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January 2 2023

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Page 46 of 131

Januar y 2, 2023 | Journal of Commerce 45 EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY 2023 ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK Maritime deugro Tobias Schultz President - North America The last two and a half years have put global supply chains to the test — from COVID-19 pandemic mandates, to geo - political unrest, to the energy crisis, to a shortage of well-trained and experienced personnel. All these concurrent challenges have exposed sensitive vulnerabilities around the world that are also having a strong impact on global supply chains and need to be addressed. To address these multiple challenges now and in the future, and to ensure sta - ble and secure supply chains, resilient, flexible, and globally proven logistics and IT networks; proximity to clients and part- ners; and close, proactive communication are paramount. This is the only way to ensure supply chains for clients in the face of todays and tomorrow's challenges. Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, the project logistics industry faced huge challenges: unpredictable COVID-19 mandates, increasing freight rates, severely tightened vessel space and availability, and congestion at seaports and airports — coupled with increasing energy and fuel costs, HR issues, driver shortages, dynamic supply chains, and procurement strategies. With a century of experience in managing the most challenging proj - ects, deugro worked tirelessly with clients and partners to identify these challenges, risk-assess solutions, and deliver innovation on project delivery to benefit safety, budgets, and schedules. deugro focused on processes, systems, and cultural change to ensure closer cooperation with clients and partners to identify new contracting and operational models to deliver success. Throughout this change, deugro ensured that major projects such as EGAT in Poland, Long Son in Vietnam, and UPM Taurus in Uruguay were successful in moving over 658,500 freight tons and tens of thousands of shipments worldwide. Logistics is a people and a skills business; the safe and successful execu - tion of projects depends largely on the experience, competence, creativity, flexibility, and overall performance of each individual employee in a team environment. To ensure excellence in all services provided, well-trained employees who can competently and confidently respond to and anticipate the needs of our clients are more in demand than ever, and investing in people and work culture becomes increasingly important. One of the biggest challenges currently is finding young talent, as many industries are competing heavily for the same pool of human resources. With usually long working hours and high stress levels, also trig - gered due to the current environment to find competitive rates and space, the logistics industry is not for everyone. On the flip side, it remains an industry which is constantly evolving in line with ever-changing require- ments and complexity. Therefore, it is critical that we as an industry make clear to young professionals the importance and attractiveness of project forwarding as a key role within the supply chain, while also highlighting the many oppor- tunities available in this specialized and challenging career field. We need to become more visible to potential applicants as an industry: digitally, but also physically, at SCM workshops, colleges, and universities alike. The demands of young talent in an increasingly employee-oriented market are significantly higher than in the past, as is the willingness to change jobs if supposedly better alternatives present themselves. Therefore, in the coming years, it will be even more important to invest in effective recruitment and development planning, to retain employees through a respectful and motivating work culture, and to offer clear profes - sional development and training opportunities. This also includes the equal development, promotion, and empowerment of all employees to ensure diversity, equality, and inclusion. Be it shipment tracking, digital tools to identify and reduce carbon emissions, purchase order management systems, or the use of modern communication systems — the use of IT technology, interfaces, and systems to communicate and secure supply chains — has increased signifi - cantly over the last two and a half years. This trend will continue. deugro continues to record and assess its Scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emis- sions, focusing on developing and implementing solutions to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. To achieve this, intelligent routes and cargo consolidation plans, modern low-emission transportation modes, optimal cargo space utilization, and forward planning of transport schedules are utilized. To identify CO2 reduction potentials more precisely, deugro integrated EcoTransIT World into its CargoWise Transport Management System. It calculates the carbon emissions of complete transport chains across all transportation modes worldwide, based on a neutral methodology. This means that at the touch of a button, users can view the carbon footprint data of global shipments. On the one hand, the proportion of tasks in the freight forwarding sector where human skills such as experience and flexibility are indispens - able still predominates; on the other hand, there are increased areas that are already being replaced or supplemented by IT technology, achieving significant efficiency increases, risk minimization, transparency increases, and cost reductions. The selection of and investment in customized and forward-looking digitalization tools and networks will therefore become an increasingly important and competitive factor in the coming years. I think what we are seeing now in terms of constraints rivals that of the pandemic's peak. We still encounter lengthy delays at ports for drop - ping or collecting containers, leading to truckers avoiding these routes and shrinking the availability pool. This compounds the problem of already having limitations on which truckers are approved for these services. One thing we can say is that this challenge has brought us closer to our partners in the various modes. We are more frequently engaging at a higher level with our subcontractors to better understand the market forces they are seeing and how we can work together to implement mutually beneficial solutions that drive value to our clients. We have taken various approaches to securing services, from minimum spend targets, to day hires, to expand - ing networks. Ultimately, we see this as a joint discussion to solve the capacity issue rather than an us-versus-them situation. While we have investigated using other gateways for projects, both locally and globally, there has been a constraint in tonnage and availability of space, making it sometimes better to take the known issue rather than explore the unknown. While there have been options to route to alter- native ports and have a larger onshore portion, we often find some of the alternatives are just as much of an issue, as by the time the vessel calls, the ports themselves are experiencing backlogs. With most forwarders and carriers looking for fewer problematic gateways, we often all choose the same one, making it just as problematic as the others. Hopefully over time, we will see congestion ease as staffing levels return, infrastructure is addressed, and new technologies release faster turnaround of services. "The selection of and investment in customized and forward-looking digitalization tools and networks will therefore become an increasingly important and competitive factor in the coming years."

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