I’ve always loved aviation.

Hundreds of hours on Flight Simulator (and many, but considerably less piloting actual aircraft), aviation has always had a special place in my heart.

So, naturally I jumped at the opportunity to join Henk Mulder, Head of Digital Cargo at IATA (International Air Transport Association) and self-proclaimed airline geek, for a fireside chat at Cargo’s Digital Future at Smart Maritime Network Athens conference.

Henk has been a driving force in the digitalisation of airfreight, working hard to develop industry-wide standards and improve the data flow between stakeholders.

As the Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at…

I learn a lot from customers.

Talking to shippers, exporters and cargo owners always reminds me of what they want (and what they need).

Good rates, great customer service and schedule reliability? Sure, but there’s one thing I hear more than any other — predictability.

Or as a Brazilian melon exporter told me recently: “We know there might be delays because so many things can happen. The key is that we’re notified as soon as possible. Then we can tell the importer to sell the fruits in the right order.”

In other words, customers want the right information at the…

The bill of lading (BL) is the single most important document in international shipping.

Yet in a world of emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, robotics, voice-controlled assistants, IoT and autonomous vehicles, it’s incredible to think that the most important document in all international shipping is still a physical paper document.

This paper is couriered by hand across the globe, inspected by some, signed by others, and then given to the recipient, which they then must show in order to collect their goods.

If the document is lost or has any mistakes, the original must be destroyed and a new one…

After much encouragement over the years, I decided now was the time to share a little more about my other passions.

Photo credit: Magali Girardin

Books on the shelf, trophies in the cabinet, and paintings on the wall — they all tell a story.

In the past year, business has moved from the boardroom to the spare room, and video calls have reminded us that everyone has passions outside of work.

It’s easy to forget in regular face-to-face meetings, but video calls have shown us a little more of the person behind the persona.

Whether you build model trains, run marathons, or collect wine; watch birds, bake cakes, or ride bikes, these passions define you almost as much as your work does. …

By Chokniti Khongchum via Shutterstock

There’s no denying it — the world has changed.

In the past year, the global pandemic has disrupted industries, economies, and ways of working. Every industry has encountered challenges adapting to these changes — the shipping industry included.

Disruptions expose issues; the lack of global supply chain visibility, the limitations of physical documentation, and the need to be flexible and agile.

These challenges aren’t new, but now they’ve become a priority.

The pandemic has shown us why they need to be solved (and left little alternative).

Lockdowns forced flexible, remote-working arrangements.
Travel restrictions replaced overseas trips with video calls. …

Two 20ft dry containers caught mid-air. Containers have already become smart, now it’s the ports’ turn.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at the Smart Ports: Piers of the Future conference. No flights, no hotels, no long dinners. No, this conference was completely virtual.

Speakers delivered their keynotes from screens suspended over a TV-level production set. Discussion panels were moderated on-set by Jordi Espin, Maritime Transport Policy Manager at European Shipper’s Council (ESC); it was almost like an actual conference.

It was insightful, impressive, and symbolic of the industry trend toward digitalisation.

But it also surfaced a new challenge… what do we do with all the data?

New technology — like Smart Ports —…

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Digital transformation isn’t easy.

Instead of incremental improvements, we’re looking to reimagine how we operate. To transform data, processes and platforms to unlock better communication, collaboration, and outcomes, end to end.

Working on big goals means we’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. But if we know ahead of time what we’re up against, we can do our best to avoid them.

We can learn from others to see what’s worked (and what hasn’t), and most…

In my last post, I reflected on my 33 year career in shipping. It was nostalgic to see how far we’ve come, and how much has changed (yes, including my hair… thank you for all the comments!)

Looking at the past has a way of getting you thinking of the future; wondering what kind of stories might be told 33 years from now.

What will the future of the industry look like?
What technological changes will have been made by then?
More importantly, who will be responsible for those changes?

While we’ve worked hard to shape the direction of the industry so…

MSC IT meeting in Athens in 2001. From left to right: Fabio Catassi (grey shirt), myself (burgundy), Roberto Musumeci (blue) and Rumen Lilov (beige).

In 1986, I walked into MSC’s Geneva headquarters for the first time.

Briefcase in hand, hair down to my shoulders, I grabbed a coffee with my boss and then settled in to work. I had joined as a consultant to develop a software solution for MSC to file rates with the US Federal Maritime Commission.

It was supposed to be a short-term engagement. Now, 33 years later, I’m still there.

And what a journey it’s been. …

We’re living in a digital world. From booking a flight, to ordering a meal, and shopping for just about anything, you can do it all from your laptop or phone. Quick, easy, and convenient, it’s become a norm that, quite frankly, we’d find it hard to do without.

But what is the price of this convenience?

In 1980, when I started my career, business was mostly done in person. Business lunches, frequent phone calls, and personal relationships were essential. …

Andre Simha

Husband, father, bass player, shoeaholic. CDIO at @MSCCargo and chairman of DCSA. I mostly tweet about the digitalisation of container shipping!

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