Joined Forces for the Maritime Industry

The aim is clear: we want to tackle the most pressing topics in maritime transport by combining academic research and practical experience. Bringing business and academia together, KLU and Hapag-Lloyd have partnered up to form the new Hapag-Lloyd Center for Shipping and Global Logistics (CSGL). The new Research Center, led by KLU Professor Michele Acciaro, will further establish Hamburg as an international hub of maritime knowledge. It has brought a new face to KLU. We met Dr. Katharina Renken, Senior Researcher in the CSGL at KLU, to talk about current challenges in shipping and how she is going to address them.

Katharina, you will be working in the new Hapag-Lloyd Center for Shipping and Global Logistics. How is the Research Center going to support the maritime industry?

We will combine our forces to solve current and future questions of the industry. The cooperation between academic research and business gives us the opportunity to look at these topics from different perspectives and to serve the needs of practitioners.

KLU provides excellent conditions with its research driven approach and its well-known academic impact in logistics topics. With our connections to stakeholders, decision makers and practitioners, we understand the challenges of the industry and are excited to address them with clients and partners.

What will be your responsibilities in the CSGL?

I will focus on the acquisition and execution of new and innovative projects in cooperation with industry and research facilities. We will be addressing pressing topics in the shipping and logistics field, such as digitalization and sustainability, while keeping economic and social factors in mind.

One of my major interests is to connect stakeholders, decision makers and researchers with the highest standards to solve the challenges of the future and create pioneering opportunities and solutions for all parties involved.

You mentioned digitalization and sustainability as important topics for the maritime industry. Which other fields of research will be emphasized by the CSGL?

Our team has been working on topics such as pricing and innovations in ports and shipping, the role of shipping in humanitarian operations, sustainability in the shipping sector, digitalization of ports and its surroundings (e.g. Terminal Operation Software), topics in regards to the port of the future (Port 4.0), and alternative fuels such as onshore power supply.

This background and experience allows for us to address a diverse range of current and future topics with our customers and partners. In particular, sustainability and port-city- have a place near to my heart.

You joined KLU in August 2018 to work in the CSGL. What were you doing before then?

Before joining KLU I worked as a project engineer and deputy department head in port management at the JadeWeserPort. My job was to prepare the opening of the port and lead it into operation. Being part of a young, dynamic team working on a green field project is challenging and very rewarding.

I was involved in many topics such as the port’s tariff and terms of conditions. This gave me the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of national and international law and benchmark. I finished the alarm and emergency plan, and with my background in business process management, I set up business processes for the port office. Among other projects, I also implemented the accounting and port visualisation software with my colleagues which required internal teamwork and structured communication with the provider.

Furthermore, I worked at Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services where I learned how to address international and national project calls with applied and research oriented portions. My abilities in networking with partners and clients from industry and research led to great collaborations. Moreover, I maintained permanent communication to exchange ideas and important information.

My achievements and ambitions in combination with my engineering skills laid the foundation to be chosen to join the fast-track career program TALENTA speed up, founded and financed by the Fraunhofer Group.

And what made you chose KLU?

While working at the JadeWeserPort I very much enjoyed bringing a new project into life and into operation. Building up the new Hapag-Lloyd Center for Shipping and Global Logistics is a similar undertaking. It is a great opportunity to widen my research and experience but also to bring in my network of partners from industry and academia. I didn’t want to miss this!

Looking into the future, which challenges and developments do you see in the maritime industry?

Digitalization is a big topic of particular interest. The connection along all players of the supply chain may change the transport sector as a whole, including the maritime transport and shipping. Digitalization also allows connecting stakeholders, decision makers, and customers. This is the basis for investigating demand and supply and in turn determining the need and the circumstances for transport in general.

Sustainability and preserving the environment are also substantial topics for shipping and global logistics. The efficient use of resources, such as fuel and transport capacity, the support of machines and robots along terminals and ports, the creation of better work conditions for employees and seafarers are only a selection of opportunities to create the sustainable port of the future.

Such developments have to be economically justified to be implemented and successful. An increase of flexibility, robustness and efficiency within the supply chain and within its parts such as ports and terminals aligns with this requirement.

Katharina, thank you very much.


Located at KLU, the Hapag-Lloyd Center for Shipping and Global Logistics (CSGL) is led by KLU Professor Michele Acciaro with the support of KLU researchers and associated members. Its inauguration took place on November 22, 2018.