Peter Keller appears to be one of those people who believe in turning lemons into lemonade. The president of ocean carrier NYK Line (NA) Inc. told the Denver Transportation Club that despite the current downturn in shipping volumes (and rates), international intermodal transportation has a bright future—if carriers and service providers use the global recession as an occasion to rethink the way they do business.
"An economic depression is the time to review our transportation processes; to remove old, marginally productive assets; and to consider how we can add more value to the international supply chain by reducing costs and increasing efficiencies," said Keller, who serves on the board of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. He also called on carriers to re-evaluate their service models and focus on longterm trends rather than solely on immediate problems.
When the global economy revives, international trade will still be critically important. But the transportation landscape won't necessarily look the same as it does now, Keller warned. The Panama Canal expansion, scheduled for completion in 2014, will affect demand for shipping services, he predicted. Furthermore, today's economic upheaval may well cause populations to relocate as industries evolve, consumer demand picks up, employment returns, and freight begins to flow again. If the transportation industry prepares wisely for continued globalization and is receptive to change, it undoubtedly will prosper in the long run, he concluded.