Xu, J. and Notteboom, T. (2013), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Logistics Management, The, Vol. 24 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijlm.2013.30024aaa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: The International Journal of Logistics Management, Volume 24, Issue 1.
Ocean freight logistics plays a significant role in facilitating international trade. Rapid changes in international commerce have brought the importance of ocean freight logistics into the limelight. As in all other sectors of economic activity, ocean freight logistics faces many challenges in the changing global economic environment of modern times. The challenges range from pressures on energy supply to requirements for maintaining maritime safety and security; from increasing environmental concern to tightened competition in the global freight market. Ocean freight logistics has evolved into a value-adding activity in global supply chains challenged to respond adequately to customers’ needs for reliable, sustainable, cost-efficient and resilient maritime shipping solutions. These challenges and their implications deserve close examination, and effective solutions require careful deliberation not only in the academic milieu but also in the public and private shipping and port sectors. The design of proper and prompt responses to this ever-changing economic environment is not an easy task. It calls for the combined efforts of both academics and professionals who endeavour to throw light on various aspects of port and ocean freight studies.
This Special Issue was initiated to facilitate these efforts and to contribute to the ongoing debates on current issues in ocean freight logistics. It was hoped that this issue could provide a platform for researchers from every strategic and operational aspect of shipping, port and ocean freight studies to present critical analyses of the challenges and exchange their innovative approaches and effective solutions to strategic management of the industry in this changing economic environment.
After launching a call for papers in November 2011, a total of 26 high-quality manuscripts were submitted. Following a rigorous double-blind peer review process, seven papers are included in this Special Issue. The papers address various aspects of ocean freight logistics management and touch upon both theoretical and empirical approaches.
The paper “Managing variability in global ocean transportation networks” authored by Alan Harrison and Johannes Fichtinger studies the relationship between time-related variables in global ocean transportation networks (GOTNs) and the shipper's inventory management performance. Through stimulation modelling and an interview survey, the research has found that improvements in variability have different impacts, depending on the source of the variability and the frequency of the shipments. It has also revealed that the highest inventory reduction potential arises from a combination of high reliability and improved frequency.
A set of papers in this Special Issue focuses on strategic considerations to container shipping companies in light of increased volatility in the container freight market, box logistics challenges and rising bunker costs. The paper “Supply-side strategic flexibility capabilities in container liner shipping” authored by Robert Mason and Rawindaran Nair explores the extent to which supply side flexibility tactics are deployed by operators in the container liner shipping sector to restrict supply in a market which is characterized by over-supply or under-demand. Based on a case study of the Far East-Europe trade lane in 2009/2010, it is found that in 2009, directly after the severe imbalance between demand and supply emerged, liner shipping providing companies were only partially able to exploit the flexibility tactics that were available to them. The paper “Assessment of Empty Container Repositioning Policies in Maritime Transport” authored by Jing-Xin Dong, Jingjing Xu, and Dong-Ping Song evaluates and compares the performance of a number of typical empty container repositioning policies which are categorized into two groups: state-feedback control policies and OD-based matrix solutions. Through a comprehensive set of simulation experiments, the study has identified in detail the pros and cons of each repositioning policy from five perspectives; namely, cost performance, computational performance, easiness to prepare data, easiness-to-understand for operators, and easiness-to-apply under dynamic and uncertain demand. The paper “Slow Steaming in Container Liner Shipping: Is There Any Impact on Fuel Surcharge Practices?” authored by Theo Notteboom and Pierre Cariou assesses how container shipping lines have implemented slow steaming practices since 2008 and their impact on pricing policies regarding fuel surcharges. The paper analyses the significance of slow steaming practices in container liner shipping and the impact of slow steaming on fuel consumption and liner service characteristics. While it could be expected that the reduction in vessel speed should be reflected within the fuel surcharges paid by shippers, the empirical results show that slow steaming did not fundamentally change the relation between fuel costs and fuel surcharges imposed on shippers by shipping lines.
The registration of ships remains a key activity in asset management by shipping companies and ship owners. The paper “Towards a new era in ship registration” authored by Jane Jing Haider examines the current ship registration situation and the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on flagging behaviour. The study has found that the clear-cut distinction between national registration and open registration is diminishing and a convergence between the two flag types has become notable. The paper has also revealed that the flagging behaviour varies from nation to nation, and the ship owner's view on choice of flag might be affected by national characteristics.
The last two papers focus on ports/terminals. Ports and their terminals are key turntables in global freight logistics systems, thus their efficiency also affects the competitiveness of global ocean freight logistics. Two key aspects are discussed in this Special Issue: the quality of the service operations at container terminals and improved data flows in ports through port community systems (PCS). The paper “Improving the service operations of container terminals” authored by Wen-Kai K. Hsu explores how container terminal operators can improve the terminals’ service operations. Based on a quality function deployment model and data collected from a container terminal in Kaohsiung Port, the paper found that the top five services operations in need of improvements for the terminal are storage operation in depot, outbound container operation, hazardous container storage, inbound container operation, and T1 arrangement. The paper “PCS interoperability in Europe: a market for PCS operators?” authored by Marie-Laure Baron and Hervé Mathieu addresses the evolution of local PCSs at the conceptual level. It has brought insight into a number of issues in relation to PCSs, including the stages through which the building of a European maritime information network is going, the growing part played by PCS operators, the way competition and the market are organized, and the institutional difficulties.
We hope this Special Issue has served its purpose and brought some insight to the strategic management of ocean freight logistics in the context of an ever-changing global economy; and we hope the readers will benefit from reading these articles and further research may be inspired.
Jingjing Xu and Theo Notteboom
We would like to thank all the authors who submitted papers to this Special Issue, and the following people who gave their valuable time to provide us with detailed reviews on submitted papers (in alphabetical order):