When you book a shipment, of course you want and expect it to go as planned. While we always strive to deliver your cargo on time, shipping and port delays can happen, and we know this can be a huge challenge for many business owners.

So, what are some of the reasons why a container can get delayed? Read our list of the top reasons behind local and overseas shipping delays and how you can prepare for them.

Reason 1: Extraordinary events and external factors in the shipping world

Some shipping or port delays might be totally out of your or your logistics partners’ control. 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 example of this was the vessel blockage in the Suez Canal in March 2021. With about 12% of global trade passing through the Suez Canal each year, the trade route provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. The blockage completely stopped this global trade for a week but caused cargo delays to continue well past that time.

Reason 2: 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.

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 congestion can increase more than usual.

Reason 3: Issues at customs

When you are shipping cargo internationally, you need to present various shipping documents. Sometimes you might forget about specific documents or fill them out incorrectly. Authorities might also check your cargo and spend time performing further inspections. Furthermore, you might need to watch out for possible changes in customs declarations.

To avoid such problems, get familiar with the most important documents when shipping internationally. You can also rely upon our customs services to help you navigate any unforeseen problems.

Reason 4: Lack of clarity related to required actions

With every shipment comes a set of actions to ensure it arrives on time. When the container arrives at the terminal, you and your logistics partner have different responsibilities.

At Maersk Go, we try to inform you as best as possible about what you need to do — for example, 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 FAQs for more information.

Reason 5: 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 Maersk Go, you can rest assured that we use the latest technology to transport your cargo quickly and track it. When booking with us, we offer various benefits such as:

  • A digital platform
  • Track and trace
  • Simple reporting
  • Instant and transparent pricing

Reason 6: 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.

Reason 7: Delays in cargo production

Mostly, suppliers provide the shipper with a date when the production of their goods is supposed to be finished. Then, the shipper plans 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 delays with transportation.

Reason 8: Rolled shipments

A rolled shipment means 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 loading priority, equipment and space prioritisation for your cargo can be the most efficient way for the most time-sensitive cargo.

Reason 9: Damaged cargo during transportation

Another factor that should not be forgotten is that your cargo can get damaged during its transportation. Damage can happen, even if it’s rare.

At Maersk Go, we don’t offer traditional shipping insurance, however we do have 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

If you are ready to start shipping, you can sign up for free to our platform and see routes and schedules. We try our utmost to manage expectations about space and equipment availability at each port. We also keep you updated about the current shipping situation, including delays, online and via email.

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