Navis expects that the biggest trends that will characterize the industry over the next year will include increased IT spending, more collaboration and data standardization, trade wars, smart containers, automation productivity gains, and improved carrier capacity management and environmental efficiencies.

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Namely, Navis’ 2019 predictions include:

1. More IT spend: According to Navis’ Business Bellwether survey, about 90% of respondents believe their organizations will increase technology spending, including 56% who plan for an increase of 6% or more. Much of this budget will be targeted at the adoption of new technologies to improve operational performance.

The top areas for increased technology spending include:

  • Automation;
  • Business intelligence;
  • Planning and management systems;
  • Big data analytics;
  • SaaS applications and cloud services.

2. More collaboration and standardization: According to Navis, more than half of all respondents said their operational performance would improve by at least 50% if they could share their real-time operational information. Moreover, 70% expect real-time collaboration between shipping lines and terminals to occur within the next five years.

3. Profitability despite protectionist worries: First in the list of concerns is the rise in trade protectionism and new tariffs. However, despite these fears, 82% expect either improved profitability over the next year or continued stabilization and reduced losses.

4. Smart containers: 2019 could be the year for the expanded use of smart containers. In fact, Maersk has announced investments in inexpensive, disposable tracking devices, along with initiatives to put sensors into its entire fleet of refrigerated boxes. MSC will also equip 50,000 dry cargo containers with smart container technology. Additionally, CargoSmart is connected to more than 40 ocean carriers to boost supply chain visibility.

5. Automation and data-driven operational improvement: Pressure from customers, costs of labor, competition, and new technology have increase the demand for terminals to invest and automate. A recent DS Research report indicated that 60 automation projects are planned for the next five years, which will create a total capacity of 90 million TEU.

6. Improved carrier capacity management, operational and environmental efficiencies: Capacity management will be a key point for 2019. Now, owners along with ocean carriers will seek opportunities to increase the cargo intake of their vessels, aiming to increase the flexibility of capacity management.

Regarding operational and environmental efficiency, IMO's strategy to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 will motivate shipping lines to gain technological advantages.