May. 26, 2021

Ocean Trends Reveal When We May See Schedule Relief

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The writing was on the wall at the end of April: Ocean capacity would be scarce in May—and it has been.

The current market is a vicious cycle of supply and demand imbalances, equipment and labor shortages, port congestion, and vessel delays. After a year-plus of mixed demand signals, it can seem like there’s just not enough of anything: containers, vessel berths, truck drivers; the list goes on.

Without agile strategy, some companies could be waiting a long time for their cargo.

There's good news, too. Don't call it a comeback . . . but it looks like schedule reliability is on the rebound for the rest of the year.

By tracking certain factors, you can get a clearer picture of what’s ahead:

  • Transit Times: From departure to discharge, all shipment legs are experiencing extended transit times. Knowing the details of each leg helps you strategize around delays.
  • Port Congestion: Congestion tends to come in waves, even when it's consistently high. Take Los Angeles, for example: The number of vessels waiting to berth is flatlining, but nearby Oakland is getting busier. Track where congestion slows cargo to plan routes.
  • Volatility: Volatility complicates planning, but it can be measured. For instance, volatility on Far East Westbound routes is extreme right now. This info can help you choose your modal mix based on your company’s tolerance for the unknown.

After putting this data together, Flexport expects that schedule reliability will return to ocean shipping incrementally throughout the rest of 2021.

Many of the factors impacting reliability are too volatile or unwieldy to change overnight, but data-driven outlooks can help predict how the market may evolve.

Watch Logistics Rewired: Let's Talk Ocean to learn more about current capacity trends and find solutions your company can use now.


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