TPM 2020 Objective

To create value for beneficial cargo owners — BCOs — including retailers, manufacturers, consumer product companies, traders, energy, agribusiness, and other major shipper organizations through high-quality networking alongside an intensive three-day program addressing key challenges shippers face when relying on container shipping services to support their supply chains.

TPM20 Theme: Are the Scales Tipping Against Shippers?

Container shipping in 2019 is changing in profound ways that will affect every shipper who depends on carriers to move goods internationally. During the entire “Lost Decade” for carriers following the financial crisis, carriers struggled to achieve profitability due to a chronic glut of capacity and market share mindset that vanquished any attempt at pricing discipline. The inevitable result — Hanjin’s disruptive 2016 bankruptcy and the unprecedented wave of mergers and acquisitions that left 80 percent of capacity in the hands of just seven carriers — brought further pain to shippers on top of the slow-steaming and mega-ships with their lengthy port calls. 


But it was only the beginning of the sea change now under way. The consolidation is ushering in not just an era of fewer and larger carriers, and less choice for customers, but also a new chapter for the industry that will make typically heard comments like “carriers can’t get out of their own way” seem quaint. The facts are that carriers, through newfound discipline on capacity, are claiming control over an industry that wouldn’t exist without them but where everyone but them earned profits: forwarders, terminal operators, and shippers who enjoyed a lengthy run of rock-bottom rates and, even worse for carriers, came to see an essential service supporting their ability to do business as a commodity. 


Despite signs of a global slowdown in the summer of 2019 — the consumer is “the last man standing,” and global business sentiment in July remained among the weakest over the past three years, according to the JPMorgan Global PMI™ compiled by IHS Markit — the remaining carriers increasingly are acting to control their own destiny. They are doing that by more effectively controlling capacity through restraint in ship ordering and by more actively managing spot capacity through blanked sailings. This is a fundamental shift that some believe could be permanent. Simply put, this means the year-over-year reductions in rates that many shippers enjoyed for years is likely coming to an end. Instead, shippers are looking at a future of higher rates, a change that will take some getting used to. “If the demand slowdown would have happened a few years earlier, the impact on the container carriers would have been catastrophic. But one of the greatest consolidation events in the container shipping industry is shielding them from that impact,” said Rahul Kapoor, head of research and analytics in the Maritime & Trade business of IHS Markit. “We’re seeing very strong capacity discipline by the carriers and in turn expect the volatility to subside and annual freight rate escalations to cement.”  


Coming at a time when shippers for years have been at the receiving end of cutbacks in customer service, longer terminal dwell times, slow-steaming and other manifestations of a financially strapped industry, this won't be welcome news. Many shippers have expressed a willingness to pay higher rates if it meant higher-quality service. Now they may get that chance. Carriers know all too well about customers’ disappointment and are taking initial steps to set the relationship straight by creating a mutual, rather than one-sided, value proposition. The NYSHEX vision of mutual accountability is being adapted on a wider scale in offerings such as Maersk Spot. Proliferating online booking options by carriers including Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM are beginning to make carrier services resemble the ease of use of any mobile app.  


But in other areas the progress isn’t as easy to discern. Chronic difficulties remain in carrier schedule reliability and flowing containers through major US gateways which seem to remain at permanent risk of backups if too many ships arrive at once. Technology hasn't yet solved this problem, and as a result shippers who increasingly are demanding predictability in end-to-end transit times remain vulnerable to periodic and unanticipated delays that can result in on-time/in-full penalties and other costly consequences. 

Conference Tracks: 

  • Market Outlook and Trends 

  • Keynotes and Ted-Style Talks 

  • Technology and Automation 

  • Exporting From the US 

  • Longshore Labor Risk   

  • Trucking Connections to North American Seaports  

  • Flowing Containers Through Ports  

  • Sector-Specific Analysis 

  • Drayage and Chassis 

  • Cold Chain Logistics 

  • Shipper Case Studies 


Topics to be Explored: 

  • Container Shipping Supply and Demand:
    Are we headed toward a seller's market? 

  • Cargo Delays:
    Is rolling and blanking the new normal for container shipping?  

  • Technology Innovation:
    What solutions are making a difference for BCOs? 

  • Trucking Connections to Ports:
    Merchant vs. carrier haulage and what’s best for your supply chain? 

  • US-China Trade War:
    Adjusting supply chains to sourcing shifts

  • US Longshore Labor:
    How serious is automation as a potentially disruptive element?  

  • Air Cargo and the Shipper:
    Empowering the shipper through transparency 

  • Cold Chain Market Outlook:
    Will IMO2020 put a damper on carrier investment? 

  • Shipper Case Study:
    Making the case for TradeLens 

  • Shipper Case Study:
    Integrating e-commerce and retail fulfillment