Terminal congestion in Europe is high, even though there are fewer containers being handled than a year ago.
Ocean carriers handle congestion by skipping calls, and landing the containers at smaller ports, then sending them by land to their final destination. Skipping calls fouls up schedules for everyone, and makes it impossible to plan for increased capacity. It’s a nightmare situation for port terminal scheduling and for much of the hinterland service logistics, such as barge, rail and truck.
Another source of congestion is containers sitting in ports, often empty, awaiting movement elsewhere.
Almost everyone believes ocean carriers ought to improve on keeping schedules and sailing when they planned, meeting commitments made in advance to the terminals they intend to stop at. When there’s little excess capacity, altering schedules throws all the downstream logistics plans out of whack. It is like a bullwhip effect; when a ship skips, all the efforts planned to handle those cargoes is wasted, and has to be reorganized as best it can for what is believed to be the next round of deliveries. Keeping entire supply chains in a quandary does not lead to efficient logistics in the hinterland.
Ocean carriers are averaging about 30-40% ontime deliveries right now, and their on-time percentage has been excruciatingly low for a couple of years. No land-based logistics service could stay in business with these kinds of numbers.
In order to get ocean carriers to commit to scheduled berthings, ports are going to have to share information about berth window schedules. If this data were more public, comparisons could be made and carriers that routinely missed their slots could be penalized by getting deferred when they wanted to berth elsewhere. Getting liners to commit to berthing schedules requires cooperation among ports.
By Mike Wackett 27/07/2022Carriers ‘must commit to berthing windows’ as N Europe ports see volumes fall – The Loadstar