A path to standardization

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As we enter a new decade numerous issues remain, one of which is standardization within the maritime industry. Specifically, data standards.

In a step to move towards global standards a January 2020 statement, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) published a common set of processes in January 2020.

This also included data and interface standards for Track and Trace (T&T), as part of its efforts to enable collaboration across the maritime supply chain.

André Simha, Chairman of the DCSA Supervisory Board and Global Chief Digital & Information Officer of MSC said, “The ocean carrier community is enthusiastic and committed to advancing industry standards for the good of all parties. T&T standardisation is a huge advancement for container visibility and trade overall.”

Meanwhile, earlier in January Terminal Industry Committee (TIC 4.0), also made steps to become formally registered. The TIC 4.0 brings together those in the industry to “define and adopt” standards.

Collaborative steps

Speaking to Port Technology International, Alex Van Winckel, Senior Consultant with optimization and technology expert Inform said, “The industry has been talking about collaboration for several years now, and I think the main difference today is not whether to collaborate, but rather, how to.

“From my point of view, it’s crucial to define the ends between which collaboration should work. Today, it is impractical for collaboration across a very large portion of the supply chain.”

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“We have to select the most appropriate sections where we want to have collaboration. Then, we need to find an appropriate partnership vehicle to generate the most value within those smaller chains,” he said.

“When we talk about collaboration, inevitably, it brings us back to the conversation on the definition of standards. Without going down a rabbit hole, we need to have standards in place so that we don’t have one-off projects that are closed off to the initial participants,” he pointed out.

“Once established, a collaboration should enable others to easily join where it makes sense, and standards are what will enable this.”

Of note, the DCSA points out in its statement: “Current DCSA ocean carrier membership represents 70% of the global container shipping market, and all carriers are invited to join us in collaborating to develop more efficient, automated digital container shipping.”

According to TIC 4.0, its goal is to promote, define and adopt standards that will enable cargo-handling industry to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution. Again, this committee is built up of a number of members.

Shifting conversation

Matthew Wittemeier, Marketing Manager at Inform, said, “I’ve spoken and written about data standards extensively since joining the maritime industry some four years ago, and I think the conversation has shifted this year.

“We’ve moved from discussing needing standards to actively developing them on multiple fronts. As was discussed multiple times at SDP19, and even again at the Smart Ports Summit in Barcelona, we’re at a point now where we need to be consolidating those disparate standards into one,” he noted.  

“But it is important for us, as an industry, to remember that the best way to get buy-in from all stakeholders in adopting standards is to involve them in the creation process. Yes, this is the complicated, chaotic approach to developing a standard, but in the long-run, it leads to an overall high level of adoption and adherence.”

This story was brought to you in partnership with Inform. Visit Inform’s Preferred Partner page here.

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