Equipment imbalances and empty container repositioning is a problem that accounts for $20 billion for the shipping industry annually, but due to the Coronavirus it got even worse for most carriers or NVOs. Especially in the US or Europe, companies are starting to experience frequent equipment shortages. This is a direct result of the ocean carriers’ blank sailing strategy which is triggered by the low/no volumes on major shipping routes. Based on ocean carriers’ comments and the Container Availability Index (CAx), it is expected that this trend will continue, if not only worsen.
The CAx forecasts supply and demand in container logistics for most of the biggest port locations for up to three weeks. It takes millions of containers tracked through the Container xChange online platform into account and shows that compared to 2019, containers are piling up in China. It shows values of 0.47 (20DCs), 0.94 (40DCs) and 0.71 (40HCs) for week 10 in Shanghai, China – a plus of 47% compared to week 10 last year.
Usually, it’s the other way around, but now we have a deficit of containers in North America and Europe, CAx values for Hamburg, Germany dropped by 33% to 0.07 (40HCs), 0.45 (40DCs) and 0.47 (20DCs). For Los Angeles, US, with CAx values of 0.25 (20DCs), 0.19 (40DCs) and 0.11 (40HCs) and Chicago, US with 0.02 (20DCs), 0.01 (40 DCs) and 0.11 (40HCs) it’s even worse and the forecast says it will not get better soon.
As a result of the blank sailings, it forces mainly NVOs to hold empty equipment longer than usual, incurring more demurrage & detention charges as well as chassis fees or repositioning equipment, where available, in addition to possible interchange fees. Additional surcharges and costs include Peak Season Surcharges (PSS), Container Imbalance Surcharge (CIS), Congestion Surcharges (CNS) and General Rate Increase (GRI). Feel free to use the CAx to find out about the equipment available in your port location.
A solution for how the problem can be tackled is the neutral online platform Container xChange. It lets NVOs identify partners for repositioning or find SOC containers to completely avoid demurrage & detention charges initially because shippers owned containers have just to be returned at the partner’s depot. Just type in your locations and find new partners in more than 2500 locations online.