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Enhancing non-physical links the way forward

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YCH cross-border trucks are used for seamless connectivity between countries.

ENHANCING non-physical connectivity is the new mantra in the maritime world these days. Leading businesses like APL, NOL, YCH and BHP say that they will be focusing on it with greater vigour going forward.

At APL and NOL ensuring connectivity is their primary role as global ocean carriers. As a facilitator of global trade, APL is well connected across all key trade lanes including Asia-Oceania, Asia-Europe, Intra-Asia, Intra-Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific.

"Connectivity between different players in the supply chain is also critical. A seamless information flow across stakeholders, including consignees, manufacturers, shippers, forwarders, custom brokers, customs, carriers, trade financial institutions and more, would enable smooth and efficient cargo move across a logistics network," says Nicolas Sartini, CEO of APL and NOL.

As one of the world's leading ocean carriers, APL provides world class container shipping and terminal services, as well as intermodal operations supported by leading edge IT and e-commerce.

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APL offers transcontinental cargo shipping across Asia, North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Australia through more than 120 weekly services calling ports in over 70 countries worldwide. APL is part of the CMA CGM Group, a leading worldwide shipping group.

Asked how the blurring of boundaries between shipping and adjacent sectors was impacting the maritime industry, Mr Sartini said that APL focuses on container shipping while it taps on the other expertise and solutions that are available in the market.

"Working very closely with other partners such as forwarders and terminal operators in the supply chain, we leverage their solutions as part of our service delivery according to market needs and commercial viability," he adds.

The annual Singapore Maritime Week "is seen as one of the most recognised industry engagement platforms, where we get to both meet and hear valuable insights from government representatives, industry professionals and thought leaders", says Mr Sartini.

As SMW's networking events and series of conferences discuss critical topics that range from market fundamental shifts to technology and innovation to sustainability, "it is a good occasion for players in the maritime sector to better understand the landscape that constantly changes, and help us to identify solutions and opportunities to be leveraged".

Singapore is home to not just APL's global corporate headquarters, but also home to many other entities in its parent group. "The CMA CGM Group attaches significant importance to Singapore and the region for the deployment of its strategy in Asia. This can be demonstrated by its various recent investments in Singapore. CMA CGM is committed to Singapore and to reinforce the island state's leadership position in the global maritime and shipping industry," says Mr Sartini.

At home-grown YCH Group, "connectivity is an important aspect in our business as this bodes well with YCH's vision on being the Logistics Superhighway, achieved by integrating three critical flows: the physical flow of transporting goods from one place to another, the information flow (shipment date, delivery requests and the myriad of information tagged to the goods) and also the financial flow which consists of matters such as zero inventory models and ownership transfer of materials", says Gabriel Tho, chief information officer.

"By enabling the integration of the three flows, YCH creates and executes effective supply chain management (SCM) solutions that empower businesses for effective SCM."

YCH is also driving connectivity with China's Belt and Road Initiative for global economic growth. As a strategically located trade hub, Singapore is a crucial springboard for China to the rest of South-east Asia.

"With YCH's presence in over 100 locations across Asia-Pacific, YCH will drive connectivity between China and South-east Asia through its extensive network, value adding to international trade through innovative and analytics-driven intelligence, and work with its partners to capture the growing omni-channel retail market," says Mr Tho.

With the blurring of boundaries between shipping and adjacent sectors such as commodities, logistics and supply chain, things are changing rapidly.

"The logistics and supply chain used to infer a series of discrete, siloed and sequential steps from product development to manufacturing, distribution and last mile fulfilment. As we progress to Industry 4.0, digitalisation is key to bringing down those walls and with it, the 'chain' has now evolved into an integrated ecosystem that is fully transparent to all the enterprises involved - from the suppliers of raw materials, components and parts, to the transporters of those supplies and finished goods, the customers demanding fulfilment, and the distilled customers' consumption back to the sellers and producers for business intelligence," says Mr Tho.

"The continuous learning across the logistics and transportation sectors has helped us to find new value creation opportunities, helping enterprises to leverage Singapore's reliable and nimble supply chain management solutions to grow their presence in this region. New technologies and tools such as AI, blockchain and data analytics are new areas that we are learning and developing together with the intention of innovating new end-to-end value propositions for businesses," he adds.

Over at BHP, a leading global chartering company, the belief is that greater connectivity in the maritime ecosystem allows for the resolution of big issues that impact the whole industry, such as higher safety standards and lower shipping emissions.

"When you work in an ecosystem, like the one here in Singapore, it's a collective responsibility to look for outcomes that will raise the water level of the whole industry. Sometimes this means being prepared to deliver against a different set of purposes that traditionally the industry has not been challenged on," says Rashpal Bhatti, vice- president, marketing freight, BHP.

With regard to the blurring of boundaries between shipping and adjacent sectors, he says: "We're seeing charterers who are also vessel owners and vessel owners providing materials to the steel industry. There're often blurred lines along the commodities supply chain. I think this can be a positive. We are able to share non-commercial information, such as vessel incidents and close out reports that help our industry become safer."

BHP also plays an important role as anchor tenant for freight charters in Singapore. "Our business helps gather other industries, like ship owners, brokers, agents, regulators, labour, recruitment agencies and so on. It's a halo effect."

Mr Bhatti says that the SMW could be used to bring the biggest challenges facing the industry to the table and to learn from each other. As one of the most important maritime capitals that attract the world's fleet, Singapore can play a greater role in bulk freight safety.