It’s been a rough ride for ocean freight of late. Container ships wait for days to dock at ports, and labor shortages keep containers from being unloaded. Even once the containers are unloaded, there aren’t enough drivers to haul them away. And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, panelists at a Monday morning educational session at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Annual EDGE conference said.
In pre-pandemic days, ocean carriers could forecast eight weeks out; these days, however, forecasts are more like two weeks. “When we see four-week forecasts honored, we’ll know that things are getting better,” said John Janson, senior director of global logistics at apparel wholesaler SanMar.
But don’t expect ocean freight to go back to pre-COVID schedules said Joshua Bowen, senior director of trade development at CEVA Logistics. “Until consumption starts to slow down, we won’t see relief,” he said.
What can transportation providers do while they wait for the ocean freight backlogs to unclog? Steve McMichael, vice president of UPS’ Ocean Freight Services, said that creating flexibility is key. The panelists also suggested:
For importers and exporters, the panel advised:
“One challenge just creates another challenge in today’s market,” reflected Chris Logan, senior director of trade development at the Georgia Ports Authority. Ultimately, Logan recommends that companies sit tight as we wait for the ocean freight tsunami to ease.