Facts about inland shipping:
Inland shipping is an exceptional industry characterised by many independent entrepreneurs. Today, the sector has some 3,650 independent entrepreneurs and a fleet of around 7,500 inland vessels. Despite the many independent entrepreneurs, inland shipping is a close-knit community.
Inland shipping is traditionally characterised by family-owned businesses. Even today, the majority of the industry, an estimated 75%, comprises family-owned businesses whereby the business is preserved by the family. The remainder is comprised of shipping companies.
The majority of entrepreneurs in the shipping industry own a family business. They are between 40 and 55 years of age and have an average of 25 years’ work experience. In a family-owned business, husband and wife navigate the ship together, sometimes with the aid of a seaman. In approximately half of the cases, the rest of the family is also on board.
Nowadays, vessels are navigated for increasingly longer periods and the tendency is to sail continuously (24-hours a day). Consequently, the family-owned business is changing and the families of ship’s owners navigate more and more in a leisure time system, for example two weeks on and two weeks off.
In general, the impact of children on the management of the business is great. The navigational area and navigation time are often adapted to the children’s schooling. Most children of school age go to a boarding home as it provides them with a place to live so long as they have to go to school and while their parents are away working. However, the boarding home is not a school. The children attend a regular primary school or a regular secondary school. At weekends and during school holidays the children are back on board.
The growth of the leisure time system has partly led to a rapid increase in scale, which, in turn, has partly led to a number of shipping companies becoming active in the tanker sector and, to a limited extent, in the dry cargo sector. The owner of a shipping company has a number of his own ships in service. A shipping company often employs a shipping agent who is responsible for collecting the cargo and the freight charges.
Where does a ship’s owner get his cargo/freight from? A skipper calls the shipping office or searches the Internet to see what shipments are available. If he/she is interested in a particular trip, he/she negotiates the freight price and preconditions with the shipper. It is also possible to conclude a contract for multiple trips. Some ship’s owners have formed alliances and collectively negotiate with the loaders or conclude contracts directly with the customers. The majority of partnerships have an internal rotation system.