A new Port Management IT system installed in Felixstowe earlier this year has adversely affected hauliers getting in to port and is now affecting another major UK port for container traffic: Southampton.

With containers arriving to Felixstowe in surges, backed-up containers were diverted to Southampton, where congestion quickly began to take a toll. The backed-up containers mean UK retailers could face weeks of delay in getting their stock onto shelves in time for the Christmas consumer spending rush.

Southampton and Felixstowe at Crisis Level

Whilst the congestion issues at Southampton ultimately trace back to the IT system errors at Felixstowe, a number of issues have resulted in the untimely congestion: Southampton’s decision to accept diverted business from Suffolk, an unusually large number of empty containers, normal pre-season peak volumes, a shortage of drivers for UK container haulage and poor schedule performance by the shipping lines have meant that both Southampton and Felixstowe have now hit crisis level.

The Impact of Congestion on Productivity

With some lines requiring two weeks’ notice of haulage bookings from customs clearance, delays are quickly increasing, and demurrage charges are coming into effect. DP World Southampton are attempting to tackle the issues by extending their weekend opening hours in order to deal with the container congestion and affected productivity.

Delays cause chaos for UK retail outlets

Multiple ships at both Felixstowe and Southampton are failing to discharge their UK containers due to running out of time in port. This has resulted in around 3,000 containers of Christmas market imports being shipped to Rotterdam, Netherlands, in order to discharge there. However, this means coming back to the UK via feeder ships can add a further 14-20 days onto delivery, causing chaos to multiple retail outlets around the UK.

The congestion crisis in the UK is also affecting other areas of the world, particularly in Northern Europe. If congestion at both Southampton and Felixstowe ports continue, UK shippers and forwarders are likely to face a difficult end to the year.

With the congestion issues looking to extend into the beginning of 2019, there is no time like the present to ensure your choice of logistics partner is the right one.

How ERA can help

To find out how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.