As you may have read in recent articles, August is expected to be the busiest month on record for imports at major container ports in the United States and 2017 is on track to set a new annual high for import ocean volume. In addition, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air freight market demand grew by 10.4% in the first-half of 2017 compared to the first-half of 2016, making it the strongest first half-year performance since air cargo’s rebound in 2010.
With record setting ocean and air volumes, importers need to understand their options to ensure they are limiting impacts to their supply chain. Here are a few ways you can prepare and manage through this record breaking time.
STEPS AN IMPORTER CAN TAKE TO MINIMIZE CAPACITY IMPACTS:
- Advanced bookings– book shipments 2 to 3 weeks in advance if possible. While this does not guarantee space, it can help minimize the potential for late shipments.
- Provide forecasts – if you know your expected shipments volumes in the next 6 to 8 weeks, this can be communicated to the carriers so they know what to expect. Carriers look to historical liftings to determine pricing and space requirements, so if your future forecast varies from past volumes you should let your NVOCC or carrier know as soon as possible.
- Explore options between air and ocean – based on the requirements of your facility or customer, you may decide shipping a certain level of critical product via air help prevent inventory shortage, while shipping the bulk of the product via ocean can help save costs.
- Understand your schedule options – utilizing a company like MIQ can give you access to multiple carriers that have different sailing times / air freight schedules so you can explore various options as needed. In addition, other options are available including accepting bookings subject to roll. Carriers typically will only roll once.
- Paying premiums – knowing your cost of goods sold allows you to balance the risk of delays vs. paying container booking premiums to ensure critical customer shipping deadlines are met.
- Be aware of events at origin and destination – whether it be the annual Golden Week in China (the first week of October), or potential labor strikes at a destination port, these events can impact space availability, rates and how quickly you receive your shipments.