To address a vital need in global trade, A.P. Moller – Maersk is developing an integrated cold chain offering that will reduce food waste, minimise complexity for customers and put the business in an even stronger position to tap into the high-growth market for perishable goods.
Whether you are transporting fruits, fish or medicine, getting delicate, temperature-sensitive goods to market is a long, complicated and often wasteful journey.
Importing and exporting fresh and frozen products involves multiple players with very diverse offerings. Global cold chains are so fragmented that companies, big and small, experience frustrating inefficiencies in the physical movement of goods. The coordination efforts are complex with many handovers and little transparency that ultimately lead to waste of both time and some of the goods being transported.
Maersk’s response to these customer challenges is the development of an integrated cold chain logistics offering. The ambition is to close major gaps in the supply chain and connect it through integrated end-to-end cold chain solutions that reduce cost and waste, explained Katharina Poehlmann, Global Head of Cold Chain Logistics at Maersk:
“We are creating a one-stop shop that minimiszes the number of parties our customers need to deal with and delivers a consistent, high-quality value proposition and customer experience,” she said.
Building on leading position
Moving one in four refrigerated containers – commonly known as ‘reefers’ – globally, Maersk is building its cold chain offering from a position of strength. Despite a modest short-term outlook for trade growth, Maersk expects global reefer volumes to continue to significantly outgrow the dry container market in the coming years. As this projection only covers the oceanside of the cold chain, the total market represents a big opportunity for not only the Ocean business but also Logistics & Services.
“The potential in cold chain logistics really embodies what the global integrator strategy is all about. As one service provider, we can deliver differentiating value to the customers and enable them to grow their businesses,” explained Poehlmann.
To this end, experts across Maersk are coming together to enable a truly integrated offering.
To name a few, APM Terminals is accelerating cargo flows and contributing to more visibility with intelligent use of data. Hamburg Süd and Sealand have extensive reefer insights, strong customer relationships and fast ocean connections on key reefer trade routes which allow tailormade offerings. Inland Services, an offering originating from APM Terminals and going to market under the Maersk brand as of August 2019, has built several cold stores and developed local, integrated customer solutions, which are being integrated into the end-to-end proposition.
In addition, Maersk’s assets make the value proposition stand out in the market, for instance with the ability to prioritise equipment and slots on the vessels, and to provide cold storage at critical points of customers’ supply chains.
The potential in cold chain logistics really embodies what the global integrator strategy is all about. As one service provider, we can deliver differentiating value to the customers and enable them to grow their businesses.
Katharina Poehlmann Global Head of Cold Chain Logistics at Maersk
Making cold chains unbreakable
In many markets, cold storage providers operate very locally. Customers therefore must engage with several providers across geographies and the many handovers cause breaks in the cold chain.
To close this gap in these markets, Maersk is investing in more and better storage options that will establish unbroken, connected cold chains from farm to supermarket. These facilities enable customers to store the produce closer to consumers, provide access to special capabilities such as blast freezing, boxing, repacking and labelling, and create the ability to balance supply and demand over time.
Today, Maersk operates cold stores in several regions and the footprint is growing with numerous development projects ongoing across the globe.
“While our immediate focus is on regions that need quality storage here and now, our long-term ambition is to have a global footprint that can meet customers’ need for high quality capacity on a global scale,” added Poehlmann.
The growth plan is being realised through a mix of acquisitions, greenfield investments and expansion of existing facilities. The next cold store to join Maersk’s network in 2020 is located in St. Petersburg, Russia. 40% of the 23,700 square meter facility will be dedicated to Fyffes, Europe’s leading banana importer and a Maersk customer, while the remaining capacity will help meet the high demands for storing and distribution of fish, meat, as well as fruit and vegetables across Russia.
Seamless cold chain keeps citrus fresh across continents
For the past seasons, Moroccan shippers have faced major challenges in managing the supply chain when exporting fresh produce to Russia. Particularly, heavy penalty charges and significant delays from additional customs inspections have jeopardised reliability, quality and ultimately the selling price of the cargo.
Maersk has designed an integrated Cold Chain Management solution to address these customer pains in several ways.
“We are taking responsibility for a seamless execution of all logistics services end to end, such as Intermodal, Ocean, Customs House Brokerage, Phytosanitary and Cold Storage, thus ensuring that the cargo arrives on time and in perfect condition,” saidys Katharina Poehlmann.
With increased visibility, the solution is enabling customers to not only deliver their cargo fresh at the final destination in Russia but also to control and make informed decisions during the journey to achieve the best possible market price – while preventing food loss.
Technology increases transparency
The integrated cold chain offering is based on the latest digital innovations and reefer technology that are enabling increased transparency for customers, both inside and outside the container.
One of the technologies is Remote Container Management (RCM) that creates end-to-end visibility of the conditions inside the box. Since the launch in 2017, more than 3,600 companies have signed up for RCM technology and 97% of Maersk’s combined pool of more than 380,000 refrigerated containers (reefers) are supported by the technology.
With the introduction of a virtual assistant, Captain Peter, in late 2019, customer experience will become even better. The AI-enabled avatar will assist customers along the cargo journey by keeping an eye on the container’s temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels.
Wiskerke Onions has been one of the key customers involved in the development of Captain Peter. The increased visibility makes a business-critical difference to the Dutch onion exporter:
“I choose Maersk and Captain Peter over others because I can see what is happening with my cargo. It takes months to grow onions and they can’t be easily replaced if they spoil during transport. The full visibility on the conditions in the container is an additional “insurance” that our cargo will make it to its destination in perfect condition,” said Chayenne Wiskerke, CEO of Wiskerke Onions.
Cargo visibility is also improving outside the container.
For instance, a newly formed partnership with JDA on advanced warehouse management systems brings full visibility to cold storage facilities. The data transparency allows customers to sharpen their operations by improving processes and lowering inventory costs.
Reefer manufacturing in focus
In 2019, Maersk Container Industry decided to focus the business on its reefer manufacturing and cold chain technology. The launch of Sekstant, a reefer digitisation service, will further enhance transparency on container conditions for customers, offering realtime data, monitoring and reporting systems, and seamless fleet management from anywhere in the world.
(Image courtesy of A.P. Moller – Maersk)