LONDON: The quest for greater control over the container supply chain is not limited to the carriers, with global container terminal operators also seeking to extend their reach deeper into landside logistics to better connect with owners of cargo or improve digital platforms to ease trade flows.
Two of the world’s largest terminal operators, DP World and PSA, have been active outside of their core container handling businesses recently. DP World over the weekend announced two logistics company acquisitions, in India and Peru, that significantly expand its footprint beyond the ocean carriers, and PSA said when announcing its 2017 results, on March 19, that it would build on technology investment to expand supply chain solutions in its key locations around the world.
The desire to control global end-to-end container logistics is a strategy that mirrors those being employed by container lines, most notably Maersk Group, which is using in-house units Maersk Line, APM Terminals, and Damco to give customers one stop for all their supply chain needs. Other carriers such as CMA CGM, MSC and COSCO Shipping are also pursuing this strategy in varying degrees.
Lars Jensen, CEO of SeaIntelligence Consulting, said a growing number of ports and terminals were starting to branch out into landside logistics.
“I do not see diversification of revenue as the key driver. Instead, what I see is a strategic drive on the part of ports and terminals to enhance their relationship with the actual cargo owners, and through this create a cargo owner preference for a particular port or terminal, and through this influence the carriers,” Jensen said.
For PSA, technology and innovation has always been high on its development agenda. PSA International Group Chairman Fock Siew Wah said, “PSA will continue to work closely with its partners and customers to tap the relevant technologies, develop innovative solutions that facilitate trade flow and improve processes, and co-create business models that will bring sustained benefits and value to all stakeholders in the global supply chain.”
This reach into securing and increasing trade flows and improving the handling of cross-border cargo saw the Singapore-based terminal operator in February increasing its shareholding in CrimsonLogic from 15 percent to 45 percent. Singapore’s Ministry of Trade will hold the majority 55 percent stake in the trade facilitation company through its International Enterprise Singapore unit that promotes international trade.
Goal is next-generation, global, platform solutions
PSA Chief Executive Tan Chong Meng said the investment will enable PSA and CrimsonLogic to co-create the next-generation global platform solutions that, using access to Government trade portals, can integrate processes, improve efficiencies, and deliver added value to global shippers and other stakeholders within the supply chain.
CrimsonLogic developed the world’s first Single Window tradenet for Singapore in 1989. Its subsidiary Global eTrade Services, launched in 2017, is connected to 23 Customs nodes globally and has connected more than 174,200 parties, facilitated more than 13.5 million trade transactions annually, and moved more than 9 billion tonnes of cargo.
DP World, on the other hand, has just made significant acquisitions in the logistics space. The Dubai-based terminal operator made the first purchase by its recently created investment vehicle between DP World and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to buy 90 percent of Continental Warehousing Corporation (Nhava Seva) Ltd., a multimodal logistics operator in India.
In December, the world’s largest terminal company, Hutchison Ports, acquired a 50 percent share of Amsterdam-based terminal and logistics operator TMA Logistics, extending its services into general cargo handling, terminal operations, warehousing, logistics, and project cargo.