In the beginning everything halted. However, as supply chains began to slowly click back into gear, there were massive network disruptions followed by sudden, unforeseen spikes in demand patterns that found some industry sectors barely hanging on for survival. There was widespread news of an upcoming boom. 2021 started with lockdown and ended in lockdown and it all seemed like a scene from the film Groundhog Day by Bill Murray. Occasionally, in between we did manage some valuable face-to-face networking.
Last year proved to be a very challenging year for shippers, but at the same time an exceptionally profitable one for ocean carriers and containership owners. Rising freight rates – both short-term and contract – along with a dysfunctional and occasionally broken supply chain built up more misery onto the shipper community over the past year.
In mid-February, Chinese New Year brought a brief glimmer of hope rates peaked and carriers began regaining semblance of schedule reliability – but then along came the Suez Canal issue and the blockage of the waterway for a week in March.
The demand from Asia-Europe supply chain flooded container hub ports in North Europe, and chronic ship delays and shortages of equipment’s rippled the world. Shippers often unable to pick up containers from chronically congested terminals, or return the empty ones.
Higher freight rates led to entry of new traders for the first time in many years as the the economic barrier came down. Several new services sprang up from old-fashioned liner operator disrupters that still understood the value of looking after their shippers as customers.
The outlook for shippers in 2022 is more or less the same, at least until the second half of the year.
2022 Omicron Chaos
Many seafarers are refusing to get back on ships and truck drivers whose concern over Covid-related border closures luring them for higher pay means that the transport industry is leading towards another roller coaster year of supply-chain disruptions.With the surge in Omicron infections governments are tightening restrictions, the logistics companies around the world, from global giants to small businesses are not able to find enough staff.
As per reports from International Road Transport Union, around one-fifth of all professional truck driving jobs are unfilled, despite many employers are willing to offer increased wages. 2022 could be another year of severe disruption, under supply and extreme cost for cargo owners. Virus has once again displayed it’s power. As the mutated variant (Omicron) takes hold, workers delivering goods on ships and trucks are bearing the brunt of a supply chain infrastructure in chaos.
Weeks of quarantine, along with the risky nature of crossing borders and fears of getting sick, people are refusing contracts while others are looking for work elsewhere.