Maersk Line orders seven ice class container vessels
Maersk Line has announced it has signed a new building order with COSCO Shipyard Company in Zhoushan China. The order is for seven 3,600 TEU container vessels and they will have a length of 200 metres, width of 35.2m, and a 10m draft. COSCO Shipyard and Maersk Line have agreed to keep the price confidential.
The order is the first step in the investment programme announced by Maersk Line. Over the next five years $15 billion will go into new vessel building, retrofit programme, containers and other equipment. Hereby, Maersk Line will be able to add capacity in line with growth in global container shipping demand as well as replace less efficient chartered tonnage.
Søren Toft, COO at Maersk Line, said: “I am very happy to announce this new order and the first in our investment programme. Our strategy is to grow with the market and to do so we need new vessels from 2017. We expect to place additional orders during 2015.”
Maersk Line has ordered the vessels for Seago Line, its fully-owned container shipping line dedicated to short-sea services in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean region.
The vessels, built to trade in Northern Europe through sea ice, will achieve unprecedented economies of scale. They will provide Seago Line short-sea and feeder customers with competitive services, also in the winter.
Seago Line will deploy the vessels in the Baltic and North Sea regions and will replace several container vessels, half the size or less of the new buildings. The vessels will sail on marine gas oil so are therefore compliant with the SOx (Sulphur oxides) emission limits, which went into force 1 January 2015, creating the ECA (Emission Control Area) zone in Northern Europe.
The vessels will be delivered in April to November 2017. The order includes an option for two additional vessels to be declared within eight months of the first delivery.
It is the first time that Maersk Line has placed a new building order with COSCO Shipyard. It is also the first time the shipyard will build container vessels. However, the Maersk Group has worked with COSCO Shipbuilding Group in the past. Maersk Line also uses the shipyard for vessel retrofits and dry docking.
“I am very confident that COSCO Shipyard, with their solid shipbuilding experience and a good track record will deliver high quality and fuel efficient vessels.” concluded Toft.
Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company and is known for reliable, flexible and eco-efficient services. It provides ocean transportation in all parts of the world for its customers through 374 offices in 116 countries.
The organisation employs 7,100 seafarers and 25,500 land-based employees and operates 610 container vessels. Maersk Line markets its services through the Maersk Line, Safmarine and SeaLand (Intra-Americas) brands. Maersk Line is the holding company for MCC Transport (Intra-Asia), Seago Line (Intra-Europe) and Mercosul (Brazil).
Maersk Line is part of the Maersk Group, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Group employs about 89,207 people in around 130 countries. Group revenue for last year was $48 billion.
For the full article, please go to:- http://www.maerskline.com/el-cy/countries/int/news/news-articles/2015/03/seven-ice-class-container-vessels
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector