Business man and container ship in import,export logistic busine
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Ship agents will need to reinvent themselves as information providers to shipping lines, if they are to survive in a rapidly changing industry.

On the sidelines of last week’s TOC Americas Container Supply Chain event in Cartagena, Matthew Tayler chief executive of Chile-headquartered ship agency Empresas Taylor, told The Loadstar the ship agency business was in danger of extinction unless it radically overhauled itself.

“The traditional ship agency business model is dying. Ship agents have to adapt if they are to survive and that means changing the business model,” he said.

In speech to delegates at TOC he said the ship agent of the future should focus on four key aspects of their relationship with shipping lines.

“We must work as a ‘scaling agent’ – shipping lines are global players, so how do they scale down to understand what a local market needs? Shipping agents can provide the answers to this.

“At the same time, complexity has increased dramatically and agents need to manage this complexity and translate the data exchanges into how they relate to local realities.

“Thirdly, the agent should become a facilitator between demand and supply, and the dynamics behind these are very variable so we believe the agent should be able to come up with lots of answers for the lines.

“And beyond that, we need to produce more information about the market. We are being exposed to hundreds of thousands of data sets, and we need to develop models to understand what lies behind the raw data.”

He said Empresas Taylor had teamed up with a university in Chile to develop a system for predictive logistics and was now establishing a Maritime Logistics Research Centre to support this work.

Mr Taylor told The Loadstar it had opened service centres in Chile and Bolivia to process the increasingly large data sets, and these centres were making “far more money” than his traditional ship agency business of handling vessel calls, and at the beginning of the year the company had hired its first data scientist to support this.

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