Overview - Container Supply Chain Conference

The Container Supply Chain Conference is one of three conference tracks at TOC Europe.  Paying delegates can attend this conference. 


Supported by the improved market fundamentals of growth in shipping demand and the ongoing management of supply capacity, cargo flows are expanding across all segments of the industry with containerised and dry bulk shipping chronicling the fastest growth in the sector. However,the global trade landscape continues to be unpredictable and carries significant risks for near-term future of container shipping and handling. In 2018, the World Trade Organization is forecasting trade growth between 2.1% and 4%.

Supported by growing Ecommerce which is transforming how transactions and trades are done domestically and cross borders and with an astounding $14.2 trillion to be realized through digital business by 2022, will play a vital role in supporting
demand for container shipping in over the next few years. There is no doubt that the time for digital is now!

The whole supply chain, is immersing itself in intelligent assets that can foster through automation, autonomy and connectivity a massive change in the ‘business as usual’ approach to moving cargo across the globe.

A sense of renewed optimism has begun to emerge for the industry as it slowly starts to emerge from a decade long struggle of navigating through tumultuous times stemming from the world economic crash of 2009.  This optimism will operate in 2018 under a cloud of several risk factors that include the continued retreat of the Chinese economy to focus of domestic demand, the United States change of trade policy since 2017 and the ongoing uncertainty allied to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 and will continue to linger over any potential world economic growth.

TOC Europe returns to Rotterdam in 2018 at a vitally important time for the sector. Having witnessed countless upheavals in its 40-plus years, three core content components at this year’s event will bring industry executives up to speed on how maritime logistics and container supply chain operations can face up and adapt to the challenges ahead.

Conference Session Highlights

A wholes days’ debate dedicated to Digitalization & Disruption in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution, a data explosion allows the industry to take a huge leap in gathering, analysing, and distributing data that can vitally be turned into information and useful knowledge and more importantly enable the integrated management of activities across the supply chain.

As the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution gathers pace, it is the big data explosion that is allowing the industry to take a huge leap forward in gathering, analyzing, distribution and can be turned into information to enable
the integrated management of activities across the supply chain and change the business models that we have come to know across many different industries.

“Data is the new fuel for our economies”, Director General of the European Commission's department for mobility and transport (DG MOVE) Henrik Hololei stated in 2017and data is forming the central crux of the new world order of connected intelligent assets right along the supply chain. The ‘business as usual’ approach is making way for an automated, autonomous and connected platform to move cargo around the world.

These new business models are driving the fundamental dynamics of globalisation with the blurring of the borders between manufacturing, retail and logistics and would not be possible without digitalization.

The traditional supply chains have always been built around trying to deliver as much value as one could by moving goods around the world but the rise of supply chain platforms are transforming business models across all sectors in the economy. One needs to now adapt to the global supply chain being re-shaped by the converging technologies where everything is digitized, connected, shared, personalized and directly available to all.  

Any new business models must take into consideration the risk posed by cyber-attacks that the industry are being exposed to. Whether it is a targeted attack (as we saw in 2017 when Maersk Line was attacked) or untargeted, the supply chain is constantly subjected to an attack and the industry needs to ensure that they are prepared for when they are attacked and no longer exist in the bubble waiting until ‘if’ they are attacked. Not only that, but the industry must look to adapt to scopes of attacks that will change in the future and could have crippling effects on port operations.

When considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the focus is always on the technology and changing dynamics of supply chains but we must not forget the people.

Many industries, including the supply chain industry, are facing a skills shortage and the traditional job profiles that we have come to know are reshaped as the desire for knowledge to be able to monitor and master the
plethora of new technologies hitting the market. This is not just a training and recruitment issue but one that must be tackled at a higher regulatory level as the industry ensures that it develops a workforce in line with future requirements.

Now the industry and policy makers must look towards developing a comprehensive digital strategy and creating the optimum digital infrastructure which liberates the untapped potential of current processes and generates long-term value for the sector.

The fundamentals of the market are again changing in 2018 with world fleet growth decelerating for the fifth year in a row, nevertheless, the supply of ship-carrying capacity increased faster than demand, leading to a continued
situation of global overcapacity and blank sailings and volatility of rates for all the major trade lanes.

The past year has seen serious moves to reduce capacity and force consolidation in the container shipping sector and in 4 years’ time, the top seven ocean carriers will share an astronomical 75% of the worlds fleet on the
oceans as it looks to secure a path towards sustainable profitability. However, despite carrier optimism, supply side pressure does remain with record high scrapping rates still not enough, a high idle fleet and recent consolidation
not necessarily reflecting a curb in price competition – an issue that regulators are being pressed to look at to ensure competition in the market. 

These recent mergers and alliances that are taking affect continue to intensify the competition between ports across Europe. The expectation on ports to improve performance – not just in its operations – is broadening and now
relates to quality, both cyber and general security, safety, financial sustainability, environmental protection and social inclusion for the shipping lines calling at its ports

As they look to adapt to the changing liner requirements in 2018, major port stakeholders are discussing potential alliance options in response to carriers' new alliances and their negative impact on the industry and to help
mitigate the negative impact on growing cost pressures.

OBOR is allowing a number international trade routes to be unlocked, upgraded and reopened.

This is not a simplistic project linking China to mainland Europe, there are around 900 OBOR-related projects either being negotiated or already in progress. OBOR encompasses 60 countries through ports, highways, bridges,
tunnels, communications grids, and rail links along two pathways that encompass several regions and more importantly has already received up to $1trillion in heavy investments and this will continue to rise over the next decade. 

With the Eurasia landscape changing as China gradually increases its presence in Eastern and Central Europe. In 2012 it created the “16+1” mechanism, a platform where the Chinese prime minister meets with the leaders of 16 countries including EU members such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the Baltic states, as well as
non-EU members including Serbia, Albania, and Montenegro.

Supporters of the OBOR initiative hypothesise that it will contribute to cross the route and China and Europe secure their energy supplies. However, at what price its detractors would say, does Europe allow China free reign over its continents infrastructure.

However, the argument falls, China and Europe will both have a self-interest in fulfilling the OBOR initiatives aims to drive economic growth, preserve jobs and unlock commercial opportunities. But how will these new trade corridors
and clusters reshape the status quo and how can investors, operators and technology suppliers take advantage?

The OBOR Initiative is driving investments across the supply chain.
Chinese government financing is the cornerstone to the entire system and it has been estimated that $20 billion alone has been invested just in port infrastructure in 2017. It is essential that ports and terminals expand,
upgrade, modernize and maintain transportation infrastructure.

Ports are vitally important for Europe's economy: 37 per cent of EU trade and 74 per cent of imports and exports of cargo require access to seaports. Evidently, European legislation has to work on common standards for
the organisation of ports, investments and market access.

The changing global trends are altering the commercial actualities for the port which no port can avoid. Addressing continual delay due to lack of investment realistically should fall to national governments, but is there the
political will, or even the hard cash, to make a serious effort in this respect?

Find out more about the other conference programmes:

Confirmed speakers from companies:

Focus will be on:

Other Track: Terminal Operations