Activities and Reduction Strategies of Empty Container Repositioning A Regional and Inter-Regional Perspective to the Liner Shipping Industry in Sweden
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Supply chain management (MPSCM), MSc
Containerised trade has during the last decades increased significantly and today 90% of all international trade is facilitated by maritime transportation. One of the most important issues in the liner shipping industry is empty container repositioning (ECR), which accounts for a substantial part of shipping line’s running costs. This master’s thesis project aims to extend the understanding of how ECR is managed and can be reduced in the liner shipping industry, from a regional and interregional perspective. Key areas of investigation are the activities in the ECR management process, performance measurements, effects of COVID-19, and potential strategies to reduce ECR. Connections between shipping lines’ ECR activities and various potential strategies to reduce ECR are also evaluated to explore possible interrelations. A frame of reference has been created from existing literature in order to develop a theoretical basis for the study. Interviews have been conducted with representatives of eighth of the world’s largest shipping lines, holding positions within container operations in connection to the Port of Gothenburg. The empirical findings have been analysed in relation to the frame of reference in order to recognise any connections or discrepancies and further develop the understanding of the subject. The report presents a model of the ECR management process consisting of five key activities, and explores the use and suitability of different performance measurements connected to ECR. The impact of COVID-19 pandemic to ECR practices is highlighted, and six strategies applicable by shipping lines are investigated in terms of their potential contribution to reduced ECR at a regional and inter-regional level. Results indicate that shipping lines manage ECR through a series of interrelated and iterative activities, repositioning containers to fulfil a container export or import need. Measurements to guide and evaluate the ECR management process are used in moderation as many activities are still performed manually, decreasing the ability to assess ECR performance. Furthermore, the results highlight the complexity of ECR and indicates that the potential strategies contribute to reduced ECR in multiple
Empty Container Repositioning, Liner Shipping Industry, ECR Strategies, ECR Management Process, Regional and Inter-regional Repositioning.