Vessel Capacity Remains Tight for U.S. Shippers


We have heard from customers about how challenging it has been to secure space on vessels leaving the U.S. this year. Exports have been booming compared to last year and now a container shortage has made it difficult to secure space.

In August, American Shipper featured an article about the causes of the recent container shortage that is leaving many shippers scrambling for containers and space on vessels entitled
Boxed Out: Container shortage short-changes shippers, though carriers and lessors benefit.” Reasons for the lack of containers include a slowdown in container production, cargo volumes increasing around the globe, and slow steaming requiring more containers. To remedy the shortage, factories are increasing container production, carriers are shipping empty containers to reuse around the globe where they are needed, and the industry is steadily improving the efficiency of container use.

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Is Your Cargo Moving? 3 Reasons Why You Can't Find Your Shipment

Between booking cancellations, slow steaming, and normal shipment disruptions, it can be a challenge to determine if your shipments are going to arrive on time. Online cargo tracking tools are commonplace and offer a first level of visibility, but can be inefficient for teams managing large volumes of cargo. And often, the cargo tracking tools do not offer much insight about a shipment’s progress aside from a date/time stamp. Here are three common cargo tracking challenges and ways to overcome them:

1. All Hands on Deck

Imagine how much productivity is lost in a typical import or export team when multiple employees track one shipment at a time to make sure it is moving according to plan. Exception management dashboards can help your team quickly sort through the mass of shipments and spot actual problems earlier. When all you really want to know is what isn’t moving, managing by exception can save you time to resolve real issues.

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Ease Your Carrier Performance Measurement Headaches

Recently, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) issued the results of its 2010 Ocean Carrier Performance Survey, based on confidential input from shippers. The respondents rated carriers based on several factors that contribute to the on-time delivery of a shipment, including “booking, equipment and space allocation, documentation and customer service practices.”

The survey results provide an excellent overview of top performing carriers from the perspective of shared commodity shippers. And it got us thinking – how did the surveyed shippers come to their ranking conclusions? How do they monitor and measure their contracted carriers’ performance across these critical areas?
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Managing Shipments in Peak Season - Will Your Shipments Arrive On Time?

Shipment Volume Rebounds
“We’re busy!” is what we have been hearing from a lot of customers, especially logistics service providers. In fact, shipment volumes through U.S. ports have increased 25% during the first half of 2010 compared to the first half of 2009, according to the August trade update in The Journal of Commerce.

While controlling costs, keeping inventories low, and shipping more, it’s more important than ever to manage shipments in a smart way through peak season. However, ensuring on-time shipments can be challenging with rolled shipments due to extremely tight vessel space, missed transshipment connections, and late vessel arrivals.

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