The economic downturn in recent years followed by the quick upturn in early 2010 affected everyone in the maritime community and has taught us all a few very important lessons. We need to maintain a strong network of suppliers and should focus on more accurate volume forecasting. Shippers and carriers have had to adjust and re-evaluate their existing relationships and develop new ones. The time is right for new ideas and a fresh approach that turns the lessons learned into core competencies.
Importers and exporters understand the need to expand carrier partnerships to better balance supply chain options. Everyone faces similar challenges: Equipment shortages, chassis management, slow-steaming, increasing fuel costs and slow economic growth will continue to change the landscape. How we all react to these challenges, in good times and bad, is what defines us.
As we look forward to 2011 and beyond, we should be excited as it appears the worst is behind us. We should look to develop strategic partnerships that will meet individual needs. Challenges remain as we move into the future: Carriers will need rates at compensatory levels, and shippers need viable carriers to provide consistent and reliable services.
Flexibility and speed to adapt to the evolving landscape will be the key for both viable carriers and shippers. We must be willing to use some of the difficult experiences of the last two years to help us work together to build a better today and tomorrow.