Global Shipping Trends 2016

Global Shipping Trends 2016

The Shipping industry is an industry that has been around for centuries and has certainly changed and progressed with the times and continues to change and progress today. Currently, there are three primary areas that are impacting the global shipping industry. Those three areas are technology, environmental regulations, and the future of the shipping workforce.



In the past 10-15 years, technology has advanced rapidly and these advancements have impacted everyone’s life and in every area of life. The shipping industry is no different. While in years’ past, the shipping industry has been criticized for being slow to adopt changes, they’ve not been slow when it comes to embracing technology.

Technology has truly revolutionized how things are done in the industry from the automation of ships to the development of more efficient hulls and propulsion systems to name a few. Technology has also changed how shipping businesses trade with their clients. For example, small and medium sized businesses have more shipping options available to them and can better track their shipments to and from their customers and suppliers. Overall, the changes in technology have enabled the shipping industry to become even more efficient.


Environmental regulations

Increased environmental regulations have been one of the driving forces behind the technological advances in the shipping industry particularly when it comes to changes in engine technologies, exhaust treatment and the fuels used by shipping companies. The change in materials used to build ships has introduced a new set of problems. In years past, ships were built from wood and other organic materials. Now they’re built with steel and other synthetic materials that are not bio-degradable and this has prompted greater regulations in recycling, reuse and waste management. For example, containers that are used for shipping cargo are now being refurbished and recycled into storage units and in some cases, used as temporary offices or school rooms. Marine debris is another serious issue facing the industry as we’ve seen in more recent years with oil spills that impact marine life. Ironically, advancements in the industry have raised environmental concerns thus increasing regulations and these regulations have necessitated some of the technological advancements within the industry.


Changes in the workforce

Another area that is changing is the maritime workforce itself. Not only are the demographics of the workforce changing, but the skill level is changing as well. A maritime compensation study in 2011 revealed that 60% of maritime workers were over the age of 50 and that less than 1% were under the age of 25. This is a workforce that is aging and will see the retirement of many in the next decade, however, there is concern that not enough young people are entering this field. A shrinking workforce along with the need for more skilled workers in this industry has prompted San Jacinto College in Texas to purchase 13 waterfront acres and establish amaritime vessel operation training program. This is one of many programs across the nation that offers an excellent maritime program. Additionally, not only do these colleges offer programs for those entering the field, but there are continuing and professional development courses available for current professionals who need to take specific courses of study in order to advance their careers.

The changes that the global shipping industry has experienced in recent years has really propelled it to a new level of significance in the global market. It is an industry that literally connects the world through its ports and is now becoming an industry that is requiring a highly trained and skilled workforce.


Are these trends impacting the Air Cargo industry?

Because we are part of the larger global shipping industry, we make a point to keep an eye on these and any other trends that impact the shipping industry as a whole. However, as Air Cargo shippers we also are impacted by other factors as well. In a recent article in Logistics Management a number of issues were discussed among industry leaders regarding air cargo shipping, however, the two that piqued our interest the most were security and regulatory issues.



In this post 9-11 world in which we live, security is an on-going concern. Although freight forwarders are not employees of the airlines, or airport for that matter, but as users of the air system, we are still subject to the same security measures. All air-cargo carriers should have procedures in place to prevent illicit cargo from getting on their aircraft. This is a particular concern for larger air-cargo companies. Here at Alaska Air Forwarding, we have the advantage of being a smaller carrier and are therefore able to closely monitor the cargo that we are transporting.


Regulatory Issues

One of the more significant regulatory initiatives is a move towards submission of advanced data before loading the aircraft for security targeting purposes. It is expected, later this year, that a new rule will be implemented to the current Air Cargo Advanced Screening program that will allow for additional screenings if needed. The biggest concern with regulatory issues is that they don’t over-extend, in an effort to provide greater security, that ends up not increasing security but simply hampering the flow of air commerce.

Here at Alaska Air Forwarding, our size allows us to be very nimble when it comes to changes in our industry and this allows us to continue providing safe, efficient and fast service to our customers.

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