Driving forces and new paradigms: efficiency in container shipping



Oscar Pernia, Director of Product Management (Automation), Navis, San Francisco, California, USA Manuel Perez, Director of Product Management (Engineering), Xvela, San Francisco, California, USA


Container shipping operations are changing and efficiency is now of paramount importance to both shipping lines and terminal operators. Operational practices, tools and industry paradigms are being tested by fundamental forces at every turn. Because of this, shipping lines and container terminals are developing innovative ways to achieve more reliability, connectivity and integration. This is pushing out the current boundaries for efficiency and removing current beliefs of the container shipping industry as operating in the ‘Stone Age’. In the near future, container terminals, and ports in general, will operate more like airports in terms of real-time management and in terms of cost, risk and contingency management. With over 90% of all cargo being delivered across the world’s oceans, it is a vital requirement to use technology to improve all shipping related processes and to create a ‘pit-stop’ engagement and culture between shipping lines and container terminals. In this article, we will look at industry signals, operational strategies and key performance indicators (KPIs) that container terminals and shipping lines need to focus on; leading to an articulation of how cooperation and engagement between shipping lines and container terminals will become of critical importance.

Driving forces in the shipping industry

The following forces are testing current operational practices:


Today, it is clear that we are facing a new economic reality. The consolidation of concepts such as economies of scale and 'just in time' production has opened a new framework for trade and logistics activities in general, and for container shipping in particular

Service excellence

Shipping capacity is consolidating in order to optimise shipping costs and offer reliable ‘door-to-door’ services, within tight cost controls and delivery schedules

Operational Risk Management

Increasing vessel size and capacity, tight cost controls and shipping line alliances are trends that we see continuing. These factors make it increasingly difficult for terminal operators to effectively manage their operational costs while meeting the demands of their customers


Public pressure and demand for a ‘green’ and sustainable shipping industry will continue, pushing many sites to reduce energy consumption and pollution


New paradigms for planning, monitoring, controlling and optimising shipping activities are today a reality with new tools and techniques that can be applied across all areas of the supply chain From these industry signals, it is clear that there is a strong need for shipping lines and container terminals to collaborate and work together to improve the efficiencies both are striving for.

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