Here at EES Shipping we take great pride in ensuring that our customers receive the best service possible. In fact, we feel like this is the point of difference between us and other freight forwarders. We’ve even sat in front of many of you and told you the same.
This brings me to why I am writing to you today.
At the end of last year, and into the beginning of this year, we feel that our service was not up to our usual standards. Our nominated service providers let us down, and in turn this affected our service to your company.
For this, we sincerely apologise.
I wanted to take the time to outline some of the issues faced during this period:
Worldwide Supply Chain Inconsistencies
The spread of COVID-19 internationally saw the world’s population forced into lockdown. It seemed that, all at once, people were no longer spending their hard earned money on services and holidays – instead shifting to the buying of goods. This, in turn, caused a massive influx of cargo being moved around the world. Port terminals struggled with staffing issues due to the pandemic, along with lack of drivers to move the containers from the terminals. Vessel schedule reliability started slowly to decrease to the lowest point that we are seeing currently. More ships is not the answer to this issue – all vessels that can be in operation are currently in service. Stability at the landside terminals is the key, and this will only be achieved when more control over the virus is obtained. Cargo into Fremantle attracts it’s own set of unique issues with minimal direct vessel calls into our port.The transhipment ports of Singapore and Port Klang are at maximum capacity – which is only pushing the transit times, along with freight rates higher than that of our East Coast ports.
Transport in Fremantle from the terminals to your premises
Late last year we saw a combination of issues arise here in Fremantle. Vessels were arriving into Fremantle fully laden, with several “sweeper” vessels calling into our port, carrying only Fremantle cargo. Sweeper vessels are a dedicated vessel that is placed on a service for a specific purpose (in this case to try and clear the back log of cargo that was building up in Singapore bound for Fremantle). With the vessel schedule inconsistencies we saw several large vessels call into port one after the other (bunching), no chance was given to clear the cargo from trucking companies yards as priority was given to shift containers from the terminals before storage charges commenced. Patricks Stevedores also were under industrial action by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the go-slows and constant strikes certainly did not help the situation. With the Government mandates for vaccinations coming into force at the end of last year we saw some experienced truck drivers leaving the industry.
Are things getting better?
The answer is complicated. Experts are advising that the issues that are plaguing worldwide shipping will (more than likely) last for the entire 2022. Here in Fremantle the situation at Patrick Terminal has certainly improved, with the industrial action now coming to an end. Fledgling truck drivers are currently being trained with new equipment being moved from the East Coast in order to assist with the situation we are facing here. We are hoping that this will help relieve the pressure, however with the circumstances changing day-by-day, the outlook is still unclear.
What are EES doing to improve?
We are currently recruiting more local WA staff to ensure that our level of customer service does not decrease, given the problems that we are facing. All staff will undertake additional external and internal training to increase their knowledge and expertise. We are also aligning ourselves with local companies that aspire to the same ethos as ours. We never want to you to feel as though you are a number to us, just like we do not want to feel like a number to our service providers.
The roll out of a new industry leading online software (for a better real-time customer experience) will also be carried out over the coming months. If you want to be first in line, please let us know.
You may have also noticed that I have been in the local media lately, to try and increase awareness among the general public about the issues facing our industry. This education, via social media platforms, is essential in ensuring that everyone is aware of the complex nature of the problems we’re currently facing, and also what is happening right here at ground zero.
We have built our relationship with you, our clients, on a foundation of trust, transparency and communication. Please know that we are striving to do better this year. Despite the chaos and uncertainty that we continue to see, our top priority is to keep that relationship strong.
Please, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Thanks & Regards,