As widespread business closures related to the Covid-19 pandemic have shuttered factory production and hobbled freight transport channels worldwide, several logistics providers are now offering flexible programs that allow their customers to temporarily store container freight until supply chains recover.
The global flow of shipping has been snarled in recent weeks by the sudden impact of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in shortages of containers at certain ports and excess containers piling up on other docks, due to canceled containership sailings, travel bans, and worker shortages. At the same time, a global economic slowdown has caused a severe drop in demand for many products, at the same time that China is beginning to lift coronavirus quarantines and return its factories to full productivity. That combination of factors recently inspired Georgia’s Port of Savannah to expand its storage capacity so port users can stage their cargo until demand returns.
Now the mega containership operator Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) has launched a “suspension of transit” program, describing it as a flexible cargo service that allows shippers to pause their cargo at one of six MSC “transhipment hubs” until it is ready to be delivered to a final destination.
According to MSC, the program can save costs for customers by letting them control their storage costs at the booking stage, instead of waiting until it reaches its destination where they may face uncontrolled warehousing and storage costs, demurrage, per-diem, and other potential fines. MSC says it developed the program “to prepare for freight recovery and surging demands once the situation eases across the world.” In the meantime, the program can help ensure business continuity by maintaining essential services, thus contributing to the high-priority transport of essential goods like foods, medical equipment, and other vital supplies, the company said.
Likewise, the Dutch freight forwarder Damco has launched a “Cargo Rescue Program” in the U.S., intended to help ease supply chain congestion caused by the coronavirus impacts. The program includes a “Park and Save” option for customers who need short-term assistance when supply chains are congested, and a “Strip and Store" option for cargo without a functional receiving location.
Under the Park and Save offering, Damco will pre-pull laden Customs-cleared containers and store those containers and chassis intact in a secure location, ready to be delivered when the customer is ready. And the Strip and Store program offers a way for Damco to de-van and store palletized freight so that empty equipment can be returned, stopping the clock on detention and chassis fees.
“I am joining Damco at a time when our customers face unprecedented challenges and I am proud of my team’s initiative in developing these services to support them,” Mike Meierkort, who was recently named Damco’s Head of Americas and charged with overseeing the launch of the new program, said in a release. “DAMCO has a clear focus on delivering excellent freight forwarding solutions, which is proving invaluable as we work to find new ways to keep the supply chain moving.”