the net. The thrust of Tedx is to capture amazing ideas and spread them.

So while Naomi's presentation, "The Generosity Gene", has nothing at all to do with shipping, I thought I'd share it with you. I hope you find it as thought provoking and enjoyable as I did.

Congratulations Naomi!

Click here to "The Generosity Gene".

All for now.

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

The Generosity Gene.

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

I am fortunate to have some incredible friends in Naomi and Peter Simson who founded RedBalloon. Their company is easily the largest online supplier of experienced based gifts. More on RedBallon.

Naomi is a marketing genius, a former Telstra Businesswoman of the year, a Mum and one of the most innovative and out of the box business thinkers I have ever known.

She has recently had the great honour of being invited to speak at a TEDx event in Sydney. Tedx is invites some of the worlds greatest minds in their respective fields to do presentations which are recorded and then uploaded to the net. The thrust of Tedx is to capture amazing ideas and spread them.

So while Naomi's presentation, "The Generosity Gene", has nothing at all to do with shipping, I thought I'd share it with you. I hope you find it as thought provoking and enjoyable as I did.

Congratulations Naomi!

Click here to "The Generosity Gene".

All for now.

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

Saturday, 10 April 2010

What happened to "My word, is my bond"?

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

For centuries in shipping, a person or company's word has been something that can be relied upon absolutely. It is an industry foundation stone but I fear it is getting lost. A reputation for honouring your word is hard earned but easy to lose. It's not rocket science. Simply do what you say you will do and it keeps customers happily coming back.

So lets relate that to some of the worlds major RoRo and container lines right now. Sadly many still have substantial portions of their fleets mothballed and out of service and are losing money due to declines in cargo volumes with the GFC. It's a bad predicament the industry is in yet short shipment of cargo is on the rise again even when shipping capacity massively outweighs cargo volumes. For a shipping line to give a booking confirmation on a particular vessel to move cargo is in effect to give their word or a promise to perform.

Recently one good client of mine with a RoRo carrier suffered three consecutive short shipments in a row for his bulldozer. To be clear, this was with bookings being CONFIRMED by the shipping line in writing and yet vessel after vessel his cargo was left behind. Similarly a client moving full container loads ex Europe had virtually the same experience. The commercial impacts on these clients was massive but the shipping lines didn't seem to care.

These occurences were commonplace just prior to the GFC rolling through as cargo volumes globally were at all time highs and there was a shortage of ships. Not that this excuses short shipments. Either way you look at it, the shipping line shouldn't accept the booking if they cannot be relied upon to upift the cargo AS BOOKED! It's their "word" after all.

Perhaps I am over-simplifying it but I don't think so. To my businessmind I'd be trying hard to deliver a damned good and above all reliable service and carrying everything I could to grow profits and revenues. Particularly in challenging business times.

Now I am sure that some executives of shipping lines are reading this blog and thinking Skelton just doesn't understand. "He's been around long enough to know it's about maximising the utilisation of the ships we have in service to make a profit. Sometimes this means we have to leave cargo behind." I realise delivering a profit is a business imperative but in some circumstances is it worth the long term cost of abandoning your word and thus losing customer focus?

Lets get back to basics. I think to abandon your word is short sighted. Long term success in business means taking long term views of the business relationships you enter into and realising there will be highs and lows but because you have given your word, you stick by your customer through thick and thin.

It's about being committed enough to the relationship to take the good with the bad. Lets not forget that many ship owners have enjoyed incredible boom times prior to the GFC. The likes of which had never been seen before.

So now times are pretty tough and some of these carriers, while delivering appalling booking reliability, are arrogant enough to still think they deserve and can demand 100% loyalty from shippers and forwarders while at the same time not offer anything in damages when they leave cargo behind. To be frank they don't deserve loyalty because they haven't earned it.

My customers have long memories for bad service and many of them will go out of their way to avoid and punish carriers who have inconvenienced and cost them money before. Right now with times being tough for them too, they are less forgiving than ever. We are fortunate that most of our customers are understanding enough to know that because we, as freight forwarders, don't own the ships we are reliant on the shipping lines to perform.

In previous blog posts I have referred to three great mates of mine that I get together with a few times a year to discuss business and life over a long lunch. One of the boys coined a phrase that resonated with us all and I think is relevant to share in light of peoples abilities to keep their word.

It is, "Tough times don't build character. They reveal character".

I invite you to comment on this blog and share any short shipment war stories you may have by going to http://www.theshippingbloke.com/ .If you are one of the offending shipping lines, then I am sure my readers would like to hear your perspective too.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

What happened to "My word, is my bond"?

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

For centuries in shipping, a person or company's word has been something that can be relied upon absolutely. It is an industry foundation stone but I fear it is getting lost. A reputation for honouring your word is hard earned but easy to lose. It's not rocket science. Simply do what you say you will do and it keeps customers happily coming back.

So lets relate that to some of the worlds major RoRo and container lines right now. Sadly many still have substantial portions of their fleets mothballed and out of service and are losing money due to declines in cargo volumes with the GFC. It's a bad predicament the industry is in yet short shipment of cargo is on the rise again even when shipping capacity massively outweighs cargo volumes. For a shipping line to give a booking confirmation on a particular vessel to move cargo is in effect to give their word or a promise to perform.

Recently one good client of mine with a RoRo carrier suffered three consecutive short shipments in a row for his bulldozer. To be clear, this was with bookings being CONFIRMED by the shipping line in writing and yet vessel after vessel his cargo was left behind. Similarly a client moving full container loads ex Europe had virtually the same experience. The commercial impacts on these clients was massive but the shipping lines didn't seem to care.

These occurences were commonplace just prior to the GFC rolling through as cargo volumes globally were at all time highs and there was a shortage of ships. Not that this excuses short shipments. Either way you look at it, the shipping line shouldn't accept the booking if they cannot be relied upon to upift the cargo AS BOOKED! It's their "word" after all.

Perhaps I am over-simplifying it but I don't think so. To my businessmind I'd be trying hard to deliver a damned good and above all reliable service and carrying everything I could to grow profits and revenues. Particularly in challenging business times.

Now I am sure that some executives of shipping lines are reading this blog and thinking Skelton just doesn't understand. "He's been around long enough to know it's about maximising the utilisation of the ships we have in service to make a profit. Sometimes this means we have to leave cargo behind." I realise delivering a profit is a business imperative but in some circumstances is it worth the long term cost of abandoning your word and thus losing customer focus?

Lets get back to basics. I think to abandon your word is short sighted. Long term success in business means taking long term views of the business relationships you enter into and realising there will be highs and lows but because you have given your word, you stick by your customer through thick and thin.

It's about being committed enough to the relationship to take the good with the bad. Lets not forget that many ship owners have enjoyed incredible boom times prior to the GFC. The likes of which had never been seen before.

So now times are pretty tough and some of these carriers, while delivering appalling booking reliability, are arrogant enough to still think they deserve and can demand 100% loyalty from shippers and forwarders while at the same time not offer anything in damages when they leave cargo behind. To be frank they don't deserve loyalty because they haven't earned it.

My customers have long memories for bad service and many of them will go out of their way to avoid and punish carriers who have inconvenienced and cost them money before. Right now with times being tough for them too, they are less forgiving than ever. We are fortunate that most of our customers are understanding enough to know that because we, as freight forwarders, don't own the ships we are reliant on the shipping lines to perform.

In previous blog posts I have referred to three great mates of mine that I get together with a few times a year to discuss business and life over a long lunch. One of the boys coined a phrase that resonated with us all and I think is relevant to share in light of peoples abilities to keep their word.

It is, "Tough times don't build character. They reveal character".

I invite you to comment on this blog and share any short shipment war stories you may have by going to http://www.theshippingbloke.com/ .If you are one of the offending shipping lines, then I am sure my readers would like to hear your perspective too.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The collapsible shipping container..a reality?


(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

For as long as I have been in the shipping industry the pursuit of the collapsible shipping container has been on. Numerous designs and prototypes have been tried and they haven't really proved practical or financially viable. Well this latest design from a Dutch designer called Cargoshell might just be the one that will make the break through.

Why make a shipping container collapsible anyway?

Approximately 90% of all cargo shipped in the world these days is done so by containerisation. There is estimated to be about 200 million shipments per annum. The pinch point on the current standard design is the costs involved to deliver and return the empty containers or frequently re-position them back to export markets. The costs to do this, regardless of the mode of transport, are virtually the same as moving a full container.

So if you can find a way to collapse a container for the empty transport then you can stack them together and return or deliver a few for the same cost of returning one. Cargoshell accomplishes this with a massive volume reduction of 75% and a weight reduction per container of 25% by using composites rather than stell for their construction!

With the world chasing carbon emission reductions, a lighter container equates to significant savings on fuel and therefore emissions.

The other pinch point of past collapsable container designs has been the ease at which you physically erect them and fold them down. Once again, Cargoshell has come up with a design that can be easily errected in about 30 seconds. To see this in action click here.

For this project to ultimately succeed it will depend on the scale of adoption of this design globally. This is because currently the cost of a Cargoshell container to manufacture in fewer quantities is about three times that of a steel container. So it might take a while for shipping lines to gain reductions in their operating cost and then hopefully pass that on.

If I was in the business of operating empty container parks then I'd be worried. This innovation could lead to a 75% revenue hit.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

The collapsible shipping container..a reality?


(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

For as long as I have been in the shipping industry the pursuit of the collapsible shipping container has been on. Numerous designs and prototypes have been tried and they haven't really proved practical or financially viable. Well this latest design from a Dutch designer called Cargoshell might just be the one that will make the break through.

Why make a shipping container collapsible anyway?

Approximately 90% of all cargo shipped in the world these days is done so by containerisation. There is estimated to be about 200 million shipments per annum. The pinch point on the current standard design is the costs involved to deliver and return the empty containers or frequently re-position them back to export markets. The costs to do this, regardless of the mode of transport, are virtually the same as moving a full container.

So if you can find a way to collapse a container for the empty transport then you can stack them together and return or deliver a few for the same cost of returning one. Cargoshell accomplishes this with a massive volume reduction of 75% and a weight reduction per container of 25% by using composites rather than stell for their construction!

With the world chasing carbon emission reductions, a lighter container equates to significant savings on fuel and therefore emissions.

The other pinch point of past collapsable container designs has been the ease at which you physically erect them and fold them down. Once again, Cargoshell has come up with a design that can be easily errected in about 30 seconds. To see this in action click here.

For this project to ultimately succeed it will depend on the scale of adoption of this design globally. This is because currently the cost of a Cargoshell container to manufacture in fewer quantities is about three times that of a steel container. So it might take a while for shipping lines to gain reductions in their operating cost and then hopefully pass that on.

If I was in the business of operating empty container parks then I'd be worried. This innovation could lead to a 75% revenue hit.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ever wondered exactly where the ship is with your cargo?

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to Brad Skelton's blog-The Shipping Bloke)

GPS technology seems to get better and better and the shipping industry has been an early adopter of this for navigation purposes originally.

Now a significant leap has been made which enables anyone to track all types of ships from cargo ships and tugs to passenger liners via the internet in realtime.

Marinetraffic.com has an incredible website where you can track the ship your cargo is on, see it's speed and even some pictures of her.

I value truth and transparency and in years gone by who would have really known if the vessels agents were telling me the truth on where the ship was or even if they knew exactly themselves. I swear the shipping industry has a massive book of excuses. Well, it just got alot thinner with this great tool.

I am currently working on the integrating this technology into Skelton Sherborne's myCargo realtime tracking facility so my clients have this info available to them on the cargo they entrust to us constantly. It's in a test mode now.

All for now,

Brad Skelton

The Shipping Bloke