Commentary

Few in the industry combine the breadth of experience and willingness to share their opinions in an open forum. Ron Widdows, former NOL-APL chief who now heads Hamburg-based Rickmers Group, is one of them.
If you think drayage is a tough job today, imagine doing it with horses.
Though it seems odd to hear myself called an “elder statesman,” my 42 years in transportation allow me an opinion of the industry today. Is it better or worse, or just different?
Combine several hundred longshoremen on a work break with energetic speakers using microphones they don’t need, and you get a lot of noise.
Few trucking companies, it’s safe to say, were sad to see 2013 end.
Transshipping can be fraught with costs, time and risk that need to be fully recognized, weighed and accepted before proceeding with this option.
We are an LTL carrier. Some shippers of products used in food packaging are placing restrictions on us that we are questioning.
When Ron Widdows, CEO of shipowner and lessor Rickmers Group, was asked at the TPM conference, “Is there any hope for this industry?” he replied: “Unless the people who are running the companies get to the point where they can price the product at a level where they can make money, then we will stay at the same rate levels for years.”
Port congestion that spills out into the real world in the form of truck lines, pollution, supply chain delays and occasional violence is a rapidly escalating problem affecting foreign trade.
There were no real losers among U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf ports that have ambitious expansion plans under the Obama budget released last week.
As a general rule, “shipper” and “consignor” refer to one and the same person/entity, in law and general usage. Still, there is a difference, and one that occasionally becomes important.
Call it the “mega” age. The 13,000-TEU-plus vessels that have spawned the formation and expansion of alliances such as the P3, G6 and, most recently, Evergreen’s joining the CKYH are the latest examples of a container shipping industry taking dramatic measures to control its fate.
I’ve been reading various articles on Southern California’s operating problems related to chassis, terminal conditions, truckers and an unfortunate internal report of a container sitting at a terminal in Long Beach for 10 days after being discharged from the vessel awaiting a trucker to take it to the railyard for movement by train to Chicago.
If there’s a theme to this year’s TPM Conference, it’s that 2014 is the year of the game-changer in international logistics. The changes the industry is grappling with as we congregate in Long Beach this week are profound and will define the main challenges confronting shippers, carriers, third-party logistics providers and others possibly for years.

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