The SeaConAZ project - Exploring the potential for making sea containers go all the way (A-Z) through the supply chain
A lot of the manufactures sold by European retailers have their origin in China, and are transported in containers to Europe. The typical way this is done is that each manufacturer in China sends full containers to the European distribution point, where cargo is crossdocked into trailers or units destined for the final retailing point in European countries. After cross-docking much of this cargo is lost for the maritime transport business. If we could combine cargo from several Chinese manufacturers at a cross-docking facility in China - to prepare full containerloads for each retailing point in Europe, then the likelihood of those shipments being made by ships also on the last leg will increase. This will in turn relieve congested European road networks and reduce emissions from freight transport. The SeaConAZ project will explore the potential for such solutions by pooling highly skilled academic institutions both at the European side and in China to investigate how such a solution could materialize to a larger extent in the future. A number of interviews with actors both on the Chinese and European side of the supply chain has been conducted. A preliminary finding is that this supply chain design seems to suit markets which are relatively thin and remote. The main focus is therefore put on shipments which are smaller than full continerloads, destined for countries like Norway, Sweden and Ireland. The market potential for this kind of solution is highly affected by the level of the Asia to Europe container rates. For a period of time these have been extremely low, effectively weakening the incentives for cargo consolidation. There are, however, signs of a firming market, which would enhance the potential for solutions involving upstream cargo consolidation activities.