Fast-ship service could be the answer to e-commerce boom
IDEAS are floating around of having 200 TEU-300 TEU box ships sailing at 40 knots on short-haul intra-Asia trade to meet the logistics demand spurred by fast-growing online shopping, reports UK’s Lloyd’s List.
Market players are weighing this as a way to serve shortsea routes in Asia, where online shopping has become particularly prevalent, according to Toll managing director Thomas Knudsen.
He said the company would be interested to engage if the fast-ship products were brought to market. The new solution is seen as capable of providing a cheaper and less carbon-intensive alternative to airfreight.
Toll, an Australian freight forwarder and logistics company keen to further grow the market on the upper part of the world, has witnessed how the rise of e-commerce has changed the logistics landscape in the region.
Expedited delivery time driven by consumer expectations has led to a growth spurt in fulfilment infrastructure including warehouses, both regionally and locally. The development has also given rise to cross-border trucking and more traditional containerised trade.
However, logistics service providers and users are also looking for effective alternatives to increase flexibility.
“We’ve been involved in looking at a couple of projects where people are talking about 200-300 TEU ships sailing at 40 knots, being able to compete in the relatively short lane,” Mr Knudsen said.
A typical shipping route of about 1,000 nautical miles long between countries – such as China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand – can be a day trip for these speedy boats.
Provided there is efficient support from ports and the landside facilities, the system alongside cross-border trucking could then add an attractive option to the current solutions, being cheaper and at the same less carbon-intensive when compared to air freights, he added.
“I’m really looking to whether we will see some new products emerging over the next two or three years, which will be fast ships paddling back and forth between ports. No one has done that yet, but we would be interested to support if those products were brought to the market,”Mr Knudsen said.
Acquired by Japan Post in 2015, Toll today draws about 40 per cent of its revenue from Asia, on which it relies for future growth underpinned by the robust prospects for e-commerce.
“We really want to see our Asia volume grow dramatically over the next three years,” said Mr Knudsen, adding that China, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and India were the most five promising markets.