Accurate forecasts a constant juggling exercise

According to Michelle Horner, trade lane manager at CFR Freight, volume and container forecasting is crucial in ocean consolidation.

By Liesl Venter

As equipment shortages and inadequate carrier capacity continue to prevail, consolidators are finding it increasingly difficult to forecast accurately. According to Michelle Horner, trade lane manager at CFR Freight, volume and container forecasting is crucial in ocean consolidation. “It is extremely difficult to forecast at a time when equipment shortages and carriers’ space constraints are prevalent within the global supply chain,” she told Freight News. “The ability to accurately forecast container requirements on a weekly basis, while remaining f flexible and able to shift available equipment, is a constant juggling exercise.” She said port congestion and delays were having a severe impact on cargo lead times. “A multi-hub and loading station approach allows for internal cargo movements to facilitate cargo loading as scheduled and to reduce cargo roll-overs.” Horner said the shipping industry had seen increased freight rate pricing over the past nine months with global box rates reaching unprecedented levels. “Cost-effective solutions are essential as importers and exporters strive to move cargo as expediently and efficiently as possible. As a wholly neutral consolidator we are committed to our direct container freight station (CFS to CFS services), utilising available equipment and providing required solutions to freight forwarders.” Consolidators were under pressure to perform as equipment availability and the global shortage of containers had resulted in consolidation being an attractive solution as opposed to delaying shipments while sourcing required containers, she added. “We are increasingly seeing the sourcing of goods from non-traditional countries. Pricing, cargo supply and demand, transport challenges and country lockdown restrictions have seen importers and exporters sourcing goods from non-traditional areas. Consolidation allows for smaller, non-traditional suppliers and countries to ship goods in a more cost- and time-efficient manner.” Commenting on trends Horner said technology and the growing digital and e-commerce platforms continued to be a driving force. “Through our WorldWide Alliance (W WA) network we are able to offer technical and IT solutions to freight forwarders, ensuring global support. Ultimately, end-to-end solutions are essential in today’s market with importers and exporters needing real-time, holistic solutions, regardless of the shipment size.” According to Horner, the most significant challenge currently faced by consolidators is the space allocation on vessels, with liners advising on a daily basis that they are over-committed. “Transhipment ports and transhipment hubs have seen a surge in container and cargo volumes, which has the knock-on effect of extended working time being required for vessels and cargo and therefore resulting in further delays,” she explained. “Packing stations and depots are seeing high levels of cargo which is causing an increase in deliveries and collections which then sees the container freight station operations being impacted.” Horner said the supply chain was ever-changing and more than ever it was essential for consolidators to have the ability to move with the market.

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