This article is part of the “Logistics of the Future” series looking at the best logistics startups today.
Maritime shipping: it’s the quiet achiever of transport. After the revolutionary introduction of containerization by Malcolm McLean back in 1956, the industry was completely transformed. While it once took up to two whole weeks just to load and unload containers off a ship, piece by piece, the implementation of containerization not only has saved a huge amount of time when loading and unloading shipments, but it has also had an incredible impact on our global access to affordable goods: consumers may be surprised to learn that roughly 90 percent of everything we buy arrives by ship. As the quantity of goods carried by containers has risen from around 102 million metric tons in 1980 to about 1.83 billion metric tons in 2017, our current state of intercontinental trade, bulk transport of raw materials, and the imports/exports of affordable food and manufactured goods would simply not be possible without maritime shipping.
However, the industry is at a pivotal moment of change: Seeking economies of scale and lower unit costs, carriers are deploying bigger and bigger ships, already with capacities of over 21,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). In addition, 2018 trade tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, and the Global Sulphur Cap regulation by IMO set to go into effect in 2020 have also sent the maritime industry into a frenzy as they look for ways to cut costs during this uncertain period.
To address these issues, maritime logistics startups are using innovative tools like digital platforms, predictive analytics, fuel efficiency solutions, and others to help companies optimize their operations and cut costs during this crucial time, ensuring that more goods are received in a more efficient way.