Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and four other container shipping firms are set to establish an association to promote digitalisation, standardisation and interoperability in the sector.

The other companies include AP Moller – Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, and Ocean Network Express.

IT experts from all five companies are currently planning to create a set of common information technology standards that will be openly available and free for all stakeholders of the entire container shipping industry.

The association is expected to start operations early next year, subject to any applicable regulatory requirements.

MSC CIO André Simha said: “It’s in the customers’ and all stakeholders’ best interests if container shipping companies operate with a common set of information technology standards.

“We are striving for less red tape and better transparency.

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“The timing is right, as emerging technologies create new customer-friendly opportunities. Together, we gain traction in delivering technological breakthroughs and services to our customers compared to working in our own closed silos.”

“Together, we gain traction in delivering technological breakthroughs and services to our customers compared to working in our own closed silos.”

Once formed, the new association will be a neutral and non-profit body for ocean carriers.

However, the association is not expected to develop or operate any digital platform, and will not have discussions on any commercial or operational matters.

CMA CGMIT and Transformations executive vice-president Rajesh Krishnamurthy said: “CMA CGM is always looking for best practices and standards to support the innovation and digital strategy of the company.

“Being a founding member will enable us to work together on setting the standards for digitisation of the entire industry.”

The founding members of the container shipping association have urged others involved in the industry to join the body.