Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Glut of Container Freight Can be a Blessing for Some and a Curse for Others

Whilst One Port Celebrates Record Cargo Throughput Others SImply Cannot Cope
Shipping News Feature

UK – US – Stories about ports from the two countries this week illustrate two completely different sides of the world of shipping. Whilst Teeside’s recent investments in ferry and container terminals have made a record week for freight throughput possible, Californian ports are still apparently in chaos, not from a lack of business but simply the inability to manage the volume of cargo they are witnessing.

Teesport, owned by PD Ports, expanded its two box handling facilities and ferry terminal in 2011/12 at a cost of £16.7 million, and this week had an exceptional week handling a record amount of unitised cargo, exceeding its previous record by handling over 12,000 TEU in a single week. The port’s total capacity is now 650,000 TEU making it the second largest container port in the North of England. Frans Calje, PD Ports Managing Director – Unitised and Portcentric Logistics, commented on the record week:

“This year we have seen a significant increase in container volumes being handled at Teesport following the introduction of two new shipping lines and the growing support of the existing and new portcentric customers that use the port on an ongoing basis. Last week we handled the highest amount of containers at the Port which was supported by additional sailings and peak season volumes. Our team at Teesport has performed exceptionally well with the uplift in volume and this week has shown what the Port is capable of.”

Meanwhile the situation described in our last article regarding congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach looks set not to be resolved in time for Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. Despite a plan to introduce thousands more chassis to convey the huge stockpiles of containers post clearance it seems the wheels are, quite literally, moving too slowly.

Importers report two to three week delays for transport after cargo has been passed by Customs and road haulage outfits are blaming the ports, rather than a lack of equipment, for the extreme delays. Hauliers say that the time taken to load the trailers and the amount of congestion are the main causes of the problems and that it is unlikely that many goods will now arrive and be released in time for the holidays.

Whilst the hauliers turn business away because of the backlog, describing the situation as ‘the worst ever seen’ some importers have been forced to air freight in emergency supplies whilst their goods languish somewhere in the docks, often in off-site car parks being used as makeshift storage, with added extra delays associated for longer recovery.

Photo: Teesport courtesy of PD Ports.