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Wednesday 13 November 2013

So why do we still need phone numbers?

All of my companies and I use Google Apps for Business as our communications platform. It gives us the full suite of Email, Instant Messenger, Hangouts(video conferencing) and Drive(cloud storage) and Google+ for social networking. It is cheaper than any other platform I am aware of to run and in our experience hangouts have proven to be far more reliable and easier to use than Skype and we can have up to ten of our team members around the world in a single Hangout simultaneously. The connectivity to our Android phones is seamless too.

Whether you personally prefer Google, Apple, Microsoft or others, the one thing that has become a common denominator among them all is that you set up an account that creates a unique personal ID or profile and gives you access to the online resources. The advantage Google+ has is that from this single platform you can initiate hangouts, IM and emails as well as access to numerous other Google based applications such as YouTube.

I believe applications like Hangouts and Apple's FaceTime are gradually taking over from phone calls. After all they are more personal if you choose to video conference than a phone call and cheaper too. They also go beyond international borders for no extra cost per minute. Not to mention you can share photos and other files which you can't do in a phone call. 

Instead of having a phone number and using the phone system to speak to someone you can use the internet and mobile data connections to do the same. So why do we need a personal phone number anymore when you have your profile or account ID that allows people to find you and then connect more easily than ever?

If you are not familiar with Hangouts, check this 1.23 minute YouTube clip out to see what I mean.

Retailers are suffering because in many categories of goods buying online now provides the superior consumer experience. Communications are the same. With modern smartphones enabling Hangouts, FaceTime and the like so cheaply and internationally, phone calls and texts no longer provide the superior communications experience. Increasingly mobile phone plans will be about the data plan you have and not the voice or text.

As for email...well if you really want feel old....the younger generation sees this as "old school"! Their main communication is done via their preferred social network.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Last Friday at 4.30am local time Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. There are unconfirmed reports of up to 10,000 people dead and millions now homeless and currently without food and water. UNICEF estimate 4 million children are seriously impacted right now. 

A "super typhoon" is defined a by it's wind speeds. A typhoon with wind speeds over 241km per hour that are sustained for longer than a 1 minute in duration is classified as "super". Can you imagine the affect of sustained winds at this speed? Devastating!

Typhoon Haiyan from space
Haiyan hit the south of the Philippines hardest. Depth Offshore has it's team located in the north so I am relieved to report that everyone is okay there. Some of our team members have been unable to contact family and friends in the south since last Thursday as communications infrastructure has been wiped out.

The people in the Philippines need help to overcome this massive natural disaster.

There are numerous aid agencies with appeals running. Our team and associates outside the Philippines are going to support UNICEF and I urge anybody reading this blog post to do the same or make a donation to another reputable aid agency.

Please make a donation and share the link or this blog to friends and family. Thank you!

All for now,

Thursday 31 October 2013

The ghost ship "Flying Dutchman"

Throughout the ages seamen have reported seeing ghost ships at sea.

The most famous and legendary of all was the "Flying Dutchman". The sight of which to a sailor meant doom was imminent.

The "Flying Dutchman" was a Dutch man-of-war built in the 1700's. As the story goes she was a Dutch East India Company ship that was rounding the infamous Cape of Good Hope when she hit a severe storm. Rather than find safe harbour, the captain said he'd hold his heading until judgement day and the ship and her crew disappeared into the storm to never be seen again......

Until.....sailors started reporting sighting her all the way through to the 20th century. Even King George V claimed to have sighted her between Sydney and Melbourne in 1880 while he was on board the "HMS Inconstant". 

She was often said to be seen with dark clouds above her and she would pass across other ships bows right before something terrible happened.

Happy Halloween!

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 28 October 2013

Which carrier wouldn't allow a marine surveyor on board their ship?

Today I had a client with a crane being loaded and shipped with one of the worlds largest RoRo shipping lines ex Brisbane. The client and his underwriters requested that a marine surveyor conduct a survey on the cargo and most importantly the lashing and securing of the cargo once on board the vessel. A fair and reasonable request and one that goes to the heart of the cargo's safe delivery, integrity and also to maritime safety in general.

To everyone's surprise and frustration, the shipping line refused to allow a marine surveyor on board their ship to conduct the survey. This is an unbelievable, arrogant and potentially risky stance adopted by the carrier and one that has caused my client to tell me to never ship cargo with them again. 

Marine Surveyors are highly qualified to inspect cargo, vessels and equipment on behalf of shippers, shipping lines and underwriters. On the waterfront they are highly respected as many of them are retired ships captains with tremendous experience who understand from first hand experience the power of the sea and it's effects on ships and cargo alike. Furthermore their ethics are considered by all as being beyond reproach and in my experience they have always conducted themselves in a neutral and highly professional manner. 

They play an essential role in shipping and one that is key to maintaining safe and high standards in maritime operations for all stakeholders and the environment. Many times they have raised concerns prior to or during loading of a ship that has potentially avoided dangerous incidents.

Any carrier who denies a marine surveyor on board their vessels in my view is short sighted, unreasonable and perhaps should not be entrusted with my clients cargo. Marine surveyors should be allowed to go anywhere and draw attention to any concerns they see. It is in EVERYONES interest to have such experienced people present to conduct a survey!

Many ships have capsized or sunk in heavy seas as the lashings on the cargo have not been correctly done or weren't secure enough to stop the cargo moving and slamming into the hull of the ship or other cargo. Several years ago a wheel loader broke it's lashings at sea during heavy weather. Every time the vessel pitched and rolled the bucket and it's teeth rammed into the hull. The machine was stowed below the waterline and eventually the teeth poked a sizable hole in the hull which lead to the entire vessel sinking.

Would anybody like to take a guess at which carrier denied my client a survey of his cargo? You can leave a comment in the field at the footer of this post.

All for now,

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Cargo transhipment re-invented - lower handling costs and better for the environment.

+Jenny Ruffell Smith from my team recently attended a seminar hosted by the Nautical Institute.

Sea Transport spoke about a new concept for transhipment of cargo.

Costs of moving materials, such as iron ore, can be significantly increased if transport infrastructure and/or deep-water ports, are not located close to mine sties and easily accessible  Usually mining companies are faced with transporting materials long distances either by road or rail and frequently building an expensive terminal and jetty facility.

Transhipment allows smaller vessels with shallower drafts to transfer materials from a small harbour close to the mine site and then transfer to a oceangoing export vessel stationed offshore.

The latest innovation is the Floating Harbour Transhipper (FHT - pictured). A self-propelled feeder vessel berths in the FHT's aft well dock where the FHT unloads the feeder vessel and transfers materials to onboard stockpiles or straight to an ocean going vessel. 

Transhipment - Sea transport

The FHT can withstand 4m wave height, which reduces down-time, demurage and feeder damage. Also, due to the feeder and FHT both being enclosed, this ensures a dust free transshipment and dry cargo. Due to the shallow draft of the feeder, vessels can be used from very small ports eliminating the need for dredging sensitive areas, constructing large jetties and reducing port charges. It also eliminates the need for large sheds ashore for stockpiling. 

This method of transhipment also has potential to handle containers as well in remote ports.

Transhipment - Sea transport

This innovation new vessel would be very beneficial in Australia where millions of tons of raw materials are exported every year and much of it in an environmentally sensitive area and transported long distances by rail and road.

Great to see such innovative ideas gradually becoming reality.

All for now,

Tuesday 15 October 2013

4PL "us too"...and a FREE supply chain health check.

Perhaps imitation really is the sincerest form flattery. 

My team and I launched a 4PL (Fourth party Logistics) service specifically for heavy industry and major projects earlier this year. By leveraging the enormous direct knowledge and experience we have gained in owning and operating in all manner of transport operations from cranes, trucks, freight forwarding companies, customs brokerages, warehouses, storage yards and quarantine facilities we have been able to save clients millions of dollars in some instances.

Since launching this new service we have noticed competitors, large and small, saying "us too" and now advertising they are 4PL providers when indeed most of them are not or perhaps even properly understand the concept or role they need to play.

The essence of being a 4PL provider is that you are 100% neutral. To be truly neutral you must be non-asset based. This means that you do not operate your own warehouses, trucks, planes, cranes or ships. If you do then immediately you have a conflict as you will naturally favor cargo traffic for your own assets ahead delivering the best solution for the client no matter who the provider is. This is one of the keys.

The other key is a good 4PL provider must have it's own in house IT capability and systems to support it's clients logistics and supply chain management.  Off the shelf software packages that most 3PL forwarders run do not have the modules or analytical sophistication to support a 4PL supply chain strategy.

I back my team and I to find efficiency gains and cost reductions in your supply chain whether that be domestically and/or internationally. Therefore between now and the 30th of November this year I am offering a FREE 4PL supply chain health check. There are no fees for our time if we cannot find gains for you.

If you'd like to take advantage of this offer, please email or call me. Ph: +61414362707

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday 3 October 2013

I'm proud that this humble blog has been recognised as a key global shipping industry website!

I'd like to thank Logistics Degree for rating my blog as one of the 95 key websites for global shipping & freight. You can click on the badge below to see the full list.

Thanks to my blog readers who by subscribing and following have helped this be achieved.

Now the pressure is on more than ever to keep the entertaining, informative and thought provoking posts coming.

Stay tuned!

+Brad Skelton