Andre Simha

A container shipping group to help coordinate the industry’s rapid digitisation has formally launched after a green light from the US Federal Maritime Commission.

MSC, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express (ONE) officially established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) last week in Amsterdam, with Maersk’s Thomas Bagge named chief executive and MSC’s Andre Simha (pictured above) chairman.

Mr Simha, who is chief information officer of MSC, said the main aim of DGSA was to establish common information technology standards to make the industry more efficient for both customers and shipping lines.

“For the first time in twenty years, the container shipping industry has a common goal to move the industry into the digital era. With regulatory approval in place, we look forward to the association beginning to collaborate with multiple stakeholders from the entire value chain,” he said.

In a Q&A session with JOC technology editor Eric Johnson at last month’s TPM conference in Long Beach, Mr Simha stressed that the development of common technological standards would allow container lines to compete on service levels

““There are so many issues to address in container shipping that technology itself will not be a competitive advantage,” he said. “Look at the airline industry – airlines do not compete on online booking, they compete on service levels, networks and prices.”

Today, he said the decision to locate the DCSA HQ in Amsterdam “reflected the neutrality” of the organisation, which would “not favour any of the large shipping companies”.

He added: “At the same time, it provides proximity to shipping infrastructure and ease of access, as well as being an attractive location for talented employees”.

MSC added that two more carries were in the process of joining DCSA, although at TPM Mr Simha had insisted that the partners wanted to keep the number of participants to a minimum.

“Everybody’s input is welcome, but we need to keep the number of decision-makers to a manageable size; if we can simplify how we communicate with our supply chain partners, then that will benefit everybody,” he said.

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