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Insights from the JOC Port Performance North America Conference

December 23, 2019

by Tom Koontz, Sales Director

Recently, I attended JOC’s Port Performance North America Conference. As the title suggests, this annual conference is focused on container terminal productivity, with representatives from diverse groups, including: terminal operators, port authorities, motor carriers, railroads, labor unions, chassis providers and of course shippers. Here are some of the key themes I observed from attending the event, as well as my own insight.

Essential Role of Sharing Data for Ports

One of the central themes, articulated in the keynote addresses and panels, was the essential role of sharing data in determining both the level of efficiency ports can achieve, as well as the need to deliver the real-time visibility shippers/BCOs increasingly demand. Comments from speakers included a representative from a large port authority saying, “Data is only useful when it’s shared,” and a global terminal operator rep remarking, “We have a responsibility to share data.”

In recent years, I’ve noticed that more members within the industry are recognizing the value of data within the supply chain. I see the next step for stakeholders being to take initiative to share and collaborate for the general good, instead of viewing data as proprietary and a potential source of competitive advantage. Data can then be used to power AI and machine learning-driven solutions, giving your supply chain organization the ability to save costs, provide real-time updates to customers and more.

Ripple Effects of the California AB 5 Bill and IMO 2020

Two other frequently mentioned topics were the expected effects of the California AB 5 Bill and IMO 2020, which both take effect January 1. California’s AB 5 Bill and other similar laws that may be enacted in other states limiting the classification of workers as independent contractors — are a topic of direct concern to motor carriers and the customers they serve.

As states with large ports implement independent contractor laws, there is potential for capacity reduction in these areas, which may lead to increased delays and higher costs. To address these concerns, the onboarding of a technology-enabled and agile supply chain — including the ability to anticipate bottlenecks and adjust freight movements — will be essential.

In addition, IMO 2020 is especially relevant for ocean carriers, as it will mandate their use of low-sulphur marine fuel. Given these new policies, I believe leveraging data-driven technology will be all the more important. With factors such as wages, fuel and insurance expected to drive costs higher, companies that embrace supply chain digitization to maximize operational efficiency and service to their customers will be the winners.

Checkout our learning center articles to learn more about the role of ports in the supply chain and the potential impact of IMO 2020.


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