Freight times rise as port infrastructure stalls

Lead times for Imports into UK ports are on the rise as a reduction in availability of carrier haulage capacity caused by ongoing rail engineering coupled with the poor health of the trucking sector and the ongoing operating system faults at the port of Felixstowe begin to take their toll.

It is now over four months since Hutchison Ports installed its nGen terminal operating system (TOS) at the Port of Felixstowe, a system which it had already fitted in 25 of its managed ports worldwide. The ongoing delays and problems ever since have been well documented, vessels diverted to other ports, road haulage drivers facing long waits to collect or deliver containers, sometimes without the benefit of basic facilities.

One freight forwarder commented:

”Ships don’t arrive or are put back whilst others simply cut and run (offloading some containers, then returning later to take more off). If they are due elsewhere they simply sail and make way on the berth for another vessel which has been waiting, heading for another port and discharging there instead. One CSCL vessel arrived at the berth 16 days late, we get no feedback from the port management and in fact feel that they use any excuse to charge us extras, such as demurrage.

”Any problems, perhaps something like a Bill of Lading not properly endorsed, they demand a letter explaining, then invoice for attendance. They bill for demurrage in a situation which they have caused as it is impossible to get jobs urgently collected for distribution with haulage rates for such consignments having gone through the roof due to their incompetence.”

One of the biggest complaints was that vessels were, and are, being diverted to other ports, principally the DP World facilities at Southampton. These ports then started to suffer delays and became another target for those complaining about levels of service.

Looking at our customers deliveries and planning ahead will be important for the foreseeable future. There are other potential routes into the UK but these are becoming busier as demand naturally spreads itself across the UK’s ports. Plans have been put in place with partners to ensure lead times remain low but it is also important that we work in unison, communicate effectively and plan ahead with our customers in order to ensure products are delivered within good time.

Here are a few tips from us, to help with your packaging supply:

Forecast ahead.

It is of imperative importance that customers contact us or their existing supplier and begin to forecast ahead. Doing this will allow your supplier to plan production ahead to ensure on-time delivery.

Communicate with your supplier.

Communication is key and so it’s important to stay in touch with your supplier to ensure all is running smoothly. Your supplier should be able to support you through this.

Think of the alternatives.

FIBC and other PP woven packaging which is often imported from India and the surrounding regions is now looking at likely 12-14+ week lead times. If you are in need of product quickly then Rosenflex can offer option’s from Europe (6-8 weeks lead times) to ensure a smooth supply chain, however these are often at a greater cost.

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