Just when we thought 2020 was the strangest year for shipping, 2021 happened. Supply chain challenges mounted, pandemic disruptions continued, and we all learned to adjust even more to what is slowly starting to become the new normal.
The essence of what everyone in the industry wants is the same. From vessel owners and large shipping brands to insurers and charter companies, everyone wants transport projects to be safe, efficient, and profitable. Nobody benefits from delays or accidents.
Unfortunately, this last year made safe, efficient, and profitable transport even more difficult.
Here are three big changes that happened this last year to make it hard for the shipping industry safe, efficient, and profitable.
To read our observations from the previous year, be sure to check out our other article.
1. Extreme costs due to supply chain challenges
We wrote about this in an earlier article, but the combination of high demand, low supply, and labor disruptions has caused the cost of transport to sky rocket. Even though the majority of the challenges are happening in container transport, everyone is feeling it. For those of us working in the wind and energy sector, it is becoming harder to find available vessels, which drives up the cost.
Although most experts agree that as supply catches up, costs will go down, it is hard to imagine costs going back to pre-pandemic levels (in any foreseeable future). The disruption has forced many companies to think outside of the box regarding how they transport heavy equipment and, in some cases, pushed them to maximize efficiency through careful planning. Since we are obsessed with safety, efficiency and making sure everything is compliant, extra focus on planning is music to our ears.
2. Labor shortages
In some ways, the labor shortage is to be expected. COVID has disrupted the world in such a way that, at any given time, potential stevedores, captains, inspectors, or surveyors are unable to be working.
Unfortunately, labor shortages have made it difficult to properly staff vessels and ports, which causes delays. In order for transport projects to remain profitable, they need to be executed as quickly as safety and compliance will allow. And this means there is enough manpower for projects to be done properly.
Although it has been frustrating for many in the industry to work through labor shortages all over the world, it is important to remember that accidents on site are always more costly than the disruptive delays of the global labor crisis. If a ship or port is not properly staffed and an incident happens because those in charge of the project try to push it through anyway, it can cost companies millions of dollars, cause potential harm to the workers present, and ultimately damage the long-term reputation of the company.
3. Planning complexity
Because of the other major changes mentioned above, the logistics of transporting heavy and unique equipment from one location to another is getting more and more complicated. Companies are needing to use different vessel types than they are normally using, which means they have to do even more planning to make sure these vessels are capable of doing the job.
In our years of experience, we find that most of the incidents we see out in the field start with poor or insufficient planning. Making sure every aspect of the project is planned for and detailed beforehand has never been more important. Shipping has become even more complex than before, so we must make plans to work through that complexity.
And since the plans are more complex, it is even more important that companies stick with the plan during the project. Apart from poor planning from the beginning, the other major cause of incidents is when a project deviates from the plan. As projects increase in complexity, it is in the company’s best interest to stick with the plan throughout the entirety of the project.
We have seen how difficult this last year has been on many of our client’s and partners across the world. It is harder for projects to stay safe, compliant, and profitable. But we also know that, even in a year like we had, the best way forward is to stick to the solutions that have always worked.
1. Good planning is the most cost-effective way to do business
Sometimes we sound like a broken record, but we are okay with that. Regardless of what is going on in the world, and especially because of it, good planning is essential for success in shipping right now. Not only does good planning prevent accidents and improve overall efficiencies, it can now make the difference between a project being profitable or not. It can cost a lot of money in the current market to charter a vessel for even a day longer than intended. If a port sees that your project is not ready to be executed properly, they will turn your vessel away and make you go back in line (which is very expensive). Right now, because of exorbitant costs and labor shortages, companies literally cannot afford to not plan properly for transport projects. This has always been the case and the volatility of this last year has only proven it.
2. A partner dedicated to overseeing safety and compliance is the best way to protect your brand
There are so many people, companies, and stages of a project, it can be easy for the overall plan to break down at different points. And although safety should be everyone’s priority, there is no guarantee that every vendor or worker will have that in mind throughout the complex logistics of a transport project.
This is how a survey and inspection company can help protect the brand (and the project).
Our job is to mitigate risk by making sure every step of the project is done safely and compliantly.
• We review the plans up front to make sure nothing is missing.
•. We check every lift, lashing, vessel and piece of equipment.
•. We verify everything on site
•. We are the eyes, ears, and voice of our clients throughout the entirety of a project so that, no matter what stage it is at, there is a consistent presence prioritizing safety and efficiency.
Global trade does not stop just because it is a pandemic:
We love the business we are in. We get to meet incredible people around the world, work on projects that are making a difference, and face exciting and different challenges on a daily basis.
Over the last year, we have been overwhelmed with pride by how hard those on our team and our partners have worked to make incredible things happen in the midst of the chaotic market. Because of the hard work of the global trade industry, entire cities are getting clean and sustainable power, essential goods and materials are showing up where they are most needed, and commerce is moving forward.
Pandemic or not, global trade does not stop.
We wish we knew what lay ahead for this upcoming year. But we do not. Despite all of our training and experience, we have not figured out how to predict the future.
What we do know is that safety and compliance is good business. If you need a partner to be your eyes, ears, and voice on site anywhere in the world, be sure to give us a call.
Ready for 2022
Nordic Maritime Solutions would love to be your eyes, ears and voice on site this year. A lot has changed, but our commitment to safety and efficiency remains the same.