You know what they say about assumptions…
I don’t know about you, but the definition of the word “assumption” that has served me best over the years is Oscar Wilde’s maxim, “ When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” In an article in Container Management late last year, MSC noted: “We can only assume that container terminal congestion at the main ports of the trade will continue to worsen, leading us to anticipate and incorporate longer time buffers in the schedule, in terms of port stays and speed at sea.”
You see the problem with assumptions is that they keep our minds closed, they can stifle our ideas and blind us to our potential.
Port congestion is not a new topic, it’s far from flavour of the month and MSC may well be right, congestion will get worse – bad weather, an increase in box ships heading to deep sea ports and a lack of sharing data between terminals and vessels. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are solutions out there, you just have to know where to look.
Last year Katsiaryna Kliuyeva wrote an article for the European Shipping Council saying, ‘Shippers are concerned about the ocean vessels sailing out of schedule and disturbing the planning of all the supply chain parties. When the issue is solved, the whole operation will become more predictable and assets can be employed accordingly.’
Ms Kliuyeva is spot on, the key factor is sticking to the schedule, because if all vessels stayed on schedule then then we wouldn’t be having this conversation and to be absolutely frank, the team at Intelligent Cargo Systems HQ would all be out of a job.
Port congestion may be an issue now, but if we start to think a bit smarter, start to share our ideas and our data, we could make a difference and maybe that unsolvable problem wouldn’t be quite so unsolvable after all…