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2012 Nov 24

TOC Container Supply Chain Americas press release: Speaker interviews

TOC CSC Americas speakers key in on big ships, cost efficiency and operational flexibility as key container supply challenges

In the run-up to TOC Container Supply Chain Americas, the TOC conference team polled key speakers for their take on the most critical challenges facing the container supply chain, shipping and transport sectors in North America and LAC

London, 22.11.2012 - Ocean carrier recovery strategies, catering for the coming generation of mega container vessels - and the consequent cascading of existing large vessels into regional and niche trades, supply chain collaboration and executing more efficient inland intermodal networks are some of the top-of-mind issues for container supply chain executives speaking at the upcoming TOC Container Supply Chain Americas conference in Panama, 4-6 December.


www.tocevents-americas.com

Hernan De Mezerville is Logistic Operations Manager, Caribbean & Central America for food giant Kraft Foods. He speaks in the session on Perishable Cargo Trade Trends & the Impact for Regional Logistics & Transport as part of the TOC Cold Chain stream

Q: In current market conditions what do you see as the main challenges to successfully executing the logistics chain?
A: Based on current conditions, with Brazil slowing down and the changing environment for the rest of Latin America, our main focus will be supply chain simplification, supporting cost control targets, and route-to-market new options, guiding our commercial department in new ways to reach customers. Also, top management is not only requesting cost controls but also high productivity targets, moving the P&L line of shipping expenses savings to improve margins.

Q: What do you consider as the prime responses and priorities for managing today’s volatile container transport environment?
A: Focusing on your core business, trying to limit an increasing number of commercial routes to market within the company and recommending specific markets and customers. This requires specialization of knowledge to handle an increasing numbers of external variables.

Q: Obviously the expansion of the Panama Canal locks is a major theme to be addressed during the conference. What are your thoughts on its potential impact on container supply chains?
A: Based on our company experience, investment in the Panama Canal should be reflected in extra capacity to handle containers and vessels. In the past year, high congestion at Panama ports and strikes affected our replenishment plans with raw and packed material for our Costa Rica and Nicaragua plants, as well as affecting our exports process to the Caribbean.

Q: What is the main message you would like to get across to the supply chain professionals gathering at TOC CSC?
A: Considering the fast changing and volatile environment, liner companies should be closer to big manufacturers and customers that will drive the future demand for commodities, finished goods and packaging materials. Collaborative initiatives, constant communications and alignment should be the rule for the future years. The key to success: collaboration, collaboration, collaboration, and to understand demand behaviour in the end-to-end global supply chain.

Tom Ward, Chief Engineer at leading US terminal operator Ports America, will discuss container terminal efficiency in the session Defining New Expectations & Responses for Productivity, Safety & Sustainability

Q: In current market conditions what do you see as the main challenges to successfully executing the logistics chain?
A: We are facing a need to respond to the imminent arrival of newer, bigger ships with the deployment of new, larger cranes and supporting equipment, on existing, aging facilities, in challenging capital financing conditions, in constrained ports. Ship owners can build oversized ships much faster than we can build ports, docks, and cranes to serve them. The liners’ own challenging fiscal conditions have led to constraints in the income flowing to the terminals and ports, making proactive development more challenging.

Q: What do you consider as the prime responses and priorities for managing today’s volatile container transport environment?
A: We need to provide flexible capacity at a number of ports within each operating range, and be able to provide co-ordinated service across those ports, so that liner companies can flex and optimize the deployment of vessels in response to market forces, while remaining confident that they can be served wherever they go.

Q: What are your thoughts on the potential impact of the Panama Canal expansion on container supply chains?
A: We are not particularly concerned about the impact of the Canal expansion on larger global supply chains. We provide services on both US coasts, able to serve bigger ships however their deployments evolve. Overall, the advent of the new Canal locks presents a major step forward for the entire maritime industry, and we are positioning ourselves to provide a high level of service across all growth areas.

Q: What is the main message you would like to get across to the supply chain professionals gathering at TOC CSC?
A: Our central message is that we are taking a great number of creative steps, working closely with our host port authorities, to find funding for expansion projects and to execute those projects in advance of the arrival of New Panamax ships on each coast.  We have set new standards for public-private partnerships, and we are using these PPPs to advance port capacity and capability in support of our liner customers’ needs.  We are expanding into new Latin American markets as well, so that we can provide liners and shippers with more comprehensive logistics choices.

Michael Kaasner Kristiansen is Managing Director, Inland Services, Latin America for global operator APM Terminals. He participates in the session Ports, Distribution Centres & Logistics Hubs: Development Trends & Supply Chain Impact

Q: What do you see as the main challenges to successful logistics chains?
A: Good planning, meticulous execution and quick reactions to changes in the market place are important irrespective of market conditions. The fluctuations of cargo flows over time and from week to week put much more pressure on shipping lines, marine terminals and inland terminals, raising cost and risk. In this sense operational efficiency, cost efficiency and flexibility to rapidly change with market conditions is the prime response to managing a volatile transport environment.

Q: What are your thoughts on the potential impact of the Panama Canal expansion on container supply chains?
A: The Panama Canal expansion will open up cost-efficient liner hub networks where Pacific, Atlantic and regional trades will complement each other. I also believe the Panama Canal expansion will signal the complete containerization of refrigerated cargo from the West Coast of South America and larger tonnage deployed to cater for this will also further dry cargo containerization.

Q: What is the main message you would like to get across to the supply chain professionals gathering at TOC CSC?
A: My specific topic is ‘Inland Terminals’, so I will be speaking on the importance of these facilities in the logistics chain.

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