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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

Swimming Pool Shipping Containers

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 

Sunday 25 October 2015

UberCargo and UberRush - The end of local courier companies?

Uber, best known for its alternative and industry disruptive taxi service, is now making waves in the road transport industry with its recent expansion into logistical services. It doesn't stop there with an "Uber Everything" project running to explore even more possibilities.

UberRush is now operational in New York, Chicago and San Francisco and will be progressively rolled out globally. UberCargo has been launched in Hong Kong which takes their road logistics one step further with an Uber-Van Delivery for quick parcel moves of odd sizes and shapes, at all hours of the day. This expansion of services cleverly utilises Ubers existing technology and crowd sourcing opportunities. These developments are brilliant for SME's as it enables them to leverage cost effective, on demand delivery to distribute their products. Learn more from this YouTube clip.

As yet large companies are not really embracing these new Uber services. Their concern is the lack of insurance and guarantees the cargo will arrive safely, or even at all. I am certain these issues can be overcome though. Even Amazon has discussed launching a service similar to UberCargo called “On My Way”, for the last leg of their shipping transport needs.
Uber's investors are excited about the potential for growth from this segment on top of current growth of 300% per annum. With revenues now exceeding USD10 billion, the current valuation of the business is approaching USD50 billion. To put Uber's revenue into perspective DHL's revenue last year was EUR14.8 or approximately USD 16.3 billion.
City by city Uber will rapidly become one the biggest local, real-time logistics providers in the current market. There’s no doubt Uber will play a fundamental role in the future of local logistics, to what extent though, we are yet to see.
One thing for sure though is that local courier transport business will soon come under as much pressure as traditional taxi companies have.
All for now,
+Brad Skelton 

Monday 5 October 2015

Is Bigger Still Better?

In an ever growing and rapidly expanding society, where we have little room to spare in our yards at home or on the port, it seems in more recent times the saying “bigger is better” may no longer ring true.

However, whilst bigger may not always be better on shore, out to sea, this saying certainly strikes a very different chord.

Let me introduce you to Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, the world’s largest container ship.

Honouring the name of the late Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, this feat of danish design is just the first of twenty in the Triple-E Series, proving that bigger really is still better. Affectionately dubbed the blue giant of the sea, this mega vessel stands an impressive 400 metres in length, 73 metres in height and has the capacity to transport 18,000 containers (TEU). That’s no small feat. The secret to its ingenuity however is not in its dimensions, but in its design.

Although only four metres longer and three metres wider than its predecessor, the cavity of the Triple-E Series has seen a dramatic expansion. The extra space now accommodates for up to an additional 2,500 containers per haul. Not to be satisfied of just this, the new fleet of giants also emit 50% less CO2 per container moved, effectively halving its carbon footprint. This added environmental benefit is a result of “ the unique hull design, energy-efficient engine and system that uses exhaust gas to produce extra energy to help propel the ship, make the Triple-E unmatched in energy efficiency”.

It’s no surprise these giants are creating wakes at sea and in the office. Not only are they more environmentally friendly than their competitors, but they are also unmatched in their efficiency and size.

For shippers, you’d expect this would all be good news. Greater capacity ought to equate to lesser costs, right? The answer appears unclear for the present time.

As increased capacity drives down rates, shippers are paying less; although potentially not for long, warn Hackett Associates, an international expert and advisory company to the Maritime Industry. They predict that this could be especially true for the US where “some lines have (already) cancelled voyages to counteract the downward trend”.

Nonetheless, Hackett Associates report TEU freight in the US to have increased by 4.2 percent from last year, with the first half of 2015 already 6.5% higher than the same period from last year.

Therefore despite speculation to the contrary, the global shipping task is on the rise and carriers that lead the way in design and efficiency the future is bright.

For sea freight at least, it seems the saying is true; bigger is better.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton

Thanks to +Darcy Cooper for her contribution to this post.