Container shipping companies kicked-off 2015 by offering their customers all-time record low schedule reliability, according to the Global Liner Performance report prepared by the consulting firm SeaIntel with data from INTTRA. The report attributed poor performance to both congestion at ports on the U.S. West Coast and implementation of new alliance networks.
On-time performance, based on when a ship arrives at berth, decreased to 67.8 percent in January on 10,762 vessel arrivals, from 71.2 percent in December, according to SeaIntel. Container delivery, a metric based on the “gate out” time when a container leaves a terminal, declined to 49.1 percent on nearly 3 million container arrivals.
“The decline in schedule reliability means that 2015 starts out slightly lower than 2014 did, but significantly lower than both 2012 and 2013,” said SeaIntel.
SeaIntel Marine Analysis.
Reliability in the eastbound transpacific trade, hard hit by congestion and the PMA-ILWU labor negotiations, decreased for the sixth consecutive month to 42.5 percent. That statistic was based on 1,125 vessel arrivals.
Container delivery decreased to a stunning 26.7 percent. Both scores represent a new record-low performance in the trade lane.
“There seems to be no end to how low schedule reliability can go, but it is clear that some carriers are better equipped to cope with the challenges on the US West Coast than others,” said Morten Berg Thomsen, shipping analyst at SeaIntel “With the labor dispute in the West Coast ports seemingly resolved, we should expect to see an improvement in performance later in the year, but it will take several months before the backlog is cleared.”
SeaIntel noted, “During January, carriers experienced that vessel productivity across the West Coast continued to be at a very low level, which meant the vessels were forced to anchor due to slow vessel turn times in the ports. The consequence was that the backlog of anchored vessels continued to grow in Seattle, Tacoma, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
That congestion continues as the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported that on Friday morning there were 32 ships, including 23 containerships at anchorage for congestion reasons in San Pedro Bay waiting for a berth in either Los Angeles or Long Beach.
However, SeaIntel said on time performance was also lower in January in the Asia-North Europe trade lane - 68.6 percent based on 739 vessel arrivals - and the Asia-Mediterranean trade - 68.7 percent based on 750 vessel arrivals.
“There is no doubt that shippers during 2014 have experienced considerably lower on-time performance than in 2012 and 2013, and 2015 does not show any improvements yet,” said Berg Thomsen.
“Global schedule reliability is a good indicator for the carriers’ overall on-time performance, but it can only be used as guidance. If a shipper wants to have the best possible service offering in the market he operates in, then the shipper needs to have access to accurate information on a trade lane level, irrespective of whether the shipment is from Asia to North Europe or East Coast South America to Asia, as carrier performance will vary widely between individual trade lanes,” Berg Thomsen added.
SeaIntel said for the sixth consecutive month Maersk Line, Hamburg Süd and CSAV were the most reliable carriers, with an on-time performance in January of 80.2 percent, 80 percent and 78.5 percent, respectively.
Berg Thomsen noted carriers that handle large amounts of perishable cargo as well as trade lanes on which large amounts of perishable cargo moves tend to have high reliability because of the danger of product spoiling if not delivered on time. For example, on the reefer heavy trade from South America to North America schedule reliability was 80.8 percent and from South America to North Europe, reliability was 87.4 percent.