The ocean awaits

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) has launched the maritime industry’s Seafaring Skills Census.
The 2018 Census received 169 responses, providing an excellent cross-section of the industry indicating the importance the sector places on this information.
The census shows there are currently over 5,500 seafarers working at sea and ashore. Alarmingly, 52% are older than 46 and only 8% younger than 30. The census also forecasts a 560+ shortage of seafarers in 2023.
MIAL CEO Teresa Lloyd commented on the findings of the report, acknowledging that gaining seafaring skills in Australia is difficult when it depends on ships being available. The census is the first step in a more holistic evaluation on the national skilling need.
Ms Lloyd observed: “As everyone with an interest in the maritime industry knows the workforce is aging, the opportunities to train and work in the industry are reducing, yet the need for qualified and experienced officers is as great as ever.
“The training pipeline has reduced to a trickle. The end users of seafarer skills need to do more. Ports, regulators, educators, surveyors, the entire maritime community depend on having sufficiently experienced people available to fill key roles and they need to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem.
“There is great opportunity for the industry to better work together to maximise the efficiency of the limited training opportunities that currently exist, to share the cost burden across those who need the skills, and increase the pool of people entering the maritime industry,” said Ms Lloyd.
In introducing the census report, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development the Hon Michael McCormack MP said of the Census: “Providing this data to the maritime sector is critical to the future planning needed to identify opportunities for industry sectors and governments to collaborate, foster innovation, encourage investment and develop the systems we need to ensure a steady supply of new mariners to fill critical roles at sea and on land.”
MIAL welcomed the comment from the Deputy Prime Minister and called on the government to work with industry and support initiatives that ensure skills so critical to the national economy are developed and maintained.
MIAL also announced its commitment to furthering interest in the sector via the MIAL Maritime Introduction prize, an opportunity for a young person to sail on the Young Endeavour, attend the suite of MIAL training courses, and be exposed to a wide range of facets of our sector via a work experience placement with MIAL. Details of eligibility, application process and selection criteria for this prize will be announced in the very near future.
Click here to view the official report.
 

The RENAULT-NEOLINE-cargo sailing-ship sustainable supply chains transport

Renault to bring back cargo sailing ships

Groupe Renault has announced the signing of a 3-year partnership with Nantes start-up NEOLINE to develop a more sustainable maritime transport service powered by wind, and to contribute to the environmental management of its logistics chain while nearly 60% of the group’s parts and vehicles are transported by sea.
Vice President Strategic Environmental Planning at Groupe Renault Jean-Philippe Hermine said: “Groupe Renault’s objective is to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle throughout its entire life cycle, from parts transportation up to delivery and end-of-life processing. In the context of our strategy to explore new sustainable mobility solutions and to continue along the road to reducing our carbon footprint, the ship designed by NEOLINE, which combines energy efficiency and operational relevance, has truly captured our attention”.
Alliance global director production control Jean-François Salles added: “The partnership with NEOLINE is the latest example of our supply chain’s commitment to reduce the carbon footprint by 6% between 2016 and 2022. For nearly 10 years, we have been working to identify the most environmentally sustainable solutions: for example, optimising the fill rates of the containers and trucks, producing eco-friendly packaging, and implementing a multimodal system. We are also developing more initiatives, such as the use of natural gas transportation between parts suppliers and production sites, the evaluation of transporters’ environmental performance, the modernisation of truck fleets, and of course the optimisation of our flows to reduce the number of kilometres travelled and to eliminate empty trips.”
CEO of NEOLINE Jean Zanuttini said: “We are especially pleased that Groupe Renault, a key player in accessible and sustainable mobility for all, is the first partner to join us on board our journey by trusting in NEOLINE’s maritime transport research. Considering that the traditional sea freight accounts for nearly 3% of CO2 emissions in Europe, NEOLINE aims to build an innovative French way to address a global environmental challenge while remaining within an industrial and competitive framework, with the support from its partners.”
To create a maritime transport capable of meeting the environmental challenges of our time, NEOLINE is developing its industrial-scale wind-powered freight services that are cleaner, customised and competitive, in response to the logistical needs of shippers. Led by a team of maritime professionals, this shipowner project has culminated in the design of a commercial demo with the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90% through the use of wind power primarily, combined with a cost-cutting speed and optimised energy mix, compared to a traditional cargo ship on an equivalent route. The demo, a 136-meter RO-RO ship and 4,200 square metres of sail area, features an innovative blend of technical innovations borrowed from the maritime transport industry, as well as from competitive sailing, in order to make transport more logistically and economically proficient, while also setting the bar for energy efficiency.
The objective is to build two ships based on this model and to commission the vessels by 2020-2021 on a pilot route joining Saint-Nazaire, the U.S. Eastern seaboard and Saint-Pierre & Miquelon.

Another one joins the mob: Hutchison Ports also to charge

Hutchison Ports Sydney is the latest container terminal in Australia to announce the impost of a new Infrastructure Surcharge of $10.45 per full import or export container handled at the terminal by road or rail from 25 June.
Hutchison Ports Sydney took just one paragraph, posted through its online Customer Portal on 21 May, to justify the surcharge impost, without any consultation with those who must pay: container transport operators (road and rail), and ultimately importers and exporters.
CTAA director Neil Chambers observed: “It shows a particular mindset when Hutchison Ports clearly believes that the only explanation they need to offer to the landside logistics sector is a one-liner describing the surcharge as necessary ‘because of the high cost of additional equipment and infrastructure procured in recent years and used to provide and maintain an efficient terminal landside operation’.
“Hutchison Ports Australia, and its parent company headquarters in Hong Kong, have watched while the other incumbent container stevedoring companies in Australia hiked up their own landside infrastructure surcharges with impunity. They have now decided to get a piece of that unregulated action as well.
“CTAA has engaged with federal and state government ministers, departments and regulators, urging an investigation into how costs and service pricing are being allocated in the international container logistics chain. This seems yet another example of large scale cost shifting occurring without any regulatory balance… at what cost to Australia’s trade competitiveness?
“CTAA maintains that this is not about the recovery of rising business costs at all. All of the recent massive infrastructure surcharge increases, including this latest one by Hutchison Ports Australia in Sydney, are about the stevedore companies trying to maintain their viability in what seems like a stevedore services ‘price war’ playing out as shipping line contracts become due for renegotiation.
“The other major concern of CTAA’s container transport operator alliance companies is that the surcharges are being imposed through Terminal Carrier Access Agreements, which we believe breach the ‘unfair contract terms’ provisions of Australia’s competition laws,” Mr Chambers said.
The published Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) Terminal Carrier Access Agreement states that they may vary the terms & conditions “… at any time by placing a notice on the HPA Portal advising that the terms and conditions have changed.”
Container transport operators are then deemed to have accepted and agreed to the revised terms & conditions if they continue to use any login or the Truck Appointment System (TAS) after the revised terms & conditions have been posted on the HPA online portal.
“No ifs or buts … use the Truck Appointment System to arrange to come to the terminal, and automatically agree to any charge or levy they’d like to impose … no chance to negotiate.”
While the HPA Terminal Carrier Access Terms & Conditions aren’t reissued each year, transport operators pay an annual subscription in July each year. CTAA therefore believes that the terms & conditions are set each calendar year.
“In March this year, AWB Harvest Finance Pools Pty Ltd (AWB) amended its standard form grain pool contracts after the ACCC raised concerns that some terms in the contracts were unfair,” Mr Chambers observed.
AWB’s grain pool contracts originally included terms giving it the power to (inter alia):

  • Unilaterally increase fees to growers after the contract had been accepted by a grower; and
  • Introduce new fees from time to time after the contract was signed.

“The question CTAA has raised with the ACCC is ‘what’s the difference between the AWB unfair contract concerns and the unfair actions of Australia’s stevedoring companies who have each imposed infrastructure surcharges without consultation during the term of their access “contracts” with transport operators?’
“We note that ACCC chairman Rod Sims has indicated that a priority for the competition regulator in 2018 is to follow up on unfair contract terms where the terms are substantially and unfairly weighted to the benefit of one party and cannot be negotiated.
“CTAA is again bringing to the attention of the ACCC our belief that the infrastructure surcharges imposed by the stevedores on container transport operators breach the unfair contract terms provisions of Australia’s competition laws and involve substantial small business detriment,” Mr Chambers said.

MSC container ship banned from Australia

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has banned the Liberian-flagged container ship MSC Kia Ora from Australian ports for three months after the operator failed to ensure crew were paid their wages in full and on time, and that critical equipment was maintained.
AMSA inspected the ship in the Port of Brisbane on Wednesday, 14 March 2018 after receiving a complaint alleging that crew had been underpaid.
During the inspection AMSA found evidence that crew had been underpaid for the previous four months (November 2017 to February 2018), and were owed more than AU$53,000. The outstanding wages had been transferred to the crew just 24 hours before the inspection.
“Failure to pay crew their wages in full and on time is a clear and unacceptable breach of the Maritime Labour Convention,” AMSA’s general manager of operations Allan Schwartz said.
Further breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention were also found during the inspection relating to hours of rest and fitness for duty, Mr Schwartz said, placing the safety of the crew and the ship at risk.
The inspection also revealed that two of the ship’s four generators were defective as well as the starboard main engine fire damper. In total, 24 deficiencies were issued to the MSC Kia Ora. The ship was detained the same evening.
AMSA reinspected the MSC Kia Ora today, 25 March 2018 and was satisfied that all detainable deficiencies had been rectified. The ship was released from detention and immediately issued with a ban, preventing it from accessing Australian ports for a period of three months.
MSC Kia Ora is operated by Vega-Reederei, the same company that operated the Vega Auriga, which AMSA banned in 2014.
“Sub-standard and poorly managed ships that place the welfare of their crews at risk will not be tolerated in Australian waters,” Mr Schwartz said.
AMSA has banned five ships in the past two years.

How you can join the Border Force

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has launched an awareness campaign to encourage the Australian community to support the work of the ABF by reporting suspicious or illegal immigration, Customs and border-related activity to Border Watch.
It is critical that the ABF partners with the community — including business and industry — to help keep Australia safe. Reports to Border Watch help the ABF to investigate, detect and stop illegal and dangerous activity, the organisation said.
ABF Assistant Commissioner Strategic Border Command Kaylene Zakharoff said the ABF has seen some extremely positive outcomes thanks to the reports made by industry. These reports have been instrumental in hundreds of seizures of illicit drugs, tobacco, weapons and wildlife, as well as a number of immigration and visa related operational outcomes.
“In just the second half of last year, the ABF received in excess of 21,500 Border Watch reports, which led to over 1.4 tonnes of drugs and precursors being seized,” she said.
Recently, information was received from a customs broker through Border Watch about a sea cargo consignment. The broker noticed several suspicious things about the shipment that raised potential concerns around its stated contents.
The referral to Border Watch resulted in a large seizure of methamphetamine, located within the consignment, with a street value of over $150 million. This seizure prevented the potential manufacture of over 1.5 million hits of ice.
“Business and industry members are often well placed to identify suspicious activities in their industries and local areas. You or your business can play an important role in helping to protect the border, the economy and the safety of the community by reporting suspicious activities to Border Watch. You don’t have to give your name,” Assistant Commissioner Zakharoff said.
The Border Watch program and its predecessors, Customs Watch and Customs Hotline, has a proven track record of more than 20 years of delivering positive outcomes at the border and has become an integral part of the ABF’s information gathering methods.
By continuing to report suspicious activity to Border Watch, you or your business can help the ABF to stop illegal activity.
The types of reports to make to Border Watch relate to:

  • Customs and border-related offences such as drug and precursor imports, revenue/duty evasion, illegal currency movement, movement of weapons and firearms, and imports of illicit tobacco
  • Immigration offences such as people smuggling, illegal work operations, contrived relationships, false statements, visa overstayers and employer sponsor breaches.

If you see anything suspicious, business and industry are encouraged to report it to Border Watch via the industry premium number 1800 06 1800. Alternatively, you can flag it anonymously with Border Watch at www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch  or contact the program via borderwatch@homeaffairs.gov.au.
If you or your business are involved in international trade or transport sectors, you are strongly encouraged to partner with the ABF by joining the Border Watch industry program. To find out more, visit www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch.
 

20 years of mini straddle carriers

Australian container handling manufacturer Mobicon Mini Straddle Carriers recently celebrated 20 years of manufacturing, with managing director and founder of the company Tom Schults accepting a life time achievement award.
A low-key lunch was held for Mr Schults and the staff at the Mobicon Head Office in Brisbane, where he reflected on designing and selling his first Mobicon Mini Straddle Carrier to long-term client PH Transport back in 1997.
“Many of the challenges Mobicon faced back in the late 1990’s are pretty typical of what most ‘start-up’ companies have to overcome. However, I believe the growth and success of Mobicon Mini Straddle Carriers can be attributed to one major factor.
“We have always stayed true to our product, and concentrated on making Mini Straddle Carriers only. Over the years I have seen other machinery brands expand into all sorts of markets, where I have always believed in making only one type of machine – the Mini Straddle Carrier – and making the best one available on the market.”
Over the two decades since selling his first 2T Mobicon, Mr Schults also talked about the need to be innovative in design, and evolve and adapt along with the needs of clients.
Mr Schults said: “When we released the  Mobicon Top Frame in 2015, it was the first time we had developed a machine that could stack two high without the operator getting out of the cabin. The prototype for the Mobicon Top Frame, was a direct result of the feedback we were getting from our clients, that space was an issue and that going two high was the answer.
“Although 20-odd years seems like a long time to be running a business, I am still as excited today as I was back in the beginning. 2017 has been one of our busiest years so far, and with lots of exciting announcements set for 2018 I can’t see myself retiring any time soon.”
The Mobicon Systems brand is now recognised as the only mini straddle carrier around the world that will not break up the average industrial yard, which has positioned Mobicon as the one for many users.
 
 

Will Melbourne’s port shuttle work?

The Australian and Victorian Governments are committing significant funds to connect the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs using the existing rail network, but container operators are warning that the success or otherwise of the concept is in the detail.
Governments come up with the money
Expressions of interest will soon to be sought to deliver a series of rail freight ‘shuttle’ initiatives on the existing rail network by connecting the port to major freight hubs and businesses.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the proposal would take advantage of rail’s ability to shift larger volumes of freight than trucks.
“[We] are seeing a boom in exports, which has led to trucks taking more produce and freight to the ports. This project will provide the ability to shift larger volumes of freight via rail compared to trucks, and reduce congestion on our roads,” Mr Chester said.
“The freight and logistics industry had identified rail’s potential to reduce transport costs by about 10 per cent, with the proposal potentially improving Australia’s competitiveness.”
Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports Luke Donnellan said the initiative will take trucks off local roads in Melbourne’s inner west.
“The Port of Melbourne will remain our primary freight hub for a generation. With container numbers expected to double over the next two decades we need to act now to share the load between road and rail.
“Alongside the West Gate Tunnel, 24-hour truck bans in the inner west and the Port’s rail access plans, this project will help shift containers from residential streets onto dedicated routes to the port.”
The Australian Government has committed $38 million and the Victorian Government will provide $20 million to the initiative. Funding will be available to upgrade rail connections and improve terminal access.
The devil’s in the detail
The largest conglomeration of container transporters in Victoria the Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) has welcomed the recommitment of $58 million in funding by the State and Federal Governments towards port rail shuttle services in the Port of Melbourne, but has warned that there is ‘much to do’ to make metropolitan rail freight services commercially viable.
“There is no doubt that moving more containerised freight to and from the Port of Melbourne and metropolitan intermodal terminals must be part of the future for Australia’s largest container freight port,” CTAA director Neil Chambers said.
“To date, however, next to no containers move to and from metropolitan areas and the port due to the lack of adequate rail infrastructure and the added costs of using rail for intermodal movements.
“The optimal landside movement of an import container once discharged from a ship involves around six “lifts” if delivered direct from wharf to customer then direct to the empty container depot for de-hire by road.”
“This number of ‘lifts’ rises with the current situation where many containers are ‘staged’ through transport yards to take account of the mismatch of operating hours and other logistics management reasons, both the full container as well as the empty. This can increase the number of ‘lifts’ to as many as ten.
“However, unless we can achieve true ‘on-dock’ rail operations to remove the need for the last-mile movement of the containers within the Port to be undertaken by truck or some other form of transfer vehicle, the number of ‘lifts’ for a typical intermodal operation would be twelve or more.
“Every time you touch the container it costs money, and the current lack of rail integration is the killer from a competition point of view.
“Truly viable intermodal terminals in Australia and overseas also provide the value-added services in situ that reduce local freight journeys and strip out costs for the cargo owner. This is what we need to aspire to through strategically located intermodal terminals in Melbourne’s west, north and south-east.
“It’s important, therefore, that the Port of Melbourne complete its rail strategy development in a timely manner, that the state’s overall freight strategy is refreshed, and the national freight strategy finalised, to ensure that intermodal rail operations are considered as a complete system, not just a series of disjointed nodes with no adequate integrated port connections and infrastructure
“I think we need to be cautious that the community isn’t given the impression that rail intermodal operations will be a panacea to the removal of trucks from our roads,” Mr Chambers said.
“That won’t be the case, because even if we get this right, which we all hope we will, the future still involves thousands of truck movements to and from the port, as well as to and from intermodal terminals for final delivery to the end user.
“We need integrated planning that enhances and protects the future viability of road and rail freight, reduces community amenity impacts where possible, but doesn’t harm freight productivity and cost competitiveness.”
 

Air flies, sea sinks, Logistics Confidence Index grows

Air freight expectations have taken the Ti Logistics Confidence Index higher in June, but growth has been tempered by results in sea freight.
According to World ACD’s latest note, growing cross-border e-commerce demand is one reason why air freight growth is on the up, though interestingly, it appears not have stimulated large increases in express air cargo. It is suggested that this is because most e-commerce finds the regular speed of air cargo sufficient, and e-commerce is not just a matter of flying small individual parcels across the world. In addition, increasing consumer demand in general (electronics in particular) may be another factor, driven by higher purchasing power, especially in Asian markets.
Though IATA statistics trail the current situation by two months, they nevertheless offer a window into the confidence of the air freight industry; April results from the organisation showed yields up by 4.5% year-on-year, whilst FTK rose by 10.5%.
The Sea Freight Index demonstrated a far more mixed picture. In this instance, the present conditions declined, offsetting a slight improvement in expectations.
Vessel space appears to be in much shorter supply than in previous years, following aggressive capacity reduction strategies from the major carriers. Following the Europe-Asia capacity crunch in April, shippers will inevitably be nervous, though at least port congestion problems in China now appear to have been resolved.
Air freight
The Air Freight Index registered a month-on-month rise of 3.1 points to 56.9 for June 2017. Whilst this score reflected a year-on-year improvement of 6.5 points, it stood 2.7 points below the June 2015 total.
The Air Freight Logistics Situation Index noted a month-on-month improvement of 1.5 points to 55.0. This growth was mainly led by the US to Europe lane, which rose by 3.1 points to 51.3. Nonetheless, both the Asia to Europe (up 1.6 points to 59.0) and Europe to US (up 1.4 points to 51.1) lanes grew enough to offset the Europe to Asia lane, which declined 0.3 points to 56.9.
The performance of the Air Freight Logistics Expectations Index can perhaps be described as a June boom. Increases across the board were underlined by particularly strong performance on the Europe to Asia lane, which rose 7.3 points to 59.8. The US to Europe lane saw the second-strongest growth, with an improvement of 5.2 points taking it up to 52.2. A gain of 3.4 in the Asia to Europe lane brought that up to 70.1, whilst a 2.7 point rise in the Europe to US lane resulted in a total of 50.4, ensuring all lanes finished above the 50-point mark for the month.
Sea freight
The Sea Freight Logistics Confidence Index recorded an overall score of 54.9, having decreased by 0.6 points against the previous month’s score. The result was 7.3 points greater than the score registered in June 2016, and 0.8 points greater than that recorded in June 2015.
Standing at 51.8, the Sea Freight Logistics Situation Index declined by 1.7 points against the previous month. This result occurred following declines in three of the four individual lanes, with only the Asia to Europe lane, at 61.8 points, recording an increase (up 1.6 points). US to Europe remained the weakest-performing of the lanes, losing 1.9 points to total 37.8 for June. The Europe to Asia lane recorded a monthly total of 53.7, having declined by 2.8 points, whilst the Europe to US fell further, down 4.3 points to 50.4.
The Sea Freight Logistics Expectations Index totalled 58.0 points, having risen by 0.6 against the May result. This outcome was chiefly driven by the Europe to Asia lane, which increased 2.2 points to 55.8. In addition, the Europe to US lane gained by 0.3 to total 54.1 points, whilst US to Europe increased by 0.1, amounting to 53.8. Together, these results more than offset the 0.5 point decline on the Asia to Europe lane, which nonetheless still recorded the highest figure of the four at 66.8.

Port of Melbourne container truck queue

Container transporters are being ruined by stevedores

Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has expressed concerns that truck operators were only given two days to review and renew an agreement allowing them to access the DP World Australia terminal at Port Botany. Meanwhile, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) is warning that many container transport operators are facing cashflow problems, owing to the new and increased ‘infrastructure surcharges’ DP World and Patrick have implemented / are about to implement.
Take it or leave it
RFNSW says DP World Australia sent carriers a copy of the National Carrier Access Agreement on Wednesday 28 June – just two days before the commencement date of 1 July.
RFNSW general manager Simon O’Hara said: “Previously, our members have had 30 days or even 14 days to renew their agreement, but this year it’s a matter of only days.
“Frankly, this timeframe is unreasonable and unfair to our members, who spend most of their time on the road.
“This is a legal agreement that our members need to carefully consider and if necessary, seek appropriate legal advice on, to ensure their ongoing access to the terminal is commercially fair and balanced and not disadvantaging them in any way.
“This simply cannot be done in a matter of days which is what our members are being asked to do.
“You wouldn’t expect people to sign a mortgage document, or a business contract or stevedores to sign with shipping lines on matters that could impact their livelihood, in just a few days. It shouldn’t be any different for our members being asked to sign their National Carrier Access Agreement,” Mr O’Hara said.
In a message to carriers, DP World Australia said “it is critical that the renewal is completed as soon as possible to ensure continued access to slot-booking facilities” at its terminals.
Mr O’Hara added: “The real question is, what happens to carriers if they cannot return a signed agreement in the timeframe. Will they be stopped from operating? What effect will this have on the NSW economy?”
That plus the money: truckers are at their limits
Container transport operators have long been concerned with the ‘take it or leave it’ nature of this agreement, with the stevedore having the power to suspend an operator’s account if they don’t agree to the non-negotiable terms.
In light of the DP World Infrastructure Surcharges, and the higher VBS-related fees contained in the new agreement, CTAA wrote to DPWA seeking a change to their payment terms to 30 days.  CTAA also encouraged container transport operators Australia-wide to do likewise individually.
DPWA has apologised for the short lead-time in issuing the Carrier Access Agreement, and has extended the period of time for container transport operators to accept the terms in writing to 14 July.
Disappointingly however, DPWA has issued a blanket rejection via email of the respectful request from CTAA and numerous individual companies seeking an extension of payment terms to 30 days.
CTAA, with shipper and freight forwarder groups, continues to oppose the implementation of the infrastructure surcharges imposed on landside operators by Patrick and DP World.
Along with APSA / FTA and other organisations, CTAA has briefed Ministers’ offices in various states, government officials, the ACCC, and the Small Business Ombudsman, on the impact of the surcharges.
The DP World Surcharges are already causing financial stress for container transport operators due to the cashflow implications.  This stress will be compounded by the implementation of the Patrick Surcharges from Monday, 10 July.

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