2019 will see a continued embrace of information technology to facilitate cargo transportation. All sectors of the marine cargo-handling industry should adapt their operations to utilize these tools that are becoming more widespread. While many cargo interests, carriers, and marine terminal operators have been following the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC’s) proceedings regarding detention and demurrage practices, many of the proponents of regulatory action on the part of the agency are not taking advantage of information portals providing real-time information on container availability, booking status, and vessel schedules.
Information on free-time and demurrage is also readily available for entities that seek to avoid incurring these costs. In its interim report on detention and demurrage practices, the FMC stated that notice of container availability and reasonable opportunity to retrieve cargo would resolve demurrage and detention disputes as well as facilitate the movement of cargo at marine terminals.
Although information technology provides enhanced tools to manage supply chain velocity, an ever-increasing reliance on technology increases potential damages resulting from system failure because of a cyber security attack.
In its survey of 126 senior executives, chief information and technology officers, non-executive security and compliance leaders, and key managers from domestic maritime companies, Jones Walker LLP noted that nearly 40 percent of survey respondents stated that their companies had been the subject of a cyber attack in the past year.
Notably, in September, President Trump signed the National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America, wherein the federal government recognized that a cyber security attack in the maritime sector is of particular concern because of the spillover effects on downstream industries. Accordingly, the government has prioritized the development of the next-generation cyber-resilient maritime infrastructure to ensure the uninterrupted transport of goods.
Given the potential magnitude of economic damage, 2019 should be the year that companies in the marine sector ensure that their cyber systems are rigorously assessed to detect and remediate potential vulnerabilities.