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It’s Not All Gloom and Doom.

After a steady diet of stories in the maritime trade press about shipping companies teetering on the verge of insolvency, it was refreshing to read the latest news from Neptune Orient Line (Lloyd’s List, Sept. 2).

The Singapore-based shipowner reported a profit of $42.8 million for the first half of the year, compared to a $369 million loss during the same period a year ago. The major reason for the turnaround is the dramatic cost savings achieved by the company’s APL liner operations. APL claims to have reduced operating costs by $504 million in 2012, and another $240 million in the first half of 2013 through a structured program of efficiency improvements across its fleet of 132 ships. The lion’s share, some 60 percent, came from savings in fuel costs. Another 25 percent resulted from terminal productivity improvements.

Measures implemented by APL in 2012 included more accurate speed measurement and control, vessel monitoring, trim optimization, port ETA management, cold-ironing in port, use of larger vessels to achieve lower costs per container, better scheduling and a crew incentive program to focus the attention of on-board personnel on improving fuel efficiency. This year, the company is focusing on standardizing operating procedures across the fleet, a structured vessel retrofit program to improve technical efficiency, improved procedures for bunkering, careful bunker purchasing and selective replacement of older tonnage with newer more efficient ships.

APL vice president Søren Anderson was quoted as saying this is just the beginning. He insists there is still plenty of room for further cost reductions.

Refreshing news indeed!

The subject of operating efficiency and cost reduction is the fundamental question that will be addressed at the SHIPPINGInsight 2013 Fleet Optimization Conference, which takes place Oct. 23-24 in Stamford, Connecticut. (Full disclosure: my company is co-owner of the conference.) Executives from over 17 major shipping companies will be joined by experts from classification societies, bunkering companies, engine manufacturers, naval architects, shipyards and suppliers of equipment and services, to examine practical solutions to improve ships’ operating efficiency.

You can register online at I urge you to register soon and to book your room at the Stamford Sheraton at It’s likely rooms will be sold out, so you should act quickly to take advantage of the special conference rate.

Three Days Not to be Missed!

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