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What future possibilities can digitalisation bring to the container shipping industry?

As the entire world goes digital, the shipping industry just cannot wait. I met up with Heikki Aulanko, the Global Operations Manager at Greencarrier Liner Agency, to have a chat about digitalisation and data standardisation in the container shipping industry and what future possibilities it may bring.

Hi Heikki, you are the Global Operations Manager for Greencarrier Liner Agency in Finland. Please, describe your role and experience?
I have a master’s degree in Logistics and have been working at Greencarrier Liner Agency for more than 10 years, gaining experience in import, export, sales, and logistics. My role as Global Operations Manager is to maintain and develop our quote-to-invoice process for the whole division. Basically, my goal is to improve internal and external efficiency and user satisfaction. This includes project and change management, detecting the needs from the field and transforming them to solutions, and EDI management (Electronic Data Interchange). At the moment, I aim to ease up the life of our sales and customer service, so they can make data-driven decisions and serve our customers better.

Digitalisation, automation, and new technologies are transforming the shipping industry. What is the biggest trend right now?
This is a tricky one, and I think the answer depends on who you are asking. At the moment, I am looking into what kind of effect the DCSA (Digital Container Shipping Association) will bring to the shipping industry through data standardisation. They have proven to be very successful in their journey so far, and this could potentially generate new digital solutions in container shipping. Others are carriers’ own marketplaces, where I see a lot of potentials to reduce the no-show bookings and thereby help in the overbooking problem and digital documentation chains where the industry would move away from using physical documents and start using i-B/Ls (electronic Bill of Lading) instead. Another area where I would like to see improvements would be the transparency of the supply chain.

Container shipping

What potential do digitalisation and data standardisation bring to the shipping industry in general, and to customers, in particular?
As digitalisation moves ahead, we start noticing that the time we used to use to key in data into the system can be spent serving customers and perhaps detecting problems before they actually occur. This is beneficial for everyone in the supply chain. We just need to be ready for the digital change and develop our competence constantly.

Why is going digital so important in the shipping industry, and do you have any tips for how customers should prepare?
As the entire world around us goes digital, the shipping industry just cannot wait. It can improve efficiency and quality and release time for companies to solve problems before they actually occur rather than be reactive. Customers also need to follow what is going on in the market, and, of course, everyone should focus on their competitive edge. But it is important not to forget the possibilities digitalisation can bring in terms of excellent sales opportunities and improved customer service in the future.

You are responsible for employees in both Sweden and Finland. What is it like to lead from a distance during a pandemic?
The pandemic didn’t influence our way of working that much as we already had quite good knowledge and experience working remotely. The team has always had a positive attitude towards changes and new things. Of course, it is harder to read signals when you have to rely entirely upon video meetings. But I think it is just a matter of how one organises meetings and processes. Even though this is perfectly fine, I feel that exchanging thoughts face to face would bring significant value to us. I am looking forward to combining working remotely with meeting my colleagues in real life at the office.
Source: Greencarrier Liner Agency

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