SURGE IN RO-RO VOLUMES AT NORTHWEST SEAPORT ALLIANCE

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) saw a surge in roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) volumes from cargo out of boxes, with the increasing trend of port congestion and high container rates in 2021. The overall breakbulk volumes are up by 25 percent, with port executives expecting the movement to strengthen in 2022. The NWSA is a marine cargo operating partnership of the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma and manages the container, breakbulk, auto, and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma. This partnership also connects to the second-largest concentration of distribution centers on the West Coast.

Andre Elmaleh, senior manager of non-container business development at Northwest Seaport Alliance, spoke about this scenario, “The surge in the breakbulk tonnage is driven by rate increase on containers. The big factor is the increase in the rates in the trans-Pacific trade for container ships”.

RORO – A FASTER ALTERNATIVE

The supply chain conundrum changed the scenario from container ships being the transport mode of choice for many RO-RO shippers. Elmaleh explained, “Ro-ro became more reliable, faster, and cheaper to the benefit of NWSA.”

The NSWA is slated to top its 2021 breakbulk volume in 2022. Elmaleh states, “Our customers indicate another record year, with a potential 10 percent improvement over 2021. RO-RO becomes more reliable, faster, and cheaper.” The ports handled 246,411 MT breakbulk in 2019, which shot up to 25.6 percent in 2020, which again grew to 366,184 MT in 2021. So the numbers speak for themselves. Companies like Caterpillar, John Deere, and Case New Holland Industrial, predict an increased demand for their goods. Growth is expected in all sectors, including construction and agricultural equipment. The NWSA operates breakbulk terminals handling automobiles and heavy cargo. “We attract RO-RO carriers but do not work on traditional lift-on, lift-off high, and heavy project cargoes,” Elmaleh added.

As per port data, RO-RO construction equipment constituted 67 percent of 2021 tonnage. Some RO-RO carriers involve EUKOR car carriers, Hyundai Glovis, MOL RO-RO, K-Line Ro-Ro, and NYK Ro-Ro.

U.S. SENATE PASSES SHIPPING ACT IN A BID TO EASE SUPPLY CHAIN WOES

The U.S. Senate has passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act 22 (OSRA 22) and will seek to pass the bill’s final version with the House of Representatives before President Biden signs the legislation into law. The Act is designed to increase the federal oversight of ocean carriers and seeks to address the logjams in U.S. ports and the ensuing supply chain woes. The bipartisan bill gives the government more authority at ports and allows federal agencies to investigate unfair practices.

However, several shipping operators and cargo owners have expressed concerns over the Act. The World Shipping Council (WSC) wants the supply chain woes to be addressed even as imports continue at record levels, with the ports and workers on land finding it challenging to process the cargo.

Rising levels of consumption

In February 2022, the Port of Los Angeles processed 857,764 TEUs, a 7.3 percent increase compared to last year. The busiest month in its 115-year old history, this is followed by a track record of record-breaking months from the beginning of 2022. “NRF expects retail sales to increase in 2022, as consumers are ready to spend and have the resources to do so,” says Matthew Shay, President, and CEO of the National Retail Federation.

“We should see durable growth this year given consumer confidence to continue this expansion, notwithstanding risks related to inflation, COVID-19, and geopolitical threats.” The National Retail Federation has pegged retail sales in 2022 between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion. This figure is 14% of the annual growth rate in 2021, the highest in more than 20 years. With the National Retail Federation expecting a stupendous growth in 2022 and the Port of Los Angeles recording its best-ever container handling in February, U.S. consumer spending shows an upward trend despite Covid, inflation, rising fuel prices, and the war situation. Given this background, the OSRA 22 is attracting disapproval from shipping operators.

Discontentment over OSRA 22

“Ocean carriers have deployed every vessel and container available and are moving more goods than at any point in history, but the U.S. landside logjams are keeping vessels stuck outside U.S. ports,” asserted WSC in response to the Act. “This import congestion is also consuming the capacity and space needed to ensure the uninterrupted flow of U.S. exports. The American people are looking for solutions to supply chain congestion resulting from the impacts of Covid-19. Unfortunately, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, S.3580, addresses none of the root causes of the U.S. landside congestion.”

WSC has also stressed that the bill would worsen the existing congestion while the Senate bill passed in 2021 provides regulators enough authority to get the final rules right. The Council has further emphasized, “Instead of passing legislation that would do nothing to address the nation’s supply chain congestion, Congress should seek real solutions that take a comprehensive, forwardlooking view. That means continued investment in port infrastructure and promoting communication, innovation, and collaboration across sectors to strengthen further the intermodal transportation system that has supported the U.S. economy throughout the pandemic. The World Shipping Council will continue to partner with Congress and other stakeholders on these worthwhile efforts.”

Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW)

Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) is the new initiative by the Biden administration for regulating supply chains. A fact sheet issued by the White House explains that FLOW is an information-sharing initiative to pilot key freight information exchange between parts of the supply chain. The commitment to moving the transportation logistics system to 21st-century digitization follows the commitment to move toward 24/7 operations many made last fall.

A slight dip in shipping rates

The Asia-US West Coast prices dropped by a meager 2% to $15,908/FEU. However, it has to be noted that the figure is up 170 percent from 2021. As lockdowns were imposed in China’s major export hubs like Shanghai and Shenzhen, minor effects have been on the supply chains. North Asia to the west coast of North America dipped below $9,000/FEU for the first time since December 14, 2021, and was assessed at $8,000/FEU on a FAK basis on March 18, S&P said in its report.

Congestion lessens in Long Beach/Los Angeles (LA/LB)

Total container ships backed up across the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach was 42 as of March 22, 2022 – a new low, and 67 fewer than the record of 109 on January 9, 2022. “The 42 container ships backed up to include 3 container ships at anchor off the ports of LA/LB, plus 0 loitering within 25 miles, plus 39 slow speed steaming or loitering outside the Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA),” according to data from Captain J. Kipling (Kip) Louttit, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Southern California & Vessel Traffic Service Los Angeles and Long Beach San Pedro, CA.

According to an analysis by Sea- Intelligence, the decline in ships queued outside LA/LB ports is just the start. “What we saw during January appeared to be a kind of steady-state balance between the desire to operate the required vessels and the need to blank sailings due to the vessels being unavailable. Hence, more realistically, we might be back to the 100-105 vessels in the queue by the time we get to April.”

RESOLVE SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES WITH DRIVERLESS TRUCKS

Software developers are creating a significant breakthrough, working hand in hand with shipping companies. Software experts have come up with the concept of driverless trucks to meet the driver shortage woes faced by the shipping industry. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, shipping companies have been among the worst hit. Like JB Hunt Transport Services Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., and FedEx Corp., a few big-timers have been testing automated trucks. This new solution seems to be a long-term solution to an intractable labor problem.

Driverless Technology – Under Scrutiny

Sterling Anderson, a co-founder of Aurora Innovation Inc., responsible for testing driverless truck software with Uber Technologies logistics section, states, “Human drivers, by our nature, have to eat, sleep, and take breaks. What that leads to is enormous underutilization of these trucks and much slower movement of goods.”Tesla Inc. has introduced the Autopilot feature with a driver assistance system, which is the closest to autonomous passenger service but is constantly under scrutiny as safety advocates call the technology risk to motorists. Safety advocates warn that the technology is still unproven and has more chances for fatal crashes.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Cathy Chase say, “What we see playing out on the roads with some cars claiming to have self-driving capabilities is giving people some pause. We should not be putting test products on the roads.”

Ariel Wolf, general counsel to the Self-Driving Coalition, spoke in favor of the new technology, “Autonomous trucks serve as an active partner to companies trying to address the truck driver shortage. He stresses, “It has to be safe, but we have to get these vehicles on the road as swiftly as possible”, adding that the trucker shortage is projected to keep growing, leading to price increases and delays.

Autonomous Trucks Can Be a Game-Changer

TuSimple Holdings recently completed the first fully autonomous semi-truck drive on open public roads, traveling 80 miles on public roads without a human driver from Tucson, Arizona, to Phoenix, Arizona. Alongside Waymo, the autonomous vehicle unit owned by Google p a r e n t A l p h a b e t Inc., also tried out autonomous tests of delivery vans with United Parcel Service Inc. with driverless rigs carrying freight.

Aurora Innovation with Uber Freight connects shippers digitally and hauling loads between Dallas and Houston terminals. Anderson is positive and anticipates that a fully autonomous version of the software will be available by 2023. “The business benefit is huge.” While a human driver takes two to three days to move a cargo load from Los Angeles to Dallas, a self-driving truck could make the trip non-stop in 24 hours. “That’s a game-changer for the industry when they can move goods that quickly and efficiently,” he said.

Greg Regan, president of the AFLCIOs transportation trades department, says, “We would be naive to think we could stop technological advancement. That’s never been our goal. But we have to make sure it is implemented safely, and we have to make sure that we are also looking at the economic impact of deployment.”

GLOBAL FREIGHT FORWARDING BUSINESS HEADED BY ROSHMON MANOLI

cssHaving begun my CSS career in 2000, I have had the opportunity to grow along with the organization and witness its phenomenal growth from close quarters. It has been a privilege to be a part of CSS’s successful journey as it completes 25 years in the shipping and logistics business this year.

CSS has evolved to become one of the most innovative service providers in this region and with offices across the GCC and the Indian subcontinent and extensive global coverage through its international network partners.

Marching onwards

In my new role, I look forward to growing the global freight forwarding business at CSS and the experienced team of product specialists in each of the verticals – Air, Ocean, Supply Chain & CHR Network / Key Account Management. Considering the challenges the industry faced in 2020 amidst the pandemic, tight capacity has been a key characteristic for both air and sea freight forwarding markets. This is likely to continue during the first half of 2021. However, our team is geared to tackle this by offering new solutions and services to customers, building stronger customer relationships, and our key partners. Over the next three years, one of our focus areas is balancing volume growth with revenue sustenance across all the verticals.

New market segments

The E-commerce retail and manufacturing industry will be one of the big drivers for the logistics business. We see this as a potential opportunity for revenue growth moving ahead. The strong work ethic and ‘customer-first’ culture of the CSS team will eventually propel the strategies and plans for the next five years as we surge ahead on full steam towards completing three successful decades in the business.

RICHARD VARGHESE LEADS THE SUPPLY CHAIN WING

cssAs I look back at the past ten years of my journey with the CSS family, my heart swells with pride and joy at the immense experience and deep insights I have gained within the freight industry.

The Logistics and Supply Chain Management industries face an uphill battle this year, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This unprecedented crisis has brought new opportunities to the transportation, logistics, and warehousing verticals across the globe. In the year 2021, my team intends to focus on Supply Chain development, and I foresee a good growth rate over the forecast period of 2021-2025. 

CSS is one of the major service providers in the warehousing industry in the UAE, with 500,000 sq feet of storage facility located within Freezones and also across Dubai Mainland. Our capacities include storage solutions for general commodities for both temperature and non-temperature-controlled products. 

Even though CSS has expanded to different verticals over time, warehousing has always remained a core CSS activity for years. With several long-term clients across a wide range of industry sectors, from electronics, apparel, spare parts, tools, furniture, and much more, we have built long-lasting relationships with our client base.

We look forward to developing upcoming services like last-mile deliveries, exhibition, and international relocations as part of our plans for 2021.

Reiterating the vision set forth by the company, our vertical has set our sights on providing the highest quality warehouse logistics, storage, and distribution services across the UAE and beyond.

C.H. ROBINSON ANNOUNCES ALLIANCE WITH MICROSOFT

TO DIGITALLY TRANSFORM THE SUPPLY CHAIN OF THE FUTURE

Collaboration will integrate C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere® and Microsoft Azure cloud technologies to make real-time visibility possible in supply chains and accelerate innovation in transportation

C.H. Robinson and Microsoft Corp. announced they are joining forces to digitally transform supply chains of the future by combining the power of C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere,® Microsoft Azure and Azure IoT to meet the changing demands of evolving global supply chains. Through this alliance, the companies aim to enable real-time visibility for C.H. Robinson customers.

“The pace of change we’re seeing in the supply-chain industry today is unparalleled. Being able to quickly scale and adapt our technology is what helps give our customers a competitive advantage,” said Chris O’Brien, chief commercial officer, C.H. Robinson. “As we continue to invest and enhance our technology built by and for supply-chain experts, we look to partner with other best-in-class companies that bring the most value to our customers. Through Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, we gain more scalability, premier data security and increased application speed, which benefit our customers and carriers around the world.”

Through this collaboration, Navisphere — C.H. Robinson’splatform — will now leverage Azure IoT Central to integrate IoT device monitoring that measures factors such as temperature, shock, tilt, humidity, light and pressure in shipments to give customers an even more detailed level of intelligence about goods as they move through the supply chain. Together, C.H. Robinson and Microsoft work with many of the Fortune 250 companies, which means this alliance makes it even easier to scale and develop new solutions to provide the world’s largest shippers with greater supply-chain efficiency, real-time insights and visibility.

“We are committed to providing customers with a trusted, easy-to-use platform so they can build seamless, smart and secure solutions regardless of where they are on their IoT journey,” said Sam George, corporate vice president, Azure IoT, Microsoft. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with C.H. Robinson as it transforms the supply-chain industry by leveraging our Microsoft Azure and Azure IoT solutions.”

The new collaboration builds on C.H. Robinson and Microsoft’s already rich history of working together. Navisphere Microsoft’s global supply chain, giving the company real-time visibility into inventory, at rest or in motion anywhere in the world. In addition, in collaboration with Microsoft, C.H. Robinson built Navisphere Vision, a global real-time visibility product that leverages Azure IoT solutions, machine learning and predictive analytics to assess potential disruptions across supply chains.

Through C.H. Robinson’s TMC division and Navisphere Vision, Microsoft is driving innovations in its own supply chain to provide more predictability and proactive decision-making to its various business groups.

“The supply chain of the future is smarter, less volatile and can be navigated with a new level of visibility thanks to the power of this relationship. Through this collaboration, our customers receive a greater competitive edge, as well as industry-leading insights and expertise,” said Jordan Kass, president of Managed Services at C.H. Robinson.

In addition to C.H. Robinson’s innovation on Azure, the company is also leveraging Dynamics 365 and Power BI to streamline its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, supporting C.H. Robinson’s commitment to customer centricity from small business to the world’s largest shippers. As part of its relationship with Microsoft, C.H. Robinson will integrate its real-time pricing, execution and transportation management tools into Dynamics 365, making these digitally-driven logistics capabilities available to Microsoft customers.

About C.H. Robinson
C.H. Robinson solves logistics problems for companies across the globe and across industries, from the simple to the most complex. With nearly $20 billion in freight under management and 18 million shipments annually, we are one of the world’s largest logistics platforms. Our global suite of services accelerates trade to seamlessly deliver the products and goods that drive the world’s economy. With the combination of our multimodal transportation management system and expertise, we use our information advantage to deliver smarter solutions for our more than 119,000 customers and 78,000 contract carriers. Our technology is built by and for supply chain experts to bring faster, more meaningful improvements to our customers’ businesses. As a responsible global citizen, we are also proud to contribute millions of dollars to support causes that matter to our company, our Foundation and our employees. For more information, visit us at www.chrobinson.com (Nasdaq: CHRW).

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

DIVERSIFIED SUPPLY CHAIN-QATAR’S ANSWER DURING THE PANDEMIC

The global supply chain system had already been a victim of the rising tide of economic nationalism and protectionism. The COVID-19 pandemic only added to the stress on the already suffering economy.

Speaking at the opening of the digital roundtable “Qatar at the Crossroads of the World” organized by The Business Year (TBY), H E Ahmad Al Sayed, Minister of State and Chairman of QFZA stated, “Qatar and the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) had a head start in dealing with the coronavirus crisis due to the country’s experience, and has greatly benefited from its diversified supply chain.”

He further added, “Cost-efficiency can no longer be the only guiding principle of the supply chain. And the world must now ensure that supply chains deliver value for money and have resilience built-in that they are resistant to their future disruption, so the global economy can keep moving.”

The need to accept the added complications by building resilience in the supply chain and maintaining the customers’ operational efficiency is the need for the hour.

The roundtable also featured many experts like the international trade leaders from the United Nations on Trade and Development and World Economic Forum and representatives from the Pharmaceutical, Food, and Beverages, and Logistics sector.

Al Sayed also emphasized that Qatar and QFZA had already diversified the supply chain to ensure the world and Qatar remain connected. For this, they have a tried and tested system that proved its worth during the pandemic. He pointed out the various opportunities available at QFZA included new infrastructures with tailor-made solutions, support for the Qatar 2020 Legacy Project, and the opportunity to partner with top Qatari companies like Qatar Airways and Qatar Petroleum.

As the pandemic leads to disruption and shift in the existing business models, it is ideal for increasing reliance on technology and innovation. This would only help accelerate Qatar’s diversification efforts, said Lim Meng Hui, CEO of QFZA.

Hence the Free Zones are now focusing on creating partnerships with non-oil sector companies. He further added, “We continue to study this development, and we hope to develop new policies and strategies. Post COVID-19, emerging technologies, and advanced industries sectors are expected to grow even more. We have already identified these as strategic areas for QFZA, and we will continue to identify innovative companies in these areas, such as IoT, electric vehicles, and more”.

Hui added that the QFZA plans to expand to new areas such as logistics, e-commerce, regional distribution, and small-scale production in certain value chains.

Ayse Valentin, CEO of TBY, who was present during the webinar, stressed the role of Free zones in attracting direct foreign investment to develop a balanced, diversified economy.

She also stated that global trade is currently facing a harsh period due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising protectionism by the governments.

MIDDLE EAST BUSINESSES MUST ADOPT NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN RESPONSE TO SUPPLY CHAIN RISKS

At the Procurement and Supply Chain MENA Forum, the industry leaders highlighted that businesses in the Middle East could become among the most competitive in the world by taking a bold approach to their procurement and supply chain strategies.

Sam Achampong, head of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) MENA, stressed that forward-thinking companies should look to their procurement and supply chain strategies as a key differentiator. In his keynote address on the topic, What Future Procurement Leaders Look Like, he said: “The application of comprehensive procurement and supply chain strategies can add real value to all aspects of a business including profitability, accountability, reputation, sustainability, and corporate governance.”

He explained that organizations in the MENA region had undertaken procurement transformation exercises which in time allow these entities to become more competitive, not just regionally, but globally.

Maha Bouzeid, VP Head of Sourcing in the MEA region for Ericsson, reiterated Achampong’s belief in the potential of the procurement strategy to support business transformation and competitiveness. She said: “Organizations are on a constant search to find even more efficiencies and increase their top-line growth. Procurement has an important role to play in both cases by securing the right cost base and by building the partner ecosystem to deliver on new solutions in the Industry 4.0 era. We need the know-how of all the different players in the industry to enable innovation, create new use cases to fulfill rising customer demands, and monetize these for the benefit of all.”

Achampong and Bouzeid emphasized that the procurement sector needs to invest in skills development to achieve its potential and be a driver for business change. “Traditional skills, such as negotiation, and administrative skills, such as planning and coordination, are being replaced by the need for critical thinking skills and complex problem solving, aligned with emotional intelligence centered around stakeholder management and influencing skills,” said Achampong.

“For procurement leaders to be effective, they need to be able to convince their key C-Level stakeholders to adopt recommended strategies aimed at aiding business growth and increasing value for the organization. Those unable to align with their stakeholders will not be able to lead the transformation of their functions from a transactional cost center to a strategic net contributor to an organization’s overall value.”

Bouzeid added: “Competence is key – procurement needs to attract the best talents in the industry with a solid understanding of the procured solution and the cost drivers for these. Businesses need people who are strong influencers, who can guide stakeholders through the decision-making process and who can be efficient negotiators. “We need to lead the way in terms of digital transformation – we can work heavily on automation to reduce manual, tactical tasks. If we can effectively do this transformation, the added value we provide will be significant.”

Procurement & Supply Chain MENA, in partnership with CIPS MENA, gathered heads of procurement & supply chain to share big picture, business-led strategies on how not only to guarantee supply during industry flux but become a key value driver, innovator and business partner for any organisation.

Supply Chain Management at CSS Group

PROVIDING IMMACULATE SERVICES IN THE SCM INDUSTRY

It is no secret that the UAE is pacing ahead of the world to become one of the largest supply chain management industry with an exponential growth rate of 5.7%, as per Frost and Sullivan’s studies revealed. This phenomenal growth attributes to the visionary governance of the ruling family, and the already announced significant events like the Expo 2020 falling ahead soon.

With one of the largest Supply Chain Management Facility in the UAE, Consolidated Shipping Services Group (CSS Group) caters to a multitude of clientele for the last Two decades in this market. At this juncture, Lighthouse had a brief chat with Mr. Hareesh Haridas, the Manager of CSS Supply Chain Management in the UAE.

“The Supply Chain Management facility was vigorously enhanced to meet up with the market requirements in the UAE, two decades back and today we have more than 400,000 Square feet of closed storage facility including temperate controlled ones in the UAE. The open yard facility in Dubai and Sharjah itself is more than 200,000 Square feet.” Mentioned Hareesh.

With its growing infrastructure, free zones and the locational advantages, UAE continues to be the most favored logistical hub for many multi-national companies. The much ambitious leadership of the country is gearing up to take the region from “Logistical Hub” to the “Supply Chain Nerve Centre” status and thereby change the entire outlook.

“As on now, CSS Group caters to many multi-national companies that include Electronics, Apparels, Printers and copiers, Power tools, white goods etc. to name a few. We are expecting to cater to more segments and our greatest advantage is the large pool of professionals working with us” said Hareesh.

The associations and partnerships amongst industry fraternity like the SCLG, promote large events and networking opportunities in the region which is easily accessible to Five billion people within an eight-hour flying time to reach.

“Being a dedicated and professional entity providing first class services in an affordable manner, CSS Group strives to become the front runner in the Supply chain management industry. Our reputation of flawlessness for more than Two decades in the industry and with a global reach shall bring us greater rewards in the future” Concluded Hareesh.