A recent article in the NY Times caught my attention today. Actually, it first caught the attention of one of the readers on my regular blog, so he decided to send me a small note about it. The article tells the story of Danish shipping giant Maersk, who is making its ships go slower and slower, so-called "slow steaming", saving fuel costs and saving CO2 emissions.
By halving its top cruising speed over the last two years, Maersk cut fuel consumption on major routes by as much as 30 percent, greatly reducing costs. But the company also achieved an equal cut in the ships’ emissions of greenhouse gases.“The previous focus has been on ‘What will it cost?’ and ‘Get it to me as fast as possible,’ ” said Soren Stig Nielsen, Maersk’s director of environmental sustainability. “But now there is a third dimension,” he said. “What’s the CO2 footprint?", and in what reads as a commentary on modern life, Maersk advises in its corporate client presentation, “Going at full throttle is economically and ecologically questionable.”
I find this a vey interesting development. While the going green of shipping is the focus of the article, Maersk is perhaps not only saving their own costs, but also saving its customers of the stress of not getting their goods on time. Carriers who think traditionally will naturally challenge the idea of slowing down, and argue that speed is essential to serving their clients what they need when they need it. But is it really? After all, if ships go slow by default there is ample time to catch up an unforeseen delay, something that would not be possible with a tight schedule.
In a corporate presentation Maersk Line states that slow steaming contributes to the reliability of their shipping.
More speed buffer means it is easier to speed up when required, and consequently an even higher schedule reliability.
Maersk is now working with customers, hoping to slow more boats, and where customers will be charged variable rates depending on speed. It remains to be seen how many customers will jump on the bandwagon, but not jump ship, in order to save costs, save the planet, and perhaps save the annoyances and disruptions that used to come with a speedy delivery.
Now that the delivery is a slow delivery, there are perhaps less worries?