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UK’s Felixstowe Port Crisis is Yet Another Sign of a Collapsing Supply Chain

Thursday, 14 October 2021 | 00:00
Ports left and right are starting to feel the impact of the supply chain crisis and are showing signs of congestion and long unloading times. One of the latest “victims” appears to be Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, UK, which is starting to divert container vessels away, with chaos starting to take over ahead of the Christmas Holidays.

According to Mr. Alex Hersham, CEO and co-founder of London-based digital freight forwarding company Zencargo, “this port congestion at Felixstowe is the logical result of the ongoing HGV driver shortage in the UK combined with existing supply chain disruptions. The lack of drivers means that simply not enough containers are being collected from the port, whilst there are still plenty of units trying to be brought in”.

Zencargo helps the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture, and Soho Home, make smarter supply chain decisions. Earlier this year the company raised £30M – https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/10/zencargo-raises-42m-to-expand-its-digital-first-freight-forwarding-platform-internationally/.

Mr. Hersham says that “some containers have been sitting at Felixstowe port for double the usual length of time – between 10 and 20 days – pushing the port towards capacity. With Felixstowe handling almost 40% of all the containers coming to and from the UK, this adds yet more imbalance to Britain’s supply chain, especially in the current peak consumer period we are entering ahead of Christmas. Felixstowe has made an additional 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) worth of space available at the terminal, but this still isn’t enough to mitigate the congestion and the port is now refusing empty containers from several major carriers onto the premises.

“The upshot of this is that shipping lines may try to avoid dropping containers in the UK, instead opting for smaller ports in Europe where “feeder” ships can then ferry goods across the channel. This is the tactic that Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, has announced it’s taking to avoid the Felixstowe congestion, and businesses will likely need to prepare for more changes like this in the coming weeks”.

Zencargo’s CEO added that “one thing is for sure: whatever happens, haulage needs to be booked further in advance by businesses. At the moment, many drivers are only able to complete one out of their usual two drops per day as a result of increased driving distances to return empty containers to the ports that will still accept them. This means that the capacity of the UK’s limited pool of hauliers is reduced even more, and businesses will not only need to book drivers further in advance, but they may also be subject to last minute cancellations and fees as drivers prioritise competing jobs.

“Businesses need supply chain visibility now more than ever. Knowing where goods currently are, where they will be, and when, will help businesses to plan for disruptions and counteract severe delays. It is essential that retailers and consumers prepare for an extended disruption to the supply chain, and plan for what will be a Christmas heavily impacted by these issues”, Mr. Hersham concluded.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide with input from Zencargo

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