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The Current State of Ocean Supply Chain: Is the Coast Clear?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant impact on the global supply chain, leading to disruptions and delays in container movements. The maritime industry has faced numerous challenges in addition to this, from port congestion to strikes. The question remains: Is the supply chain getting back to normal?

One of the major cause of disruptions in the ocean supply chain is port congestion. There are several reasons ports can experience congestion, such as weather, port issues, and wrong estimation of demands. The pandemic has only added to this problem, leading to delays in container movements and congestion at ports around the world due to soaring global demands, not to mention the many short-staffed ports as a result of Covid-19.

Port strikes are another reason why the supply chain can experience disruptions. We are all waiting to see how the port strikes will turn out in Hamburg, but we do not have to go that far back in history to learn from previous experiences. From September to November 2022, Felixstowe, England showed a great example of how operations can suffer in case of a strike.

The workers were dissatisfied with their payments, leading to a massive disruption in the port’s operations. Export dwell time reached up to 325 hours during the strike, while import dwell time was up to 225 hours at its peak. The situation improved significantly after the strike ended, with export dwell time now at 200 hours and import dwell time at 75 hours which is considered fairly normal.

It is essential to note that port congestion is a recurring event that can happen anytime, even without a pandemic. The supply chain may be returning to normal in some ways, but disruptions will continue. To mitigate the impact of such events, the industry needs to take proactive measures, such as investing in technology and improving communication between different stakeholders.

In conclusion, the supply chain is gradually recovering from the impact of the pandemic, but the industry still faces numerous challenges. Port congestion, strikes, and other disruptions will continue to happen, and the industry needs to be prepared to handle them efficiently.

It is crucial to monitor movements, delays, and congestion closely and to learn from previous events and historical data to take proactive measures to minimize their impact. By doing so, the industry can ensure that the supply chain remains resilient and robust, even in the face of unforeseen obstacles.


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