Europe-Asia and Europe-North America services are currently subject to continuous delays, primarily due to issues with their European rotation. We've seen that even the slightest delay in services through Europe – caused by the likes of terminal congestion, high waiting times, extended import container dwell times, inland bottlenecks and shortened capacity, demand surges, labour shortages and more – can result in a domino effect of disruption across the network. Hotspots for disruption are a moving target, but we are doing all in our power to stay on top of the situation and minimise disruption for customers.
To combat the situation, Maersk is deploying additional vessels that avoid congested terminals and shorten the distance between departure weeks on North America-Europe services. This means cargo can keep moving even when the ripple effect of delays has created large gaps in the service. We will also investigate the possibility of consolidating port calls to reduce lengthy vessel stops and help alleviate further pressure on the overall network. Elsewhere, we are helping customers pick up their import boxes faster at congested ports, creating more off-dock storage for containers, assessing alternative routes for cargo, maximising schedule efficiency and adding support in the form of landside transport to keep cargo moving.
We encourage customers to analyse their production schedules for the coming months and work with Maersk teams to plan appropriately, including potentially finding alternative routes or using warehousing options to avoid further supply chain disruption. We also ask that customers pick up full inbound units as quickly as possible and make empty containers available for exports. Please also return full export containers as late as possible before cargo cut-off times. Import customers may have to pick up their boxes from a location other than the terminal, but this will be communicated through your local Customer Experience representative.
While the first contingency plans are currently in motion, the situation is expected to remain critical in the coming weeks and with little change of improvement in the medium term. We anticipate an improvement after the summer months when labour levels return to normal. However, we will then enter winter disruptions and Christmas contingencies – increasing the importance of effective forward-planning on your supply chain. Click here to reach out to your local Maersk team.
Key Ports Update
Terminal congestion and high yard density levels continue to cause disruptions across northern ports in Europe. This is due to a multitude of factors combining to have a ripple effect on operations, including holiday season labour shortages, industry strike action, high dwell on import and export cargo, demand surges into European ports, inland bottlenecks and more.
Maersk teams are analysing every avenue that could alleviate these issues in the short and long term to give customers more consistency and predictability in their supply chains. Our first contingency plans are now in operation at severely congested ports like Hamburg – including mapping new solutions with alternative ports and procuring extra landside transportation for support.
As major ports continue to be subject to disruption, customers should expect delays in shipments through major terminals in the region. Maersk will be doing all in its power to combat the circumstances and give customers all the information needed to manage their supply chain effectively, but we also encourage reaching out to Maersk Customer Experience to discuss diverting cargo around congestion and planning ahead to alleviate any potential issues.
Maersk expects the widespread reduction in labour to continue being an issue throughout the summer months, while strike action will remain an eminent risk across the region. An eight-day strike has been announced at Felixstowe, UK, from 21-29 August. Keep up with the latest developments on the situation and Maersk’s contingency measures here.
Our teams will be constantly evaluating the market situation and acting to minimise the disruption to customers. Click here for more information on key European ports.
Air Freight Update
Although global supply chain pressure has been decreasing, it continues to remain at historically high levels. Airlines are facing staff shortages, leading to flight cancellations and re-routes, while rates continue to be impacted by increased passenger capacity and jet fuel costs. While there are no capacity issues at present, the market remains unstable and complex to predict.
China’s zero-Covid policies and sanctions on Russian carriers have led to volume and capacity reductions in Europe, with imports to Europe from Asia seeing the largest reductions in volume globally due to re-routing shipments through the Middle East.
To address these challenges and provide a reliable alternative for cargo in the wake of widespread supply chain disruption in Europe, we are utilising our own controlled air freight network and working on plans for further expansion. In terms of rates, an increasing number of flights and the easing of Covid restrictions support a reduction of rates, however, the increasing fuel prices delay a reduction.
A full recovery of rates to 2019 levels seems highly unlikely, and overall developments are complex to predict. While passenger capacity continues to increase, air freight remains dependent on freighter aircraft capacity. For more on our air network and expansion, click here.
In recent weeks, across Europe, we have seen disruptions in rail transport caused by line maintenance and construction, labour shortages and disruptions in ports having a knock-on effect on rail services. In some cases, trains are not handled, and booked time windows are not adhered to or are changed/cancelled at short notice, resulting in train cancellations and a cargo backlog. These issues are exacerbated by structural driver shortages in Europe, fuel rate increases and a pressed ocean network.
To combat the circumstances, Maersk has procured additional rail capacity across the European network and is developing Intra-European long-haul rail products (IER). The alternative IER solution can help customers overcome current pains of haulage availability and accelerate carbon-neutral logistics, while maintaining cost predictability, a high degree of flexibility and supply chain speed in multimodal options.
Building a green, managed and integrated multimodal product to and from hubs will allow us to connect rail transportation to our warehouse and distribution facilities. The IER solution will support the future of these omnichannel hubs and provide the opportunity to connect our full integrator capabilities – including multimodal options, control tower management, flow warehousing and other modular value propositions. We will be communicating full details of the solution with customers as soon as possible.
For barge transportation, we are witnessing frequent delays due to long waiting times at ocean terminals and continuous ETA changes of mainline vessels. This affects barge berthing windows and subsequently barge schedules, leading to re-bookings and a cargo backlog. On top of this, the ongoing energy crisis has triggered an enormous barge capacity demand for the transport of coal to power stations.
The situation is aggravated by low water on the Rhine, caused by the prevailing high temperatures coupled with a lack of rainfall. This translates into less barge capacity and further interferes with inland waterway transportation to and from destinations connected to the Rhine.
Maersk teams continue to investigate additional and alternative transport options to minimise delays to your shipments. Plus, in order to evacuate vital grain from Ukraine, barge capacity is being redirected through the Danube River.
Maersk E-Delivery Update
Consumer spending on non-essential goods continues to trend downwards in Q2 2022, leaving more online sellers with higher working capital and lower e-commerce growth than projected. For example, Q2 2022 in Germany saw negative growth of -24% compared to the same period in 2021.
This is due to high inflation rates, limited consumer spending and higher interest in the service industry (entertainment, travel) in light of an open summer without pandemic restrictions. Labour costs are also rising due to a shortage of staff and inflation rates, adding pressure on companies with Europe-wide fulfilment networks to remain profitable.
Maersk E-Delivery is keeping a close eye on developments across Europe and tracking labour shortages country by country. With this information, we're able to plan ahead and re-route deliveries where necessary to ensure lead times between 2-4 days on cross-border deliveries. Head to the E-delivery portal here.
As we approach retail peak season in Europe, strong promotions are expected to bring e-commerce growth levels back to normal. However, disruptions to last-mile supply chains aren't expected to be resolved immediately, which means planning is required to ensure consumer satisfaction. Plus, given the high inflation rates, consumers are expected to look for cheaper products from foreign countries with reduced delivery costs – making a single integration of last-mile services across borders in Europe all the more important.
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