Twenty-four hour operations in the shipping industry may be the only solution we have to the big retail issues we are facing due to global shipping congestion.
The reality is the massive issues we’ve faced in 2021 look set to continue into 2022 unless we can find meaningful solutions.
While I think the time has come for a State Government backed Task Force to be set up to deal with long-standing issues within the product supply-chain, the introduction of 24 hour operations may be able to provide some immediate relief.
Most people understand that vessels and Ports operate around the clock, with shipments routinely arriving and being unloaded while the rest of us sleep at night.
However, once goods are taken off a vessel, document processing and deliveries generally only commence during regular business hours. While this would usually have little impact in a supply-chain that is working efficiently, in a system already dealing with congestion and significant delays, any extra time spent waiting adds up.
In the current over-loaded system, shipments are arriving weeks late, which places extra pressure on Port workers to unload faster.
However, if there are hold ups in processing required documentation, or in the goods being picked up and forwarded on to clients, the flow-on effect is huge.
We’re already seeing retailers struggling with empty shelves, the mining and agriculture industries waiting on vital parts and equipment, and consumers waiting weeks for items to arrive.
All of this costs the economy money.
If we want to avoid more of the same heading into 2022, all aspects of the supply-chain, including landside operations, should consider working outside regular business hours.
In the same way that retailers extend their trading hours and add extra staff to cater for the busy Christmas period, 24-hour operations across the entire supply-chain could be introduced for a set period of time.
Such a move would offer immediate benefits;
- Reduce Client Wait Times: If landside shipping staff can respond to emails, answer phones and book vessel space at any time of day or night, client wait times would be reduced. It would also remove time-zone issues, with WA currently three hours behind the east-coast due to Daylight Saving.
- Faster Document Processing: If Government Departments were to process regulatory paperwork throughout the night and across the weekend, shipments could be cleared and picked up sooner. This would also help reduce client’s storage costs.
- Increase Number of Deliveries: Trucks can make significantly more deliveries throughout the night, when traffic congestion is less. If businesses were willing to accept night-time deliveries, it would help spread the load and ease delays.
It’s naive to suggest 24-hour operations will solve all the problems within the supply-chain, however it would certainly add some breathing space while other major issues are addressed by a State Government-backed industry Task Force.
The cause of the continued delays and congestion are convoluted and multi-pronged, which is why any solution will be just as complex, but 24-hour operations throughout the broader supply-chain is part of the answer.
Alternatively, if we wait and do nothing, the economic cost will be significant, with numerous sectors of the domestic economy already feeling the brunt of supply-chain delays.
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