Hamburg, 01. April 2022

Störungen der Lieferkette, April 2022

Wir möchten erneut auf die aktuelle Situation der weltweiten Seefrachttransporte aufmerksam machen. Wie uns unsere Logistikpartner berichten, ist die Lage weiterhin sehr angespannt und eine Erleichterung ist bisher nicht abzusehen.

Due to Corona, global supply chains continue to be severely disrupted. Aviation and shipping and the European trucking industry continue to face major challenges.

The global situation around ocean freight remains tense and there are significant waiting times on a large part of the routes as well as a general extension of the overall transit times including pre-and post-carriage of containers.
Several factors are already known are at play here: in addition to equipment bottlenecks, container handling is hampered in many places by staff and capacity shortages. Congestion at some of the world’s largest ports is causing congestion of waiting ships, which in turn is throwing the individual services out of balance, as the ships are no longer operating at a regular circulation rate.

Local, pandemic-related lockdowns, such as the most recent one in Shenzhen (China), further exacerbate this “vicious circle.”
As of mid-March 2022, approximately 800 vessels were waiting outside ports worldwide, representing about 18% of the global containerized fleet. Local fluctuations in the number of waiting ships are visible – for example, the number of ships off LA/Long Beach has repeatedly ranged between values of 70 and over 100 since January – but have not yet had any lasting noticeable effect globally.

On the other hand, the Global Supply Chain Index, to which we already referred in our last newsletter, shows a measurable flattening. This index combines 27 individual values, including international sea and air freight rates and local transit times. Since a peak in December, a flattening of the curve could already be observed in January, but the values are still at historically high levels, so this theoretical relief is not yet experienced in day-to-day business according to the experience of our partners and our team.

Another influencing component is currently the tense geopolitical situation with the Ukraine war:
Since February, supply chains have been additionally subject to the direct and indirect influences of the Ukraine war. Thus, logistic services (Air, Sea, Road & Rail) to and from Russia have been largely stopped, and transit traffic through Russia has also been significantly reduced. European terminals have stopped handling goods to and from Russia, and the goods still in transit or now “stranded” in European ports are blocking flows and increasing the respective local workloads.
Another serious impact is a shortage of about 280,000 seafarers from Russia and Ukraine, which is about 14.5% of global capacity.

In Europe, there is also a shortage of about 100,000 Ukrainian truck drivers, which further reduces capacity – we already reported in our last newsletter about a shortage of cargo space and a shortage of drivers.

Costs increase: As part of the economic impact on the commodity market, we are seeing a significant increase in the price of fuels, such as marine or truck diesel. For sea freight, a corresponding increase in bunker surcharges or even the implementation of an additional surcharge can be expected. In the truck sector, our partners now almost universally raise diesel surcharges to cushion the considerable price increases; the cost rate to be charged is in some cases adjusted here every week to reflect the strong price fluctuations in the surcharges imposed.

A shift in demand also means that products normally sourced mainly from Eastern Europe and Russia are now being requested and sourced from other origins, placing an additional burden on existing shipping capacity.

Our Supply Partners in the USA continue to report a significantly tense situation at the ports, where in addition to long waiting times for ships, a considerable backlog of containers is also delaying operations. Due to the tight availability of truckers, we are told that it takes up to 28 days on the West Coast and a minimum of 14 days on the East Coast to organize the on-carriage of containers inland. Accordingly, the return and availability of equipment are delayed, which in turn also affects exports.

In general, U.S. imports from Asia, primarily of consumer goods, have increased over the past year. Following the Chinese New Year in February, there is now a renewed increase in shipping congestion off the West Coast ports, which as a consequence leads to blank sailings and thus a reduction in shipping capacity on the West Coast services.

Currently, the further development of the negotiations between the IWLU union and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), the employers’ association of shipping companies and port operators, is still unclear. The contracts expire on June 30, 2022, and in the absence of an agreement, there is a threat of a strike at the ports on the US West Coast, which would certainly exacerbate the already tense situation once again.

In Europe, too, there is still no significant easing of the situation. In Rotterdam and Antwerp, there are repeated bottlenecks at the terminals, delaying the unloading of incoming ships, and a lack of capacity for handling and trucking is leading to delays in on-carriage. The Port of Hamburg is blocked by a large number of export containers on hold.

In summary, the international supply chains continue to face major challenges, and a reliable forecast of market development is currently hardly possible due to the interplay of the many different factors.

We, therefore, continue to ask you to plan your orders and your stock with foresight and to send your call-offs with a maximum lead time of at least 10-12 weeks. We still recommend keeping additional and larger stock quantities to bridge delays in truck and ship traffic or resulting short-term bottlenecks.

Please do not hesitate to contact our team for further information regarding the individual transport route and the current average lead times for the products you purchase from us.