Overcoming Frustrations of Carriers’ Changing Schedules

Are you “over” working from home yet? Not only do you have to deal with a remote workforce and supervising the kids’ online schooling, it’s also hard to get any business done. This is especially true when you have shipments you need delivered—either coming or going. With carriers all working from home as well, you can’t get in touch with them about their changing schedules. After all, no one is in the office to answer the phone. And email? Good luck getting a timely response to that.

With the state of the world in flux, carriers are experiencing ever-changing schedules. That means your dates could shift after cargo is en route. And it’s challenging to get any real-time information from ocean carriers these days.

The Main Cause of Changing Schedules: Global Port Congestion

Due to the backlog of shipments coming out of COVID-19 closures, ports are full. And, unfortunately, this has resulted in constantly changing schedules. Some ocean carriers are extending transit times—in other words, adding a buffer—in an effort to improve schedule reliability while reducing shipping costs. As an example, Hapag-Lloyd recently added seven days to its Asia to South America route.

Experts expect these sliding schedules, as they’re calling them, to be in effect through the first quarter of 2021.

One of the biggest issues with sliding schedules is that freight forwarders tell their customers one thing, but when they see the official manifests, those schedules can be wholly unrecognizable from what they first thought.

Sea-Intelligence analysis shared that container schedule reliability fell to a record low of 44.6% in December. Of the 14 major carriers, reliability varied from a high of 55.3% to a low of 30%.

The Main Result of Changing Schedules: Lack of Visibility about Shipments

Freight forwarders are at the mercy of global carriers when it comes to scheduling of cargo shipments. CargoSmart found that the average number of schedule changes at European ports between July and September was 6.1 per schedule. While changing schedules don’t necessarily result in delays, they do make it nearly impossible for freight forwarders to provide real-time visibility to customers.

With a lack of visibility, there is also a concern that cargo may not be included in certain shipments as expected. After all, when shipments cannot be verified in a timely manner, problems can ensue.

Solutions to increase visibility include applying the Internet of Things (IoT) or even sensors to track shipments. This technology is not heading our way anytime soon, however, and we have to deal with what you have at present.

The Cyclone Shipping Difference

While we at Cyclone Shipping cannot change the state of the world, we are right here with you. Almost all of the ocean carriers are having challenges adjusting to the current port delays when it comes to transit times and ETAs. Whether the work-from-home culture continues for weeks or months, our service remains the same. While Cyclone Shipping uses all available technology resources, we also rely on true navigation skills that were obtained by serving as a navigational officer aboard vessels. While we can’t predict trans-shipment port delays, our transit times are second to none and much more accurate than what is being provided by carriers.

We understand all of this WFH stuff can be frustrating, and while we can’t help with keeping the kids focused on their Zoom classes, we can help with getting your shipments where they need to be on time. As always, we create plans A, B, and C to ensure we are constantly two steps ahead of the game.

Contact us to learn more about our customer-centric approach to doing business.