Can U.S. ports measure up to carrier promises?
September 15, 2011
Daily Maersk, the Danish carrier’s new service on the Asia–North Europe trade lane, will dramatically change the way shipping is done overseas. But can the same be said for calls to the States?
As reported in LM, the engine behind Daily Maersk is 70 vessels operating a daily service between four ports in Asia (Ningbo, Shanghai, Yantian and Tanjung Pelepas) and three ports in Europe (Felixstowe, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven) in what amounts to a giant ocean conveyor belt for the world’s busiest trade lane.
Regardless of which of the four Asian ports the cargo is loaded at, the transportation time – from cut-off to cargo availability – is fixed. Daily cut-offs mean that cargo can be shipped immediately after production without the need for storage.
Maersk Line promises that cargo at the other end will be available for pick-up on the agreed date. To underline that Maersk Line means business and how firmly the company believes in Daily Maersk, the promise is backed up with monetary compensation, should customers’ containers not arrive on time. This promise is a first in the shipping industry.
But can such a pledge be made to shippers in the transpacific? Many analysts don’t think so. Given the relative inefficiency of U.S. ports (particularly at the strike-prone ocean cargo gateways on the West Coast), adhering to a fixed schedule represents a risk ocean carriers may wish to avoid.
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