Container data standards effort builds with new carriers joining

Container data standards effort builds with new carriers joining

Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) carrier members now control 70 percent of the world’s container vessel capacity. Photo credit:

A consortium aimed at harmonizing data in the container shipping industry is gaining momentum, thanks to the addition of five major carriers to the group that now encompasses nine of the 11 largest carriers.

Launched in November and cleared by US regulators in April, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DSCA) is designed to bring carriers together to discuss ways to bring uniformity to data protocols across their various systems.

The new carrier members — CMA CGM, Evergreen Line, Yang Ming, HMM, and Zim Integrated Shipping Services — join founding DCSA members Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., Hapag-Lloyd, and Ocean Network Express (ONE). CMA CGM was an original founding member but was not included in the initial list of members announced in April. The other four new members will join pending regulatory approval.

The nine DCSA members control approximately 70 percent of global containership capacity (up from nearly 47 percent from the original four members). Cosco Shipping is the only line among the top five container carriers not participating. “All shipping lines are invited to join,” the association said in a statement.

The broader idea behind the association is to allow other stakeholders, such as shippers, third-party logistics companies, ports, and terminal operators to access data and software across all carriers, DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge told shortly after the association received regulatory approval from the US Federal Maritime Commission.

Bagge said the container shipping industry needs underlying standards in much the same way the telecommunications and banking industries have created such standards to enable new digital products. He also said such standards would enable carriers to function in the same way as logistics technology startups, offering more frequent product updates and upgrades.

Responding to the idea that software companies could provide the data interoperability needed in lieu of standards development, Bagge said carriers should not “rely on third parties to do that.”

That echoes discussions that has had with individual carriers in recent weeks, where carrier executives have emphasized the need to better control their own data, rather than giving that data to third parties to monetize it.

Bagge said the initiative would eventually expand to include input from shippers, forwarders, ports, and trucking companies, but that limiting the association to container carriers would enable DCSA to sort out its own issues around digitization and data standardization first.

DCSA has also brought in Henning Schleyerbach, formerly senior director of customer relationship management at Hapag-Lloyd, to serve as chief operating officer, the association said.

Contact Eric Johnson at and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.