8 Maritime shipping challenges affecting enterprise shippers

Jason VanoverFreight Market Blog

maritime shipping

Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Enterprise shippers have always been an integral part of the maritime shipping industry and its partnership with truck fleet management. And likewise, maritime transportation has been a dominant player in global transportation for decades. As reported by Don’t Waste My Energy, “There are more than 6000 container ships that operate daily on the world’s oceans. Ships are one of the most basic cargo components for global freight transport. 90% of goods are transported by container ships. Around 530 million containers are carried annually.”  The easiest and most affordable way to connect global shipping destination points is by sea and that means maritime shipping has and will continue as a vital part of the shipping transportation network. That does not mean that it does not have its own challenges to overcome. Take a look at 8 shipping challenges in the maritime, or ocean, mode.

Challenge 1: Lack of employees

One of the greatest challenges to overcome remains the simple lack of new maritime shipping professionals. As experienced personnel retires, not enough hands come in to replace them to meet current levels of demand. New blood helps keep the maritime shipping industry-relevant and moving forward.

Challenge 2: New environmental regulations

With talk of energy conservation, fuel efficiency, pollution control, and other regulations, there remains a lot to keep up with. This presents a huge challenge for enterprise shippers who have not embraced modern technology and freight tools. It makes for more work when the network falls behind, to begin with.

Challenge 3: Continued cargo loss due to containers literally falling overboard

One unique risk the maritime shipping method must contend with remains the volatility of the sea. Containers and loads still get lost overboard during shipment due to poor weather conditions. This can have a huge impact on bottom line profits, carrier growth, and shipping reputations.

Challenge 4: Rising costs

Maritime shipping remains one of the integral components of the modern shipping supply chain. However, it has no immunity to rising costs and fees, changes in taxes, mobile data expenses, and penalties. Managers need to contend with this challenge on a regular basis.

Challenge 5: Changing political climates

While it may appear indirect, swings in politics can impact shipping and transportation in many ways. Form new regulations, employee training and compensation, and even customer demand can all experience large changes thanks to politics. This has stayed especially true of major swings in political parties.

Challenge 6: Continued demands from disruption and the pandemic

The shipping and transportation supply chain remains deep in the recovery phase following the COVID-19 pandemic. The continued need for global transportation requires maritime shipping to be poised and ready. However, the needs and demands still frequently outweigh available resources.

Challenge 7: Finite quantity

Thousands of ships carry millions of cargo containers, yet only so much cargo can get moved at any time. New ships, new crew, and new containers simply cannot be manufactured out of thin air. Quantity remains finite and all maritime shipping must occur within those limits.

Challenge 8: Changing technology regulations, including cybersecurity regulations

Since the beginning of 2021, maritime shipping lines will need to refocus on safety compliance. Important components such as risk assessments, better cybersecurity, improved shipping procedures, better training, and more thorough equipment inspections will remain a requirement for all ocean import chains.

The solution: Recognizing market trends as they occur in real-time is easier with access to actionable, insightful data

Part of the challenge with proactive freight management goes back to the inability to see how activity within one mode affects over-the-road transportation. Ocean shipping is of particular interest in this area. For instance, increased or decreased ocean import activity will contribute to higher demand for short-term capacity in ports of higher activity. It’s a relatively simple concept. Unfortunately, ocean shipments data is rarely easily accessible or available for analysis by enterprise shippers. Even more importantly, the lack of analysis surrounding ocean import data makes planning drayage moves even more troublesome. And as 2020 taught the industry, a lack of planning for sudden changes in international trade will contribute to catastrophic, supply chain-wide failures. 

In this area, FreightWaves SONAR is building out new advantages and opportunities for enterprise shippers to understand the risks of ocean freight management and apply data to proactively manage logistics after freight arrivals at port. For instance, tracking the volume of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and TEU changes over one week, four weeks and one year (OOTIW, OOTIM and OOTIY) can help companies recognize import activity trends. In turn, they can plan replenishment orders better, avoid unexpected delays in replenishment and avoid stock-outs, while still maintaining control over OTR transportation. 

Get the ocean insights needed to thrive in ocean and trucking logistics management with FreightWaves SONAR

The logistics industry is always changing and evolving to meet the changing demands of consumers and business-to-business partners. Enterprise shippers need an advantage; they need a way to look past the noise, see the problems and find the best solutions. That’s where an advanced freight forecasting platform can help navigate both times of stability and uncertainty. Get started by requesting a FreightWaves SONAR demo via the button below.