The Shipper's Perspective on Slow Steaming - Study of Six Swedish Companies
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019
Trans-ocean liner shipping companies adopt slow steaming during periods when the market is characterised by low demand, high fuel prices, low freight rates and overcapacity. The most recent instance in which this occurred was the period following the 2008/2009 global financial crises, and the speeds have not yet rebounded to the pre-crisis levels. Most of the existing research regarding slow steaming takes environmental, economic and maritime engineering perspectives, meaning that the phenomenon is studied from the viewpoint of ship owners. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of slow steaming from the shipper's perspective. The study is based on an exploratory, qualitative multiple case study. Six global companies positioned in Sweden have been studied and the data from the case companies have been collected through face-to-face interviews. The findings of the interviews have been summarised, presented and discussed at a workshop with all case companies’ representatives. The results of the study show that the shippers were first affected by slow steaming in 2008 and 2009 simply through the increased sailing times which affected their supply chains. Reliability has been regarded as more important than the sailing time itself, but improvement in reliability has not been observed so far. Furthermore, the case companies perceived that if the sea transport option is unreliable, air and rail are considered as substitute supply chains and this also affects the last mile mode choice. Only one shipper acknowledged the importance and existence of environmental benefits. Increased reliability or cost reduction as benefits were not recognised by the case companies.