Equipment shortages complicate peak season

Containers are a hot commodity for shippers in Asia. With imports near historic records in the US and more often containers from Asia are entering our country to meet the skyrocketing demand (and rates, honestly) containers are in short supply. Containers aren’t being turned around to be reloaded as quickly as before since workers are still partially on furlough and social distancing mandates in the U.S. require fewer people per warehouse. Weather issues that slow down vessel travel and make some ports inaccessible are exacerbating the trouble the US has getting containers back to Asia.

“There are a multitude of reasons [for the container shortages]: a trade imbalance from Europe and the US to Asia, bad weather, and a cargo rush ahead of the weeklong shutdown for China’s National Day holiday,” said Sundara, director of ocean freight for Asia Pacific at Scan Global Logistics.

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The equipment imbalance won’t go away anytime soon, but it can’t last forever. Demand is still climbing as we head into peak season and stores begin stocking up for Christmas and the holiday shopping season this month. Carriers will have to cut back the allotted time for containers to be out, loaded and returned so that the process can pick up speed, but that’s a long road to achieve stasis. Like any tight bottleneck, the unclogging of this situation will be slow and deliberate but steadily improving along the next year.

One of the best things you can do if you’re concerned about equipment issues is to plan ahead. There’s no longer a too far away time to book your cargo. If you know you’re going to need it, contact your Nelson International representative to reserve your equipment before it’s too late. We’re here utilizing our extensive carrier connections to help you keep your cargo moving even in this crazy time. This advice isn’t just specific to ocean freight; air freight, truck and even rail shipments will all go much more smoothly if you can give as much notice as possible so equipment and space can be secured. It won’t hurt for securing the best rate at all, either.