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Bearing360 is a new joint venture shipping solution aimed at addressing the issues of commoditised container shipping, the consolidation of shipping lines, and customer demand for greater choice. For Kiwi exporters it’s a potential supply chain game-changer.

The trend to commoditised container shipping, consolidated shipping lines, and customers increasingly looking for choice in shipping were the major triggers for the establishment of the Bearing360 joint venture (JV) shipping solution.

The result of a combined initiative by logistics service provider Netlogix and pulp, paper and packaging manufacturer Oji Fibre Solutions – the goal of Bearing360 from day one is to manage more than 70,000 20-foot equivalent (TEU) of containerised export cargo volumes from New Zealand across 160-plus ports worldwide.

“There is a need within the industry, shared by all exporters and importers, for consistency and predictability at a time where there have been significant changes [in the shipping industry] on a global scale,” explains Bearing360’s GM Dritan Ramohitaj. Adding that the complementary nature of the strengths of Oji and Netlogix were “perfectly positioned” to create the solution.

The JV, launching early this year, aims to create a sustainable shipping service out of New Zealand as, in Ramohitaj’s words, “the prospect of fewer ships and port calls could potentially pose a major challenge for New Zealand exporters”.

Ramohitaj believes Bearing360 will bring multiple benefits to exporters. He says recent short term and spot freight pricing has been volatile, average rates are at historic lows, and service has become somewhat erratic as shipping lines try cut costs to sustain themselves during lull periods.

“As the effects of buyouts and takeovers in the global shipping industry flow on, the cost to ship cargo to and from New Zealand will most likely rise, he believes.

“In anticipation of this we’re going to use our scale to bring some predictability to cargo flows, ensuring that the shipping services we work with can maintain sustainable services in and out of New Zealand.”

The other benefit Bearing360 will provide, particularly for SME exporters, is the ability to access better service levels, he adds. “It is hard to get your foot in the door of global shipping lines without being a large-scale mover of cargo, and Bearing360’s scale will mean our customers get noticed,” he says.

Bearing360 is offering a comprehensive service offering – taking responsibility for the cargo, managing its own warehouses, packing its own containers, coordinating the transport and providing visibility throughout the whole process.

The JV’s break bulk service will be operated separately by Lodestar. Ramohitaj says all this makes them a freight company with “dirt under our fingernails” and gives them a unique proposition. “We can offer customers a mode-neutral solution, particularly around trade lanes,” he explains. “This means a single freight desk to ship in break bulk goods, and/or in containerised form, to suit customer cost and service preference.”

Bearing360 is very willing to look at different types of cargo that require special service, he says. “Across our leadership we have experience in managing the different shipping modes and many different types of cargo. Specifically in the bulk and break bulk sector we work across the forest products industry and can offer solutions for project cargos, and general bulk cargos.”

The online portal provided by Netlogix allows shippers to book cargo on any of the global shopping lines that Bearing360 works with. It is a convenient, singular point of interaction for the customer, says Ramohitaj – providing choices, on-time delivery, “no noise for end customers and predictable, sustainable pricing”.

 

Technology equals efficiency

The Netlogix technology is based on a platform that links otherwise disparate trucking companies – allowing customers to send cargo across the country in the most efficient way.

Netlogix CEO Chin Abeywickrama says the venture will better integrate the global shipping market with local shippers. “Benefits will include increased visibility of cargo and the ability to make one seamless booking across the entire global network.

“What is unique about us as a start-up is that we will immediately have significant scale with cargo already moving to more than 160 ports, touching all major international markets with almost every shipping line, and facilities for almost any kind of cargo.”

Abeywickrama says the new venture is about maintaining choice as much as it is about providing certainty for shipping lines and shippers.

“The last thing the shipping lines or shippers want is for us to double in size and then turn around and make a deal to give all our business to just one shipping line. We are making a commitment with the venture to maintain choice of shipping lines,” he says.

“We recognise that we cannot influence the global market. Therefore we are trying to use our combined scale to do what we can on the local level to maintain relevance and ensure the continued level of choice and frequency of services to [and from] New Zealand.”

Ramohitaj, meantime, says initial industry feedback to Bearing360 has been very positive. They are in it for the (excuse the pun) long-haul and heavily focused on building partnerships with shipping lines.

“Transactional relationships are a thing of the past,” he says.

Story by Glenn Baker, editor of NZBusiness and exportertoday.wpenginepowered.com

Photo: (L-R) Dritan Ramohitaj, Lodestar GM Murray Horne, Chin Abeywickrama.

Glenn Baker

Professional writer/editor with 35-plus years experience - including radio copywriting, various television writing/production roles, and writing for business magazines. I have also co-owned a wholesale food distribution business.

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