Ben Blamire gives us the breakdown of what to expect at Breakbulk Middle East
Ben Blamire, Commercial Director of Breakbulk Middle East gives us a preview of what to expect during the fourth edition of Breakbulk Middle East
Breakbulk Middle East, an annual conference and exhibition that gathers key industry figures and experts from around the world to converge and share innovative ideas, is all set for its fourth edition to take place in Dubai from 11th February to 12th February 2019, at the Dubai World Trade Center. The yearly platform provides an interactive platform to connect and network with shippers, carriers and heavy transport specialists; generating informed discussions on the opportunities and challenges facing the global and regional project cargo sector.
How do you see the breakbulk/project cargo sector in the Middle East performing in the coming year?
I think there are better times ahead for breakbulk and project cargo shippers in the coming year. There is a positive outlook and we see a positive upturn in 2019. It will be safe to say that most companies are cautiously optimistic as the market dynamics are unpredictable, but the success of the sector heavily depends on the improvement in the global economy.
In the Gulf region, in particular, breakbulk and project cargo industry plays a vital role in infrastructure development. As a sector, breakbulk represents a complex market encompassing commodities as varied as steel and forest products, to heavy-lift shipments for wind turbines and equipment for construction work. This variation exposes the sector to macroeconomic trends that have to be addressed by both market segment and geography.
UAE and governments across the region are looking to build more diverse and integrated economies. Thus despite the downturn in the past few years, the overall signs point towards a stronger macroeconomic picture as we move closer to 2020. It is also expected that competition from bulk carriers and container ships will also decline.
What are some of the challenges specific for this sector and how does this event address them?
Bulk and container operators continuously face overcapacity issues. Also, most bulkers and box ships cannot provide the logistical insight, technical know-how, specialist lifting, and transportation equipment, or the years of experience required to safely and consistently shift complex cargoes from A-to-B, this is leading to a real loss of quality in the sector.
Safe and reliable movement of cargo is vital in this sector, not to mention critical. The upcoming Breakbulk ME 2019 conference and exhibition will address and hold discussions on the opportunities and challenges facing the global and regional project cargo sector. This is a specialized platform focusing entirely on the breakbulk industry, thus the networking opportunities and sharing of perspectives by experts from all over the globe, is immense. Every year we strive hard to hold an event that showcases the industry’s best practices and brings forth effective solutions that enhance the UAE global maritime ranking.
What benefit can local and international companies gain by attending the BBME 2019?
This annual conference is the largest gathering of decision makers and key stakeholders in the industry. Companies can vastly benefit from the discussions and sessions to be held at the event, where new ideas will be discussed, challenges addressed and new initiatives will be launched to enhance the performance of this sector.
This is the fourth edition of Breakbulk Event? How is it different?
This is the first time the event will be held in Dubai, as the emirate already has a rich and varied maritime industry dating back about 7,000 years. The importance of trading by sea is fundamental to the economy of the Emirates and Dubai today, and it has been a fundamental part of the economy.
There will be a special session in next year’s edition on the economic outlook in the Middle East delivered by top executives and experts who will share their unique perspective on the breakbulk content in the region. With respect to the recent Treaty of Resolve between UAE and Saudi Arabia, an emphasis is put on the diversification and reforms in the Kingdom to support the Vision 2030.
There will also be talks on renewable energy sources in the Middle East and investing in the local workforce to ensure sustainability while filling the knowledge gap in the industry. The panel will further discuss planned and existing programs, bridging the skills and diversity gap and utilizing future project cargo workforce.
In the agenda, there is a special mention of ‘driving optimization through technology’.
What is the importance of implementing new technology in the industry?
Technology is rapidly taking over all sectors, including the maritime industry. Its implementation is inevitable and despite certain challenges, it has the power to change business processes drastically. Ship-owners are aware of the changing face of ship emissions and smarter fleet management, so robotics, digital currencies, and deep learning analytics are rapidly being used. Technology has also changed operations making them more efficient, increasing onshore and offshore communication and permeated into ship design aiding countries to comply with IMO standards for safety and sustainability.
I think digitalisation is also going to be responsible for a lot more transparency and accuracy in the supply chain, which will in turn help to build more trust in this sector. For most firms, use of technology will bring about a change in innovation systems and business models allowing new market entrants, new patterns for collaboration and emerging global competition.
All of this will serve to put clients’ trust in the sector and will eventually add more value to the industry that will contribute to its growth. BBME 2019 will pay special emphasis on the role emerging technologies will play in the overall growth of this sector.
To what extent loyal sponsors play a part in promoting this event?
Our sponsors have always played a huge role in making this event a success. We would specifically like to thank host port Abu Dhabi ports, King Abdullah ports, Bahri Logistics, Agility, Micco and Cosco Shipping for endorsing the upcoming edition.
What is your opinion the benefits of this conference and expo?
There are more and more companies attending every year. This is an excellent platform for producers, suppliers and decision makers to be in one place and offer critical insights into the issues that are important for the sectors’ growth and advancement.