Logistics Know How

Top 10 reasons for shipping delays

Shipping delays don’t happen often, but if they do, they can be extremely frustrating. Given the recent challenges in global trade, delays can happen and your cargo might depart or arrive later. 

Anna-Sophia Metzel, 02 June 2021

When you have booked a shipment, often you want to get it delivered as planned. Your customers rely on you and request your products arrive timely. They won’t be happy if the products don’t arrive on time or are simply out of stock. At Twill, we strive to deliver your cargo on time. However, shipping and port delays can happen, and we know this can be a huge challenge for many small and medium-sized business owners. 

So, why can your container get delayed, and how can you prevent your business from potential delays? Read our checklist to find out what might cause local and overseas shipping delays and how you can prepare for it. 

Reason #1. The pandemic and the ever-changing customer habits

Since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant effect on shipments and deliveries. As consumer behaviours have changed, they are shifting towards an increase in purchased goods and a decrease in purchased services. With that, many carriers are currently extremely busy transporting goods around the world. Especially trade lanes from Asia to Europe and from Asia to North-America are severely impacted. This is resulting in a lack of equipment and space restrictions on many vessels. While the situation continues, it is essential to follow the latest developments to avoid future shipping delays or at least compensate for them in your logistics process

Reason #2. Extraordinary events and external factors in the shipping world

Some shipping or port delays might be totally out of your or your logistics partners’ scope. For example, external factors such as the weather, piracy, wars, fire and extraordinary events. These are described as “force majeure”. Hurricanes, cyclones and many other natural catastrophes can happen, and unfortunately, they can have severe impacts on ocean shipping.

One recent example is the vessel blockage in the Suez Canal in March 2021. The blockage made it hard to ship cargo smoothly and without any delay. With about 12% of global trade passing through the Suez Canal per year, the trade route provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. And the blockage has exactly stopped this global trade for a week at the end of March. Now, cargo delays are continuing, and on top of that, equipment and space on vessels are lacking.

These factors should play a role when forecasting your supply chain. To prepare yourself, check out the different methods of supply chain forecasting and make it easier for you to prepare for such events.

Reason #3. Schedule changes and traffic challenges

Shipments might get delayed because of schedule changes or traffic challenges, especially when using Inland Transportation. This especially happens during peak seasons such as Chinese New Year or the holiday season. Many factories close for over a week during such holidays, with full productivity not resuming for almost a month.For instance, Chinese New Year can be a common reason for lengthy China shipping delays.   

Logistics companies, carriers and shippers need to deal with this demand and the subsequent backlogs and shipping delays once regular working schedules resume.Therefore, we recommend always including extra days in your schedule, especially during peak seasons where road and port congestions can increase more than usual. 

Reason #4. Issues at Customs

When you are shipping cargo internationally, you need to present various shipping documents. It’sneedless to say that you might forget about specific documents or fill them out incorrectly. Authorities might also check your cargo and spend time performingfurther inspections. Furthermore, you might need to watch out for possible changes in Customs Declarations with events such as Brexit interrupting global trade and implying new rules and regulations for cargo worldwide. This all can cause further port delays when it comes to the transportation of your cargo. 

To avoid such problems, take a look at the most important documents when shipping internationally. On our knowledge hub, we have compiled the most important ones in an easy-to-go-trough list for you.You can also rely upon our customs clearance services to help you navigate any unforeseen problems.  

Reason #5. Lack of clarity related to required actions

With every shipment comes a set of actions to ensure it arrives timely. When the container arrives at the terminal, there are responsibilities on your end and ours as your logistics partner.

At Twill, we try to inform you as best as possible, but there might be actions for you. Examples can be the delivery order, the Bill of Lading, shipping instructions or the VGM.

If you have questions, follow along with your shipment's milestones on our platform or check our FAQ for more information.

Reason #6. Inadequate technology

Sometimes, shipping delays might be caused by your logistics provider’s inadequate technology. This can be outdated software or long processes to book your cargo via phone and email chains.

If you are shipping with Twill, you can rest assured that we use the latest technology to transport your cargo quickly and track it. When booking with Twill, we are offer you various benefits such as:

  • A digital platform

  • Track and trace    

  • Simple reporting

  • Instant and transparent pricing 

Reason #7. Port congestions or port strikes

As already outlined, too many containers can lead to port congestion – either caused by peak seasons and extraordinary events such as the pandemic, by port strikes or labour issues. Such factors can result in weeks of port delay.

An example is the current port congestion when shipping out of Asia. Read more about the latest update on our knowledge hub.

Reason #8. Delays in the cargo production

Mostly, suppliers provide the shipper with a date when the production of their goods is supposed to be finished. Then, the shipper is planning the transportation accordingly. However, often the shipper forgets to add a buffer for such potential delays. This can again result in a delay for the overall transport.

Our tip is to always plan in some buffer for production delays. This way, you can prevent further shipping delays for your delays in the transportation of your cargo.

Reason #9. Rolled shipments

“Rolled shipments” mean that ocean freight cargo has not been loaded onto the vessel it was meant to sail on. This happens when carrier capacity decreases while the customer demand increases. Rollings can also occur when you don’t have the right documentation for your shipment.

Choosing the right logistics provider can prevent you from such hassle. You as a customer determine the urgency of your shipment. Getting a loading priority, an equipment and space prioritisation for your cargo can be the most efficient way for the most time-sensitive cargo.

Reason #10. Damaged cargo during transportation

Another factor that should not be forgotten is that your cargo can get damaged during its transportation. Damages can happen,even if they're rare.

At Twill, we don’t offer traditional shipping insurance but Value Protect, an affordable alternative to protect your cargo from accidents like fire, theft and bad weather. Value Protect gives you peace of mind: if anything goes wrong with your shipment, you will be compensated. It is easy to apply by container with a simple claims process.

What you can do to avoid shipping delays

At Twill, we are trying our utmost to manage expectations towards our customers around space and equipment availability at each port. We also inform you continuously about the current shipping situation,including delays, via our knowledge hub and email.

If you are ready to start shipping, you can log into our platform and sign up for free to see routes and schedules. You can also enjoy access to instant and transparent shipping rates when selecting specific routes to more than 300 locations around the world. 

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