DP World, owner of Southampton container port has issued an update outlining the root cause of the delays and their recovery plans to try and get the port back on track.
The main cause of the disruption at Southampton is the very high stack levels they are currently experiencing which is impacting directly on productivity.
The port claim they are working very closely with shipping lines and supply chain customers to address this.
There is an unseasonably large number of empty containers in their stacks, because many of the shipping lines are over their empty limit allowances, resulting in the empty park being full and additional empties overflowing into regular stack. This, in turn, is blocking space for normal imports and exports.
Some lines are also skipping ports to make up for delays elsewhere and, in some instances, discharging cargo in Southampton instead of its original destination. Adding further to the container stacks.
This unusually large number of empty containers, coupled with the normal pre-season peak volumes, has put additional pressure on the yard. Boxes are stacked more densely, limiting manoeuvrability, which means it takes longer to pick and load boxes.
The resulting slower terminal productivity and a lack of space in the yard means that some shipping lines are choosing to ‘cut and run’, and leave the port before all their boxes have been discharged or loaded.
Adding further to the problem there is a national problem with the UK haulage industry and a significant lack of available drivers.
After the August bank holiday, import dwell times went up by 40% meaning boxes are staying on the terminal for a least a day and a half longer than they usually do before being collected.
DP World are working with the shipping lines to reduce empties, limit transhipments, and get the containers shipped back out to the Far East.
The port has also extended weekend opening hours, waiving the Saturday charge and opening all day on Sundays at no extra charge. They are also talking to rail operators to bring in additional train services.