16 October 2014
Anyone expecting freight from the USA should be very concerned.
There have been a Perfect Storm of factors, each of which has contributed to a situation that appears to some experts as having no immediate solution:
1. Shipping lines sold off their Chassis – traditionally, containers have been delivered to clients for loading on a trailer (or Chassis) – once loaded, a truck hooks up the chassis and takes it to the Port (or rail head). Over recent years, many major shipping lines have divested themselves of their equipment, passing the responsibility and capital cost to carriers who unfortunately appear to have been unable to afford to maintain numbers.
2. Shortage of containers – there simply are not enough containers available to promptly supply everyone who needs them.
3. Massive ships. The major shipping lines have sought cost benefits and efficiencies by increasing the capacity of their vessels from 4000, 7500, 12000, 14000 TEU (TEU = 20ft equivalent). Unfortunately many Ports simply cannot efficiently or effectively load and unload these vessels to maximise their abilities – often cranes are too few in number and not able to reach far enough
4. Congestion. Because so many containers need to be handled in such a short time, (up to 28000 in a single vessel arrival / departure), there is massive congestion in land area simply not big enough to cope. Trucks have been waiting for upwards of 12 hours to uplift or drop off a single container.
5. Cargo not uplifted. Because ships often must enter and leave their booked slots at specific times (regardless of whether or not they have completed loading), containers are being left behind. Two vessels departed Long Beach for New Zealand this week not having completed loading, each leaving over 1000 containers behind.
6. Airfreight Clients looking to move shipments from ocean to air are also finding that capacity is critical.
News added by: Don Malcolm 16 October 2014