Transpac ocean transit times ease slightly but remain very high
With China-US ocean freight customers still having to wait on average 17 more days than usual for containers as congestion drags on, digital freight forwarder Shifl is warning businesses that ‘supply chain delays are far from over’
Original article written by Will Waters, at Lloyd’s loading list
Ocean freight transit times on the key major transpacific lanes have ease slightly in the last few weeks but they remain extremely high by normal standards and compared with just five months ago, fresh analysis reveals.
With China-US ocean freight customers still having to wait on average 17 more days than usual for containers as congestion drags on, digital freight forwarder Shifl is warning businesses that “supply chain delays are far from over”.
Its analysis reveals that “long transit times, berthing delays, and dwell time inside US ports have resulted in a total average transit time of 45 days in November 2021” from the Chinese base port of loading (POL) to delivery to the customer, “compared to 28 days in May 2021, an increase of 61% in the time that consumers are waiting for goods to be delivered”. That figure also even more inflated compared with a more normal transit time of 25 days and also compares with a peak of 53 days in October.
Transit time delays
Meanwhile, the average port-to-port transit time from China to the US West Coast port of discharge dropped slightly from 36 days in the first half of October, to 32 days in the 2nd half of October. But this 32-day transit time is still 68% higher than it was in May 2021 and double the usual transit time (16 days) it should take for a container from Chinese base ports to US West Coast ports.
The forwarder said transit time, berthing delay, and dwell time data analysed and published by Shifl “are a stark warning to businesses across the country that cargo delays are happening at every step of the journey, from factories in China to factory floors and retailers in the US”.
Shabsie Levy, CEO and founder of Shifl, commented: “Containers are still being held up at every step, even after they are unloaded. Berthing delays have been inconsistent across the year and in some extreme cases, ships have waited up to 33 days to secure a berth.
“Meanwhile, delays in containers leaving the port highlight the issues with chassis, and truck availability in the region.”
Berthing delays – the time between a vessel’s arrival outside port limits until it is berthed inside the port area to commence operations – are another factor pushing up cargo lead times for customers, Levy highlighted. Shifl has also been tracking berthing delays and delays in the clearance and gate out of containers “which are not yet showing signs of meaningful improvement”, said Levy.
Shifl’s data shows that berthing delays at the US ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are still hovering between 8-9 days in October which is an increase of 150% over May 2021.
It said there are currently around 78 container ships in the queue outside the San Pedro Bay ports waiting to berth and discharge their much-anticipated cargo, which it said “suggests that berthing delays could hold or worsen in the next few weeks”.
Dwell time delays
Shifl’s port dwell time data for containers, measured from the time of discharge at the terminal till they are gated out, also showed a substantial increase between May and the first half of October. “However, a decrease in this metric in recent weeks indicates improving conditions,” the forwarder noted. As of this publication, dwell times have returned to May 2021 levels, with average times for Los Angeles and Long Beach being five and seven days respectively.
“Container Dwell Times seem to be on the mend in the West Coast ports, while the East coast has been maintaining acceptable levels,” said Levy. “There are however still instances of extreme delays with some containers waiting for 47 days for delivery.
“And there’s a lot of clean-up to do still. Up to 15% of the containers have been waiting in the port for between 10-47 days, with the majority of that in the West Coast ports.”
Shifl is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Georgia, and The Philippines.