What is the current situation at ports in Northwest Europe?
Northwest European ports such as Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, and Antwerp are currently witnessing unprecedented yard density and port congestion levels. The reasons for this are multifold:
a continuously high flow of import cargo
containers that were initially bound for Russia are now stuck in these relay ports
full customer warehouses
trucker and inland capacity shortages
labour shortages resulting from Covid-19
Further, global vessel schedules continue to be disrupted, causing vessels to arrive in the ports outside official schedules and thus making berthing plans challenging to manage.
The results are that vessels must wait much longer for berthing windows (describes the time slots you have to dock the ship and complete your loading and discharge operations) in the ports and have less time to load and discharge their cargo. They sometimes even have to skip a call or cannot handle all container moves as planned.
When it comes to inland transportation, container handling is also significantly less efficient because there is much less space to manoeuvre the containers. In addition, full containers cannot leave the terminal as quickly as expected because there is insufficient truck/rail/barge capacity to move them to their final destinations. This further complicates the situation. In turn, the terminals must restrict their gate opening times to control the volume, which challenges the inland transportation planning even more.
There are ongoing talks between the German trade union Verdi and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS), acknowledging the potential for strike action to take place and cause further disruption. We understand that the next round of discussions will occur on Tuesday 21st June and will evaluate the next steps in the event of any stoppages. Moreover, there has also been strike action in Antwerp, fortunately with only very limited impact on port operations.
Altogether this situation leads to severe delays and clogged supply chains.
What are we doing to elevate the challenging logistics situation in Northwest Europe for you?
We are trying to divert cargo flows, especially transhipments, to less congested ports, so the terminals have more space. We are also in contact with relevant shipment parties to elevate Russia-bound cargo and find solutions for new shipment destinations. One critical component is reducing the number of containers in the terminals. We are working hard on securing additional inland capacity to deliver your containers to their final destination.
With Twill, you can rest assured that our teams are working around the clock to keep supply chains moving as seamlessly as possible to minimise the impact on your logistics. We will continue to monitor the ever-changing circumstances in Europe over the coming weeks and adapt as necessary to support your global logistics needs.
How can you contribute to easing logistics challenges in Northwest Europe?
The terminals need to free up space now and fast. We hope to have your support to ensure operations run as smoothly as possible despite the circumstances. To help alleviate the port congestion, we recommend picking up full import containers as swiftly as possible and making empty containers once again available for exports. Please also return full export containers as late as possible before the cargo cut-off.
The continuously critical levels of terminal yard density have an adverse effect on the port and gate operations, which result in lower productivity in the terminals and potentially restricted gate opening times that limit our ability to take in more units (both full and empty). Therefore, we are also evacuating longstanding containers to off-dock facilities if not picked up within reasonable time frames. Our Twillers will contact you if your containers are selected to be moved to an off-dock location.
Meanwhile, we are planning ahead while focusing on clearing backlogs and securing incremental capacities. If you have booked or intend to book inland transportation with us, please request a positioning date as early as possible so we can plan capacity requirements accordingly. For imports, we recommend you send us a positioning request more than 7 days before arrival. This can be done through our platform's “submit preferred delivery dates & times” task.
For more updates, please stay ahead on our knowledge hub and check our regular logistics news.