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(c)2001 Issue No 66 26 Feb 01
Published free of charge to Readers
Editor: Sam Ignarski

In this issue:

1. Welcome
2. P&I Renewals
3. New Terminal Gate Bots
4. E-Ports
5. The Legal Status of Digital Signatures
6. And Finally...

1. Welcome

This edition of Bow Wave comes to Readers after a week spent in the Asia Pacific region and after attending a fascinating Terminal Operations Conference in Hong Kong.

So jet lag willing, some items for those who are interested in the world of container stevedoring and terminal operations.

It was at the social held at the estimable Viceroy Curry House in Wanchai organised by the professional TOC (Asia) team that we met Tim Harris, late of P&O, to compare amusing notes on life's great subjects of working (and not working) for the organisation.


2. P&I Renewals

Many readers of Bow Wave active in the marine insurance business will know that the traditional renewal season closed on 20th February with a number of clear gainers and and losers. Generally the commentators have remarked on how relatively poorly the performance has been from the fringe fixed market players against the mutual Clubs who are members of the International Group. This is true but the natural terrain of mutuals is the rising part of each insurance cycle where they are able to take a longer view and charge somewhat less than their cash starved counterparts in the fixed market.

Moreover, within this Group which commands the business of around 90 per cent of the world's shipowners, some Clubs did rather better than others and the movements between Clubs did not necessarily follow, pari passu, their positions in the solvency tables of Standard & Poors.

The market seems to be developing something of a nose for those organisations which have developed not especially attractive cultures as a result of the besetting sins of the troubled mutual.

One of these, the rather intense search for scapegoats, internecine strife and the defenestration of staff might be termed the Back Stabbers Culture.

The other main one comes when the managers of mutual Clubs and the Senior Board Officers of the Clubs spend such a lot of time getting to know and admire each other that they rather take the old eyes off the market and its demands. This might be termed the Back Scratchers Culture.

In any event on the evidence of this season's renewals it might be argued that the shipowner inclined to change has been following the industry in recent years
and may be more able to read between the lines of the shipping press than many are prepared to credit him or her.

3. New Terminal Gate Bots

Simon Spoormaker and Rudy Martens' paper on new technology applied to the good old terminal gate procedures caught the eye at TOC (Asia). Their system offers a clear way into the future for this aspect of operations.

Instead of the manual checks for container condition vehicle license plates and serial numbers, this technology uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), clever
lighting, three kinds of camera and internet technology to deliver a 99 per cent accurate image to be taken, read and filed up to 3000 times a day. The system is so good it is tuned to identify damage of no less than two square centimetres in area and can photograph a moving vehicle at speeds between 20 and 30 kilometres per hour.

See the Cosmos site for yourself

4. E-Ports

The talk of TOC (Asia) was how quickly China in general and Shanghai in particular were rising in the league tables of the container terminals. Shanghai is now positioned 7th in the world (between Long Beach and Rotterdam) in terms of the throughput of containers which is measured in TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units).

The Session on E-Ports brought together Aaron Mak and Marco Tapia, the Gentlemen responsible for the IT efforts of Line (Hutchison's Logistics Information Network Enterprise) and Poports (P&O's Ports Division) respectively,

Aaron Mak's presentation concentrated on the integration of information and minimising the fragmentation of the freight world. There is work to do here as anyone who has followed the story so far. For instance, there is still no sign of an on-line ship card which could serve the industry by announcing arrivals and departures in the ports of the world all in one system.

Marco Tapia explained the strategy of P&O Ports, how they buy in software where possible, use the internet extensively to cope with the diversity of the 80 sites where terminals are managed and how the experiences of one location are applied to others elsewhere.

In an aside, Tapia saw good prospects ahead for wireless technologies, peer to peer computing and web resident applications which obviated many PC network support needs.

The portals are to be found at


5. The Legal Status of Digital Signatures

Courtesy of the 5GM newsletter we read:

Unlike traditional pen and paper signatures, digital (or electronic) signatures may not carry the force of law. There are two types of legislation on the subject of electronic signatures.

The first type is technology neutral (i.e. they do not specify or require particular technology for e-signatures).

The second type is the hybrid Digital Signature Acts, which give special status to certain types of electronic signatures known as Digital Signatures (created using public key cryptographic technology).

The terms "electronic signatures" and "digital signature" are often confused. Electronic signatures refer to any method used to associate a person's identity with an electronic record. Digital signatures refer to a specific technology (using asymmetric cryptography) for binding a person's identity to an electronic record. Digital signatures are generally regarded as the most robust and secure method of creating electronic signatures.

Comprehensive information on the legal status of digital signatures and related e-commerce law is available at the Baker and McKenzie

And at 5gm's own site at:

6. And Finally...

Voice Mail for Slightly Strained.......

A transcript of the new answering service recently installed at the Mental Health Institute:

Hello,* and welcome to the mental health hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.

If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.

If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are a manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press - no-one will answer.

If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969.

If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the hash key until a representative comes on the line.

If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone Number, date of birth, social security number and your mother's maiden name.

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.

If you have bi-polar disorder, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep.* Or after the beep.* Please wait for the beep.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have low self esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you

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