Long awaited, finally the first, post-COVID and large scale logistics event in Europe again, the SITL in Paris, Porte de Versailles. The fair focuses on the french logistics market, similar like the Multimodal in Birmingham does for the UK market, but certainly larger in scale with usually up to 30,000 visitors every year.
While its not yet sure they will have reached that number again, 550 exhibitors from all fields of logistics found their way into Pavillion 1 on Monday and the queue outside the venue stretched almost to outside Paris city limits. Attendance of the event requires the french health pass and in fact controls slow down the entry bit, but once through, its up to a smooth start and definitely a well organised event. Masks remain obligatory on the fair, but the discipline works fine.
Having been able to fix most individual meetings around meals and not having an own stand at the fair, allowed the time to roam the exhibition and attend several of the exciting sessions in the broad conference programme. No carrier showing up with an own stand this time, it seems hiding from frustrated clients and vendors is the strategy of our time time. And also apart from that, maritime is certainly a bit under represented, while other parts of the supply chain are more prominent.
However credit to the exception of Claus Ellemann-Jensen, MD of Hapag Lloyd France for showing up and attending a panel on the new fundamentals of the liner industry after the sanitary crisis and the Ever Given fiasco. He is joined by Yves Antoine from Arkema, Jérôme de Ricqlès of Geodis’ digital marketplace Upply, Kris Danaradjou from HAROPA ports and Arnaud Zani from DSV. The last one might surprise a bit given that its a K&N sponsored panel, however so many crazy things happen in our industry recently, thus we shall just take it as the new normal. The gentlemen on the panel give an overview of what has happened are where they think that things are heading, starting with Monsieur de Ricqlès who elaborates how the carriers defensive strategy after the COVID outbreak and the initiated blank sailings have started a perfect storm for the industry, putting them into a position to rule the market. Hapag is next and Monsieur Ellemann-Jensen certainly in the hot chair for this session, starting to outline the 5 years before of low to no profitability, financial distress but also the outlook of record results for 2021. Capital that will certainly be reinvested in assets, not only containers, where Hapag grew its fleet by 16% already now, but also in new vessels. However, those alone will not solve the problem, the congestion and infrastructure impact on supply and the continued rising demand (they see global volumes grow 6-7% this year) will keep stress on the system. Talking to clients, employing better digital systems, finding solutions is essential. Choosing customers thereby being a key challenge, as space is limited, with whom not to work, is often the main question. They are aiming for long-term, 2-3 year contracts with clients, need to facilitate better forecasting through stronger commitments. He has no easy solutions and things will no doubt remain difficult for the next 6 months at least. Monsieur Zani from DSV is complementing that picture with a few more examples, also outlining that one solution they are offering to clients being more consolidation of cargo, making use of capacity inside the boxes and increasing efficiency with existing resources. Congestion remains one key issue from his view and the fight for equipment in some areas is tough. Later in the discussion, he is outlining that road and rail from China are alternative solutions but capacity is limited and congestion at the polish border also massive at this stage. Monsieur Antoine from ARKEMA adds more from the shipper perspective, how the day to day has become very operational, focused on finding solutions. In particular their focus on chemical products with 50% of the cargo being dangerous goods, adding an additional complexity to get shipped in the current situation. Forwarders have become an important channel for them too, as some carriers are not holding their commitments. Monsieur Danaradjou of Haropa outlines how the flexibility of ports has helped so far to keep things from being even worse. The concentration of volumes with larger ships and increased amounts of moves per vessel playing a role. The economy is growing well, trade volumes are growing with it and HAROPA has reached already the volume levels of 2018 and 2019 again. Further a significant amount of additional vessel calls and extra services have been handled by Haropa ports this year already. Looking forward on how long things will take until it normalises, leaves the audience with guesstimates of 6-12 months, while Monsieur Ricqlès outlines it nicely, the maritime supply chain needs to „metronomiser“ (things have to come back in balance), with vessels operating on a schedule and things moving out of exception mode.
Another exciting session was certainly the speech by French minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebarri, who started with a big thank you to the industry, without which the pandemic would not have been possible to overcome, which did not only transport our goods and supplied the nation also in that time, but have orchestrated a Pharma supply chain, that accomplished a fast vaccination effort across the country. He iterated that going forward, logistics will continue to play a vital role, transporting the economic growth, but also being an essential part in efforts towards carbon neutrality. He touched on important innovations in the last mile, that he seen on the fair already and reiterated the focus on the transport industry during the upcoming EU presidency of France from January 2021. Where a focus will be on alternative fuels and doubling rail traffic until 2030.
Further had the chance to briefly pop in a session on „What employees want“ in the talent space area of the exhibition, where Caroline Guillotin showed how HR is changing from „resources humaines“ to „richeness humaines“. And XPO’s last mile venture Urby, made an interesting presentation of how they see the future of the last mile developing.
The second day in Paris, with a focus on #startups presented by SprintProject and quite some interesting ones presenting to an impressive jury with some great moderation… for example: GEOPALLET HUBLEX Delivery Academy Magma Technology Welco !
Further a very interesting exciting presentation on Black Swans and visibility by Vincent Gelernter of Roquette and Floriane Crickx of project44 with the customer in this case doing a great job selling the solution.
Couple with all the exciting side meetings over the 3 days, certainly a successful event and we are looking forward to be there again in April 2022!
OceanX is a non – exclusive global network of leading ocean freight providers and NVOCCs dedicated to delivering bespoke innovative solutions, in particular on FCL services, LCL consolidation, dangerous goods and chemical logistics, temperature control, as well as project cargo handling.