The natural ebb and flow of mass commercial shipping have been shaken by the events in recent years. Unfortunately, virtually every industry has suffered from the same problem, creating more issues like falling dominos.
But how did we get here? And how are we going to fix it? Continue reading this article to learn what the shipping container shortage is all about.
What’s The Current Situation?
The current situation is improving but slowly. Therefore, it may be easy to misconstrue that the shipping containers have vanished. However, they haven’t gone; they are being stored in many inland depots.
Large stacks of containers appeared at the end of last year in places around Suffolk. The Eye Airfield trading estate, Mendlesham Airfield, Melton and Ipswich Port. It is believed that these are empty containers waiting to be used.
With the unprecedented international shifts in commerce, the consistent flow of containers has stuttered. So now, ports like Felixstowe have an unpredictable number of containers filling up their storage areas. The most likely explanation is that these inland storage zones make room for new imports as their reuse for exports slows down.
With current heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver shortages exacerbating the problem, this vast logistical nightmare will take a while to get under control.
To best understand why shipping container hire in London is so high amidst the shortage, it’s best to go back to the beginning of the problem.
What Caused This Shortage Of Shipping Containers?
The disruptions in the world’s economy created by the Covid-19 Pandemic is the source of this shortage, but it’s not the whole reason. With national lockdowns making their way across China, Europe and the world, the commercial world was silenced. As a result, as early as June 2020, the cargo shipped decreased immensely.
There are many causes for the current situation, summarised, they sound like this:
A changed flow in goods. Peoples buying habits changed dramatically and became far more unpredictable. Additionally, the manufacture of goods fluctuated in response, creating many more problems financially.
Too many congested shipping ports. With fluctuating workforces, busy shipping ports struggled to compensate. The reduced staff in both the terminals and supporting functions (truck drivers, for example) caused heavy delays, missed deliveries and slower work.
A reduced number of vessels. Whilst so many countries slowed trade, and their economies ground to a halt, several ships were recalled for refurbishment and upgrading. While this was a good use of the downtime, the struggle came when international trade started again, and the vessels weren’t ready. It was challenging to meet everyone’s supply and demand with fewer voyages.
What Is Being Done To Fix It?
Many companies in the UK are working toward a more permanent fix to this problem, intending to return everything to the way it was.
Felixstowe Port is the largest UK shipping port, and they are taking the lead in collaborating with suppliers and UK companies to reduce these container problems. One of the first solutions is using alternative transport and routes to transport goods. But these alternatives can increase costs for these companies, so they seem to be a temporary measure.
The UK government has appointed Sir David Lewis as the supply chain advisor to tackle this issue. The shortage of shipping containers is directly related to the broader supply chain shortage and is one of many factors Sir David is attempting to fix. However, the advisor groups focus seems to be more on the big picture than specifically the shortage of shipping containers. They believe that the current port blockages will be alleviated by creating a more steady flow of goods.
In this endeavour, predictive models are being developed to try and retake control of the shipping schedules. Being able to accurately predict the ebb and flow of shipping containers from port to port will allow companies to be more efficient with their shipping and use their limited containers more effectively.
All avenues are being explored to fix this global problem, even the implementation of computer AI systems. MeetKai CEO James Kaplan has been approached to explore such technology.
With computer AI introduced into more comprehensive shipping, it is believed that these ports would run more efficiently than any human could manage. Additionally, predictive models could be developed much faster. The relationship between supply and demand would be tracked more accurately as well.
How Will This Affect Your Business?
The lack of containers available to supply the demand created a full-blown crisis as every industry struggles to continue unabated. As a result, the competition to get the ones you need has never been higher.
The leading issue with this shortage is the supply chain. These supply issues have created an unstable situation where businesses cannot guarantee fulfilling their obligations.
The businesses that purchase shipping containers struggle to find any within their standard budgets, but there is an alternative. Construction businesses have embraced hiring steel containers. This opens up far more choices to suit their projects and handles the removal of the container when they no longer need it.
But with these new government measures in place, it does seem we’ve started the long road back to normality.
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During our 35 years of experience, we have become specialists in offering Site cabins for hire and sale. As a result, we can consistently provide the highest level of service whilst continuing to monitor how this shortage affects the market as a whole.
If you need assistance finding the best container for you, please contact our expert team online or call us: 020 8459 6972.
With our catalogue of customisable welfare units, shipping containers, storage units and cabins, we are confident we have what you need.