Swedish shippers’ strategies for coping with slow-steaming in deep sea container shipping
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2018
When container shipping lines experience over-capacity and high fuel costs, they typically respond by decreasing sailing speeds and, consequently, increasing transport time. Most of the literature on this phenomenon, often referred to as slow-steaming, takes the perspective of the shipping lines addressing technical, operational and financial effects, or a society perspective focusing on lower emissions and energy use. Few studies investigate the effects on the demand side of the market for container liner shipping. Hence, the aim of this study is to elaborate on the logistics consequences of slow-steaming, particularly the strategies that Swedish shippers purchasing deep sea container transport services employ to mitigate the effects of slow-steaming. Workshops and semi-structured interviews revealed that shippers felt they had little or no impact on sailing schedules and were more or less subject to container shipping lines’ decisions. The effects of slow-steaming were obviously most severe for firms with complex supply chains, where intermediate products are sent back and forth between production stages on different continents. The shippers developed a set of strategies to cope with the low punctuality of containerised shipping, and these were categorised in the domains of transfer-the-problem, transport, sourcing and distribution, logistics and manufacturing, and product design. All firms applied changes in the transport domain, although the lack of service segmentation limited the effects of the strategy. Most measures were applied by two firms, whereas only one firm changed the product design.
Container liner shipping