We’re Saying Goodbye to 2021, But is it Goodbye to Shipping Delays?

With 2022 now just days away, it’s wishful thinking to expect the delays and congestion impacting the product supply chain will simply disappear once the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

The reality is we have a huge task ahead of us to overcome the problems facing the industry, but if we at EES Shipping are to make any resolution for the New Year, it’s to be part of the solution going forward.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Stevedoring report released in November highlighted how the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 derailed the global container freight supply chain, and has been kept in a continuous state of disarray ever since.

We’re all too familiar with the impacts of this ‘disarray’, as 2021 has seen delays on basically every consumer product, empty shelves, wait times blowing out for materials in construction and mining, and most recently the agriculture industry left waiting for vital harvest-related equipment.

In fact, it was in May that we first started warning clients to think about getting their Christmas orders in.

If we’re to have any hope of this coming year being different however, then it’s time for a different approach.

We are tired of simply identifying the problems, it’s time now to bring together the best minds from within the relevant industries and organisations to form a supply-chain Task Force.

It should be led by WA Ports and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, and requires the support of key groups like the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, unions and port operators among others.

We need real solutions that won’t offer a band-aid to a system that is bleeding out, and will offer support to the entire supply-chain rather than any one particular sector.

A Task Force will not only secure industry support, but will be able to develop solutions on priority issues;

  • Industrial Action: While there is currently no industrial action at Fremantle Port, it’s vital that recent disputes between Maritime Union workers and Stevedoring companies are genuinely addressed, to avoid future strike action. The ACCC report found industrial issues have hampered performance at Australian container ports even before the pandemic, which is why it’s important for all sides to come together to ensure effective and efficient operations into the future.
  • Documentation Processing Times: Processing times for arrivals are blowing out, despite an extra $15million committed to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in the previous state budget. Streamlining regulations and improved communication from the Department would help speed up processing times.
  • Increased Costs: Pandemic related delays and bottlenecks have pushed freight prices, as desperate companies pay premium prices to guarantee space on vessels. Easing some of the congestion from within the supply-chain could assist in adding capacity, potentially allowing prices to level out.
  • Skills Shortage: A shortage of workers, exacerbated by WA’s hard border closure is also continuing to have an impact, with the Western Roads Federation recently warning the state requires hundreds more truck drivers, mechanics and train drivers, among other roles.

The ACCC report warns that failing to address ongoing issues will come at a cost to many Australian businesses, and the economy as a whole.

We’ve already started to see that play out throughout this past year, and unless we take action and start making changes you don’t need a crystal ball to see that 2022 is going to be a repeat of 2021.

Read more here.