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Top Ocean Carriers Launch Digital Standards Association

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File image courtesy Maersk

By MarEx 2018-11-14 22:00:00

Five of the world's largest ocean carriers intend to create an association to pave the way for "digitalization, standardization and interoperability" in the container shipping industry. IT executives from Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and ONE are discussing the creation of common information technology standards, which will be openly available and free of charge for all stakeholders in the wider container shipping industry. 

“It’s in the customers' and all stakeholders’ best interest, if container shipping companies operate with a common set of information technology standards," said André Simha, MSC's chief information officer and the group's spokesperson. “We are striving for less red tape and better transparency."

It is not the first time that the containerized freight industry has formed an association to address common IT needs for business operations: INTTRA, the neutral digital platform that handles one out of every four container bookings, started as a joint industry effort with many of the same founding members. 

In a statement, the five carriers acknowledged that the industry has many existing associations, and said that they wanted to form a new open-membership body for IT concerns. It will not build or operate any digital platform, the goup said, but will seek to create common standards to ensure interoperability. In an acknowledgement of the requirements of antitrust compliance, the group said that it "will not discuss any commercial or operational matters."

The group's founding members include carriers from all three major alliances - 2M (MSC and Maersk), THE Alliance (ONE and Hapag-Lloyd), and Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM). They are all close competitors, and they represent five out of the top six carriers in market share rankings. 

“Ocean Network Express sees a wave of innovation technology development in shipping and logistics industry . . .  But, at the same time, we're a little bit cautious about adopting new technology by individual company since there is no common standard in the market," said Noriaki Yamaga, ONE's managing director for corporate and innovation. "With this mind, we feel it would be necessary to do some discussion and collaboration on the area of new technology and innovation to establish common IT standard and governance for the industry."