Our industry has sailed “under the radar” for most of its recent existence. While romantic notions of old are gone, where the entire town would come to the waterfront to greet the latest ship bringing exotic goods, shipping has operated mostly unnoticed in recent years as people moved away from ports and took the complex logistics transportation system for granted. This shifted somewhat as shipping became a public investment vehicle, and the emergence of a 24/7/365 global news network where incidents and accidents are reported immediately.
But shipping is coming into view for a new sector of the global market—corporate investors who either want to enter the transportation network in order to monitor its contribution to the sustainability of its own logistics chain, digital giants who seek to better understand the elusive maritime space to see how they can contribute, or logistics giants who are monitoring our industry to discern whether we are as efficient as possible. All three have the opportunity to be a helpmate—or an aggressor.
There are some examples of positive collaborations, such as Ikea and CMA-CGM teaming up on a biofuel project which will demonstrate to Ikea’s customers its commitment to examining every aspect of the logistics chain. Other large entities, like Wal-Mart and Cargill, have also given notice their expectation that its transportation partners work to improve their environmental practices in going beyond compliance in their quest for sustainability.
We have long bemoaned the lack of visibility “suffered” by the industry. That invisibility is now over as shipping is scrutinized as a market of opportunity. We need to put our best effort into accelerating our progress and owning our future by accepting the helping hand and input from those who truly want to see our industry improve and preventing the incursion of those who seek to conquer to complete their own goals of world domination.
The world is accelerating its advancements at an unprecedented pace, and we must keep up. With the logistical expertise perfected by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, society’s expectation is for highly efficient delivery systems. While the maritime industry is the most economically and environmentally efficient mode of bulk transportation, we must continue to improve our efficiencies in order to maintain our viability. Those that say shipping will never be replaced are ignoring the potential for our industry to be absorbed by external entities that will do it faster and cheaper. We must adapt, not only to retain our commercial viability, but also to attract future generations to our wonderful profession. We cannot afford to be complacent.
Right now, it seems as though all the balls are in the air: IMO 2020, GHGs, Ballast Water Treatment, DCS, MRV, communications, digitalization, automation—the list goes on. Shipowners have a right to feel overwhelmed! I can only suggest the elephant approach. You’ve probably heard me use it:
How do you get an elephant out of the room? One bite at a time.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
About Carleen Lyden Walker, Chief Evolution Officer, SHIPPINGInsight
Carleen Lyden Walker is the Chief Evolution Officer of SHIPPINGInsight, leveraging off her experience as a marketing and communications professional in the commercial maritime industry with over 40 years of experience. She specializes in identifying, developing and implementing strategic marketing and communications programs that increase the visibility and effectiveness of SHIPPINGInsight to be the most effective forum for shipowners and solution providers to advance the optimization and innovation in the maritime sphere.
In 2015, Ms. Lyden Walker was appointed a Goodwill Maritime Ambassador by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). She is a member of WISTA (Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association), the Connecticut Maritime Association, The National Press Club, WIMAC (Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean) and is a Past-President of the Propeller Club Chapter of the Port of NY/NJ. She was also elected to the Board of Trustees of the Coast Guard Foundation, Tall Ships America Foundation, Billion Oyster Foundation, American Caribbean Maritime Foundation and the New Era Academy Transportation Technologies Program in Baltimore. She sits on the Board of Gibbs & Cox.
Ms. Lyden Walker is also Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Marketing & Communications, Co-Founder and Executive Director of NAMEPA, and the Founder of the Consortium for International Maritime Heritage. In 2010, she was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the United States Coast Guard and in 2014 a Public Service Commendation for her work on World Maritime Day and AMVER, respectively. She held a USCG Captain’s license.