A significant amount of goods intended for international shipping are transported over foreign waters by ships. There are multiple challenges faced by the maritime industry, one of which is container rollover. When the containers miss their scheduled vessels, they must wait for another sailing to begin their voyage. Waiting for their sailings, the containers not only occupy space at ports but also cause significant delays in the delivery of shipment leading to losses in the trade. Therefore, all the parties involved in shipping must fulfil their duties so cargo rollovers can be avoided and shipments can reach their destination on their ETA. This blog will give a detailed insight into the causes of rollover and how it can be avoided.
What is a container rollover in shipping?
The shipping industry accommodates the shipment of bulk and non-bulk goods through various modes of transport. Among the many transport industries, the maritime sector is responsible for carrying out a significant portion of the international transportation of goods. Ships are economical and reliable means of shipping large amounts of cargo across international waters. The shipment to be delivered is loaded into shipping containers to be put into vessels on the decided date to reach its destination approximately around the ETA guaranteed by the shipping company to the shipper. Due to many potential causes, this process gets hampered, and the containers loaded with cargo cannot make it up to the allotted ships they were supposed to be loaded onto.
Container rollover occurs when, for any reason, the shipping company fails to load containers on the booked ship and instead has to load them onto the next coming ship. It leads to a ripple effect on the supply chain cycle of that particular shipment. Vessel rollovers are a massive headache for the shipping company, shipping line and shipper since all their operations get postponed due to a few delays. But what is the reason behind container rollovers? Let us learn more about it.
Why does container rollover happen?
Any failure in accommodating cargo on the scheduled vessels leads to container loading on subsequent ships. It can occur due to many circumstances –
- Shipper-related issues – The shipper’s job is to get the appropriate order to the port and deliver it on time. Delays in the goods from the shipper’s end can be due to late manufacturing, packaging or quality issues, as they fail to reach the port on time for the logistics processes. In large shipments, multiple containers may be required; if they are not packed within time, the shipment gets delayed. Any missing documents or failure in payments may also cause the logistics processes to take a small halt until cleared.
- Consignee-related issues – It is improbable to occur when the receivers demand a change in the delivery schedule. When the inventories are overstuffed, or if there is any delay in the intermodal transport facility, the consignee cannot receive goods on the allotted time and therefore requests another postponed delivery.
- Truck-related issues – Trucks are a significant mode of intermodal transport for delivering goods to the port. In some instances, when the truck faces traffic or a delay in loading time due to a shortage of workers, it becomes difficult to reach the port within the given time.
- Customs-related issues – Customs officers can cause significant delays in the shipments in cases of any misdeclaration where the correct cargo details of the shipper and receiver are missing or not sent beforehand. Furthermore, if the cargo being shipped is restricted for import by the receiver’s country, the goods go through additional rounds of customs inspection, consuming more time.
- Freight forwarding issues – If the freight forwarder misses any timely documentation or fails to communicate crucial information between the shipper, trucker, customs and the receiver, it can lead to last-minute delays.
- Shipping line issues – A significant cause of container rollovers is the ill-management of the port and shipping authorities. It occurs in overbooking cases when the ships are too stuffed to load any more containers onboard, malfunctions and technical faults in the vessel that require time to be repaired, or picking up wrong containers for loading due to misplanning.
- Transaction delays – Since many parties are involved in the shipping of consignments, it is essential to ensure their payments are made on time. If it does not happen for any reason, the other transportation processes get paused unless the transactions get completed.
- Port Congestion issues – Due to unorganised planning by the port management system, vessels may suffer delays or be stuck due to port congestion. It takes time for congestion to clear and for ships to get unloaded and loaded with shipping containers.
- Natural disasters – High tides, earthquakes, and bad weather conditions may prevent the berthing of ships on time, leading to delays and chaos in the shipment processes, which may leave out several containers when loaded at the last moment.
What happens in the aftermath of a container rollover?
After a container is rolled over, it is left behind at the port facility since it failed to be put in for scheduled shipping. The container has two options: it waits for the next sailing with the same route to return and take it on another trip, or it can get loaded on subsequent vessels, which may take alternative routes to transship it to the designated location. Changing the carrier can be another possible option. Still, it is a hectic, costly and time-consuming process as the shipment must be unloaded from one carrier to be shifted and loaded onto another. However, these options will delay the shipment by at least a week or a few days.
Impact of container rollover on shipping
If the container rollover is significant, it could affect the entire supply chain.
- Delayed delivery – Once container rollover has occurred, the next vessel loading will take at least a few days to a week. It will slow the transportation and distribution processes worldwide, causing a ripple effect on the supply chain.
- Oversight losses – Shippers often undergo the problem of tracking their rolled cargo as the shipping lines fail to communicate the shipment status. Shippers experience loss of oversight as it takes about a week for the shipper to know whether their shipment is out for transhipment.
- Fluctuating prices – The shippers suffer the extra expenses incurred due to cargo rollover and therefore charged to the receiver, causing the freight price to rise.
Tips to avoid container rollover
- Avoid last-moment bookings – By booking your slot in advance, you ensure that all the logistics processes are handled promptly and the bookings are managed more efficiently. This way, any customs clearances or other processes issues can be allotted extra time and still not be late to board the ship.
- Proper documentation – Shippers must present complete and adequate documents to avoid any last-moment issues and delays. In case of dangerous or restricted cargo, additional documents are required, so knowing and completing all documents will help fasten the clearance processes. Therefore, it is crucial to abide by the regulations of the consignee’s country.
- Distribute your freight – If the shipper needs to transport a large shipment, it is better to distribute the loads to multiple carriers so they do not get caught in rollovers. Putting the shipment under different bills of lading is also a probable solution.
- Demand forecast – It is better to predict market demands to avoid shipping during the peak season when the ports are overloaded with shipping orders. Peak seasons result in high vessel demand, insufficient equipment supply, and a shortage of labourers. Therefore, filling up your inventories with supplies is better than transporting them during the peak season.
- Avoid transhipping your goods – Transshipments take a longer route and are unloaded and loaded at different ports, increasing the chances of container rollovers. Direct sailings to the destination port are a much better option.
- Opt for a reliable and credible shipping company – Before shipping valuable consignments; it is crucial to know the service provider by tracking their record of shipping. It helps the shipper stay relieved of any chances of container rollover.
- Working with 3PL and 4PL service providers – It is always beneficial to engage third and fourth-party service providers if you have a large shipment that can run risks of container rollover. These service providers coordinate, track and closely monitor the shipment process to tackle potential problems.
Container rollover is a concerning issue in the maritime industry that causes significant losses to the shipping parties and often leads to supply chain disruptions. Most problems can be resolved by knowing the causes of cargo rollover and adhering to the tips to avoid it.