Huge turnaround in where container dwell times bite

Former laggards now lead world as congestion now hits others

Huge turnaround in where container dwell times bite
Transport firms ease local container port congestion


Long-suffering Australian container-logistics chain interests wondering where in the global network the hold-up are have been given a strong idea – and they doesn’t reside here.

According to joint report conducted by global logistics platform Container xChange and applied research organisation Fraunhofer-CML, the global network saw a huge change in where container dwell times were the highest.

The average median time containers spent in Chinese depots in 2020 was 61 days but the rush to get exports to buyers soared last year, meaning it dropped to just five days.

China was not alone among leading exporters in seeing rapid box turnarounds last year.

Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia recorded average median times that containers spent in depots of nine, 11, 16 and 19 days, respectively.

"Once containers reach Asia, they are being redeployed at record speeds," Container xChange co-founder and CEO Dr Johannes Schlingmeier said.

"However, the mismatch between supply and demand at many origin ports, including in China, means it is hard for US and European importers to always secure boxes unless they have planned ahead, or are working closely with their box supplier, forwarder or container line, to ensure they have both a vessel slot and a container available in advance."

By contrast, severe congestion in many destination ports saw container dwell times at depots reach near-record levels in 2021.

Read about the global network’s continuing Covid disruption fears, here

The worst performing countries in terms of the average median time containers spent in depots in 2021 were the US and the UK which suffered average dwell times of 50 and 51 days, respectively.

The next worst performers were South Africa (47 days), United Arab Emirates (40 days), Pakistan (31 days) and Germany (25 days).

"Container shipping rates have bounced back after a slight downturn in the fourth quarter with the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index [SCFI] breaking through the 5,000 mark at the end of December," Schlingmeier said.

"Port congestion is a major factor. Jefferies Equity Research found that in November last year some 36.2% of boxship capacity was at port.

"Until that congestion is cleared, we’ll continue to have major imbalances in the supply and demand of both vessel capacity and containers.

"As the Omicron variant brings more disruption, with Chinese New Year around the corner and some ports including Ningbo already facing lockdowns, we are expecting a volatile start to the year for ocean freight logistics."

Container xChange was unable to supply comparable Australian dwell time data immediately but maritime logistics expert Peter van Duyn, at Deakin University’s Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, noted in shipping publication Daily Cargo News that, despite this nation’s own issues, it was about three to four days in local terminals "and the envy of the world".

Van Duyn pointed to container transport firms’ storage of containers at their own facilities as aiding that outcome.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ATN e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire