Five liner giants MSC, A.P. Moller – Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, and Ocean Network Express plan to set up an association aimed at digitalisation, standardisation and interoperability in the container shipping industry.

The new association is expected to begin operations early next year.

The IT executives from these companies are discussing common information technology standards, which would openly available and free of charge for all stakeholders of the wider container shipping industry.

“It’s in the customers’ and all stakeholders’ best interest, if container shipping companies operate with a common set of information technology standards,” says André Simha, CIO of MSC and spokesperson of the group.

“We are striving for less red tape and better transparency. The timing is right, as emerging technologies create new customer friendly opportunities. Together, we gain traction in delivering technological breakthroughs and services to our customers compared to working in our own closed silos.”

The carriers believe there is a need for a neutral and non-profit body for ocean carriers that would ensure inter-operability through standardization.

“Digital is key for A.P. Moller – Maersk in delivering on our strategy to become an integrated container logistics company that offers simple, end-to-end services with seamless customer experience. A joint set of technical standards will ensure interoperability and enable all parties to concentrate on value adding differentiation as we move the container shipping industry towards further digitalization,” says Adam Banks, Chief Technology & Information Officer, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

“Ocean Network Express sees a wave of innovation technology development in shipping and logistics industry over the recent years which can bring good opportunity to the whole industry for digital transformation. But, at the same time, we’re a little bit cautious about adopting new technology by individual company since there is no common standard in the market which may be ending up with re-integrating work among all stakeholders in the supply chain,” Noriaki Yamaga, Managing Director, Corporate & Innovation, Ocean Network Express.

” With this mind, we feel it would be necessary to do some discussion and collaboration on the area of new technology and innovation to establish common IT standard and governance for the industry to streamline and digitize shipping process in a modern way.”

As informed, the association has no intent of developing or operating any digital platform, and welcomes new members to join. Furthermore, the liner companies said that the association would not discuss any commercial or operational matters.