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Overview of Shipping Delays at Ports: How much longer can it last?

Container delays are affecting ports all over the world. 2021 saw a perfect storm of pandemic-related issues that disrupted the global supply chain.

The pandemic led to a decrease in the number of available containers and an increase in demand for goods as people stocked up on essentials. This created a container shortage, which in turn led to higher shipping costs and delays at ports.

According to the Journal of Commerce, the average wait time for a vessel to be unloaded at Los Angeles/Long Beach port was 12 days in May  2022, compared to just two days in January 2020. This is just one example of how container delays are affecting ports around the world.

The question is: how much longer can these delays last?

There is no easy answer, as the situation is constantly changing. For example, many manufacturers are now routing to East coast ports rather than the West coast.  This however, has only minimally alleviated the problem as the capacity issues are shifting as a result of this changing dynamic.

Here are 4 things we will consider when talking about container port delays to best understand what’s to come and what Unilogic is doing to stay ahead of the issue:

  1. The pandemic has led to a decrease in the number of available containers.
  2. The pandemic has also led to an increase in demand for goods as people stocked up on essentials.
  3. Big ports are not immune: the average wait time for a vessel to be unloaded at Los Angeles/Long Beach port was 12 days as of  May 2022, compared to just two days in January 2020.
  4. The pandemic has led to a perfect storm of conditions that have disrupted the global supply chain. It will take time for things to return to normal.

The pandemic has led to a decrease in the number of available containers

Container availability is absolutely a factor when considering shipping delays. The pandemic has led to a decrease in the number of available containers as fewer people are traveling and more goods are being shipped. This has created a shortage of containers, which has driven up shipping costs and caused delays at ports.

Another factor behind the decrease in available containers is the number of sea vessels waiting to port.  For example, during the week of May 16th there was an average of 13 container vessels, equaling 100,000-plus waiting container capacity.

A solution for the decrease in available containers starts with strategy and optimization. Unilogic is helping its shipping clients by reducing the number of empty containers being shipped through its LCL Import/Export deconsolidation services. This allows shipments that are less than a full 20ft or 40ft container to be grouped with cargo from other shippers. Unilogic is adept at consolidation and deconsolidation of these shipments, streamlining the process for our clients.

The pandemic has also led to an increase in demand for goods as people stocked up on essentials

The pandemic has led to an increase in demand for goods, as people have been stocking up on essentials. This has put a strain on the global supply chain, as, we said earlier, there are not enough containers to meet the demand.

One way to address this issue is by increasing production. However, this is not always possible, as many factories are already operating at full capacity. Another solution is to use alternative modes of transportation, such as trucks and trains. This is where Unilogic can help, as we have a network of trucking and rail partners that we can utilize to move cargo.

Data is also important when it comes to managing demand. By understanding trends and patterns, we can better forecast demand and adjust our shipping plans accordingly.

Big ports are not immune to delays, shortages and strain

The biggest ports in the US are not immune to the challenges that we have been discussing. In fact, the pandemic has led to increased wait times not only at the West Coast ports, the trickle effect has caused capacity issues at East Coast ports as well. The biggest ports in the US, such as Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, Charleston, Savannah and Norfolk, have all been impacted in one way or another. Illinois, which has ports at Chicago, Burns Harbor and Peoria, has also been feeling the effects of the pandemic.

Statistics show that the pandemic has led to a decrease in the number of containers being shipped, as well as an increase in the number of vessels waiting to be unloaded. This has put a strain on the resources of these ports, causing delays.

 

The pandemic has led to a perfect storm of conditions that have disrupted the global supply chain

It will take time for things to return to normal without a doubt and we are already seeing progress little by little. 2022 looks to be a better year for the global supply chain. Some data shows that 2023 will be the year that things return to “normal.”

But can something like this ever happen again? The short answer is yes. A number of factors, such as the increasing global population and the rise of protectionism (protectionism is when a country or government enacts laws or policies to restrict or limit international trade), could lead to another perfect storm of conditions that disrupt the global supply.

Unilogic is proud to say that, as an essential service, we managed to be there for our clients in more ways than one. We offer dray/transload/storage solutions. These are unprecedented times and complex challenges are arising as a result. That being said, we’re a company that thrives on providing optimal and creative solutions.

What can you do to avoid or mitigate delays?

There are a few things that you can do to avoid or mitigate delays. First, it is important to have a partner that you can trust, like Unilogic. We have the experience and resources to help you navigate these challenges.

Second, data is your friend. The more data you have, the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions. We can help you obtain the data you need to make informed decisions about your shipping plans.

Third, be prepared for delays. They are a reality of the current situation and it is important to have contingency plans in place. By being prepared, you can avoid or mitigate the impact of delays.

Fourth, stay informed. The pandemic is constantly evolving and the situation can change at a moment’s notice. It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments so that you can adjust your plans accordingly.

Unilogic is here to help you navigate the challenges of the pandemic. We have the experience and resources to help you avoid or mitigate delays. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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