Global Logistics Outlook: 2018

Shipping Structure

Mike Greco, Senior Vice President of Global Logistics, shares his expectations for the global market in 2018

2017 was a year of innovations, technology creation, and increased visibility in global logistics. Despite environmental and cyber disruptions, the industry made many large scales advances that will carry on through the coming year.

Rates & Capacity

In April, major ocean carriers formed three alliances as a response to the Hanjin collapse of 2016. These alliances have worked to optimize sailings and routes to combat capacity and rate issues of the past. Carriers invested in the building of larger vessels in major East-West trade lanes to accommodate for demand. Despite the optimization with these alliances, customers began to have concerns about transparency with carriers. The trend of transparency is penetrating almost every industry, and the ocean freight market is no exception. Some professionals believe that this could lead to online rates – allowing customers to understand freight prices as well as balance out the market1. Having transparency between carriers will give buying power to customers as they shop the market and will allow carriers to have insight into their competitions’ pricing.

Technological Advances

In response for customers’ desire for transparency, carriers and forwards alike have created tools to give customers insight into their shipments. Utilizing cloud based programs is allowing for better real time data for shipments, reducing the amount of emails and phone calls. As these tools are developed and implemented in 2018, supply chains will become further streamlined. Freight forwarding has been historically manual, so the implementation of these tools could eliminate large inefficiencies both on the carrier and customer side.

Cyber security will be a large focus for 2018 as parties saw the detrimental effects of the attack on Maersk in June. Universal software will be a focus, as it will not only streamline processes, but also work to mitigate risk of future cyber security attacks. Prior to the Maersk attack, the global logistics industry had a false sense of security when it came to cybersecurity. After seeing the immense cost and time delays of the attack on Maersk, logistics players will be working to create systematic approaches to their security2.

Environmental Relief Efforts

2017 was a year of countless global environmental disasters between earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes. The global logistics industry had to deal with delays and increased costs from port closures, rail delays, and road closures. Customers were presented with surcharges as capacity tightened in the affected areas. These disasters also highlighted the vitality of global logistics in relief efforts – between planes being sent to Puerto Rico, trucks being utilized to deliver aid to Houston flooding, among other efforts. Global players worked together to provide aid and highlighted the need for standard operating procedures for relief efforts in the future.

The innovative changes of 2017 have set 2018 up to be a year of advances in the global logistics industry. Working with a 3PL in the coming year can help mitigate risk and maneuver a changing global environment. Through transparency initiatives and healthier competition, 2018 stands to be a successful year for carriers, customers, and 3PLs alike.

Joining NFI in 2017, Mike brings years of industry expertise to the organization and is in charge of NFI’s North American global business where he works to seamlessly provide end-to-end solutions for NFI customers.


  1. https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/ocean-cargo-rates-transparency-consolidation-2017/448072/
  2. https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/BIMCO-software-standard-maintenance-shipping-cyber-attack/513117/