BDP Trendwatch: Port of Rotterdam sees modest drop in TEU volumes during first quarter; Call to improve safe transport of lithium batteries; Rail regulators propose easier path for shippers to get service relief

China’s zero COVID policy to renew US West Coast port congestion

Remember the backlog of containers waiting to be unloaded at the United States’ Los Angeles and Long Beach ports last year? That’s set to happen again due to China’s “zero-tolerance” COVID policy, which has massively slowed down Shanghai port’s container unloading as well as domestic production for exports. Once the lockdown is lifted and economic activity once again springs to life, a pileup of products from accumulated orders will surge into the United States.

The Diplomat

Port of Rotterdam sees modest drop in TEU volumes during first quarter

The Port of Rotterdam has announced a slight container volume decrease of 1.4% to 3.6 million TEU in the first quarter of the year.

However, in terms of tonnes, the fall was larger as the significantly decreased transshipment volumes, which dropped by 21.5% to 6 million tonnes, led to an overall lower box throughput of 35.6 million tonnes, which represents a 5.4% fall.

"The average container weight was lower, and more empty containers were transported," pointed out the major European port.

Container News

Call to improve safe transport of lithium batteries

Airfreight and ship transport of lithium batteries needs to become safer to prevent fires, TT Club has said.

The international freight transport insurer said it is calling for increased vigilance to ensure secure and safe lithium battery supply chains following a number of recent fire incidents affecting container transport, ro-ro ships and air cargo movements allegedly involving lithium batteries.

E-commerce consumer demand for a wide variety of rechargeable products is driving increased shipments of lithium batteries, but these batteries now carry more energy, and aren’t always being tested.

AirCargo News

Rail regulators propose easier path for shippers to get service relief

Shippers - and other federal agencies - have pushed the STB to take action and address congestion and other service disruptions in the rail industry. Railroads including Union Pacific and BNSF have struggled in recent months to handle a surge in volume, and have taken steps to reduce the number of cars in an effort to relieve congestion.

Businesses and agricultural producers say missed switches, equipment shortages and major delays have in some cases led to production shutdowns. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked regulators in a letter last month to improve service in part by obtaining remedy plans from carriers and collecting more granular service data.

Supply Chain Dive

China launches its first autonomous container ship service

Chinese officials are reporting that they have put the world’s first autonomous, electric container feeder ship into commercial service after a period of extensive trials. The vessel, which was developed through a broad collaboration of Chinese institutions is reported to be a demonstration ship that will provide significant learning for the future development of the technology.

The vessel, named Zhi Fei (Chinese for Flying Wisdom) commenced its first regular voyage on April 22. The Zhi Fei is reported to be approximately 8,000 dwt with a capacity of 300 TEU. The vessel is 384 feet long with a beam of 57 feet and a depth of approximately 32 feet. Propulsion is reported to be by a DC electric system that gives the feeder ship a top speed of approximately 12 knots and a normal operating speed of 8 knots. The Zhi Fei was built by the Qingdao Shipyard.

The Maritime Executive

Maersk ups full-year guidance while warning box volumes are dropping

Like 2021, A.P. Møller – Mærsk is being forced to revise upwards its full-year earnings guidance. Unlike last year, however, the Danish carrier is warning container volumes could actually drop – another indication of the jittery state of the global economy, buffeted by war and high inflation.

In releasing its Q1 results today, Maersk, widely seen as a bellwether for the container shipping industry, upped its full-year EBITDA by 25% from $24bn to $30bn. Importantly for the overall container markets, Maersk also said today that based on volume developments in the first quarter, it had decided to revise downwards its outlook for the growth of global container demand from 2-4% to -1/+1%.

Splash 24/7

Hapag-Lloyd to equip entire container fleet with real-time tracking devices

Hapag-Lloyd has decided to equip its entire container fleet with real-time tracking devices, after successfully introducing real-time monitoring for its reefer fleet in 2019.

Following the installation of its Internet of Things (IoT) product Hapag-Lloyd LIVE on its refrigerated boxes, the German carrier will start to install newly developed devices to all standard containers of its 3 million TEU fleet.

“Going forward, we will be able to provide all our customers with real-time track and trace data, giving them full visibility of any container movement worldwide. We will be able to detect delays earlier, inform impacted customers automatically and initiate counteractions at an early stage. We firmly believe that our real-time tracking approach will not only be beneficial for our customers but be a game changer for the entire container shipping industry,” commented Maximilian Rothkopf, COO of Hapag-Lloyd.

Container News