Liner majors aim to set digital standards

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

18 April 2019


A quartet of leading container line operator comprising Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express have established a new organisation aimed at creating common information technology standards to make the industry more efficient for both customers and shipping lines.

After gaining regulatory approval from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) last month, the four partners officially established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) on 10 April in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The plan to create a neutral, non-profit association for ocean carriers was first announced in November 2018. The association, focusing on driving standardisation, digitalisation and interoperability in container shipping, is now starting operations with a leadership team made up of senior industry figures, including Thomas Bagge, who is appointed CEO.

“For the first time in twenty years, the container shipping industry has come together with a common goal to move the industry into the digital era. With the regulatory approval in place, we look forward for the association to take up work and to begin to collaborate with multiple stakeholders from the entire value chain,” said André Simha, Chief Information Officer of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DCSA.

To create value quickly and to overcome some of the biggest pain-points in the industry, one of the first projects is focusing on standards to overcome the lack of a common foundation for technical interfaces and data. The association is also creating an industry blueprint for processes, which will be another significant part of the future of shipping.

The work undertaken will be for the benefit of the entire industry, as all standards will be openly published and available free of charge to interested external parties.

The location of the association’s headquarters in Amsterdam will not favour any of the large shipping companies but at the same time, it provides proximity to shipping infrastructure and ease of access, as well as an attractive location for talented employees.

“DCSA is working for the benefit of the entire container shipping industry, so it was important for us that the headquarters is located on neutral grounds, with no specific stakeholders or companies being favoured,” said Simha.

DCSA said it is in discussions with multiple other container shipping lines around the globe who are interested in joining. Preparations for two more companies to join are already in process.