Reliable container shipping? Who would have thought ...
The world's biggest container carrier steps out of the box and prepares to usher in a new fixed and guaranteed daily service.
Maersk Line boss Eivind Kolding rolled into Hong Kong on Monday for the Asian launch of the carrier’s new Daily Maersk service that will start officially on October 24.
The service offers customers fixed daily cut offs between the Asian ports of Yantian, Shanghai, Ningbo and Tanjung Pelepas and the North Europe ports of Felixstowe, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven.
The promised reliability and guaranteed delivery times is unprecedented in the business, as is a pledge by Maersk to offer US$100 per container if the box is one to three days late, and US$300 per container if it is four or more days late.
At first glance this appears to be a bold move by the Danish carrier, but there really is little risk involved. The sheer size of Maersk Line means 65,000 TEUs of capacity a week will be available for the Daily Maersk service, with 70 ships deployed on the Asia-North Europe trade.
The vessels will be between 8,000 and 15,000 TEUs and when the 18,000 TEU triple-E class container ships start floating into service from 2013, they will also slot into the Asia-Europe trade and the Daily Maersk service.
Maersk makes much of the fixed and guaranteed transportation time as opposed to transit time. The new service promises cargo will be delivered on time, and Maersk said shippers will no longer have to include buffer time in their shipments.
However, the 34-day total transportation time from Shanghai to Rotterdam is essentially the old 28-32-day voyage with additional buffer days built in. Where it differs is that Maersk is prepared to offer the guarantee, something hard to find among other carriers.
It is here that the size of the Maersk operation and network takes the risk out of the equation. It can offer fixed daily sailings from the four ports in Asia and three in Europe participating in the Daily Maersk service (the ships will also call at other ports in Asia and Europe) because it has 70 vessels deployed on the trade.
If a shipper misses one sailing he will have the option of sending his cargo on the following day instead of having to wait a week.
Kolding said there would be no surcharge for the service and freight rates would be negotiated with customers. But he pointed out that the value would come from the cost savings to the line’s customers, and “we would hope to be able to negotiate a better rate”.
It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the Daily Maersk service and whether other carriers either introduce such a service, or use vessel-sharing agreements to set up something similar.