The port and terminal disruption that began in Felixstowe last Summers, before spreading to Southampton and London Gateway has not disappeared, with congestion continuing to disrupt collections, empty returns and LCL unloading.
Transport operations have been under significant stress since last Summer and congestion at the container terminals continues to be acute, with operations constrained by COVID-safe working practices, which are exacerbated further if vessels divert or unexpected vessels arrive.
We are working hard with our supply chain partners, to accelerate LCL availability, but everyone is being impacted by the disruption at our ports and it is likely that we will not see any tangible improvements until volumes subside after Chinese New Year in February.
In their outlook for 2021 DP World, who manage Southampton and London Gateway report that import volumes from Asia remain strong, with ships arriving later resulting in bunching and waits for berths, while high stack density (>120% in December) has ships staying on berth longer.
They are working closely with carriers to ship out as many empties as possible, but many local storage facilities remain full, with around 20,000+ empty TEUS waiting at one stage.
The UK is still facing a general haulage shortage and, as the situation improves, the terminals would like to see more trucks coming in to take more containers out therefore reducing the container dwell times that have increased.
Port volumes remains very high and although carriers are activity moving empties out, restitutions are not available until vehicles return to the port resulting in some delays or diversions to off dock depots.
As volumes grow, with more vessel diversions accepted we are seeing more delays, as the port limits the number of units on the terminal, leading to delivery delays.
Vehicle turnaround times continue to be poor, particularly at peak times, with berths operating at capacity, with vessel diversions leading to spiked demands for haulage capacity at short notice.
Our hopes lie with the slowdown in Asian manufacturing that typically accompanies the Chinese New Year in February and the carriers decision to maintain most of their capacity, which will increase the amount vessel space to clear backlogs of containers and alleviate pressure on the UK’s ports.
Maersk and MSC have latterly announced intention to blank three sailings from Asia in weeks 5-7, with one vessel slipping’ into the following week, while CMA CGM will skip three loops during the same period.
Maersk maintain that the blankings will “improve schedule reliability” and not to take out capacity, which is critical if equipment is to be repositioned.
Norman Global Logistics has strong working relationships with port, NVOCC and haulage partners, which ensures we can react swiftly to changing situations.
We will continue to keep you informed of any significant developments and assure you that our objective at all times is to keeping your supply chain optimised, avoiding delays and costs.