MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has highlighted the importance of continued collaboration with customers during 2021 to help ease the systemic supply chain overload triggered by the global pandemic, notably in the U.S. container market.
Fabio Santucci, President & CEO of MSC USA, stressed the point as he discussed how the landscape of the shipping industry has changed over the past year and how carriers have been impacted in the Journal of Commerce’s new podcast series “Beyond TPM”.
“Constant and effective communication and cooperation with partners, vendors and clients remains key. Understanding one another, planning together, and setting the right expectations goes a long way. This is one of the things that we have to continue doing throughout 2021 as well,” Fabio said.
WORKING CLOSELY WITH OUR CUSTOMERS
The strong pick up in demand for container carrying services in the second half of the year caused many operational issues and imbalances for the industry, with the vast majority of 2020 cargo being moved in just a matter of two quarters.
Commenting on MSC’s handling of the situation, Fabio underscored that ports, railroads, the trucking community and warehouses have all been awash with moving cargo and many companies have been doing a remarkable job under the circumstances.
“We’ve been using all the vessels available in our fleet and more. The charter market is very heated, it’s very difficult today to find a vessel and they are very expensive. This added a lot of costs but nonetheless ships were deployed.” The same strategy has been utilised on the land side with equipment, Fabio went on to say: “All available containers and more have been repaired, put into service, moved around in the most efficient way possible.”
At MSC, diversifying the portfolio of available ports has been key to alleviate some of the pressure from the busy points of Los Angeles / Long Beach and New York, rerouting some cargo through other gateways, adding terminals, while also diversifying inland with the railroads. “The key was to find creative alternatives and do some problem solving along with our customers,” Fabio said.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Going forward, MSC remains optimistic of an eventual return to a more predictable market environment, Fabio added, stopping short of making a precise prediction amid the continued global uncertainty around the pandemic.
“It’s very difficult at this stage to predict when things will go back to normal because this is inevitably tied to getting COVID under control,” he said.