The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) has said results from a nationwide survey show UK ports are very busy compared to the same period a year ago but are adapting and redeploying resources to manage the surge in demand.
In a statement, the UKMPG said the results show that ports are “very busy but coping” as they adapt to conditions. Container terminals are working hard and liaising closely with shipping lines and supply chain partners with the peak of containers likely to have passed.
Furthermore, container facilities all around Great Britain which handle container services over shorter distances are working hard and effectively to keep container trade flowing as local factors such as pre-Brexit stock build play a role as well as the global situation.
The expectation is that the global dynamics will remain strong in the near term.
Commenting on the current position Tim Morris, CEO of UKMPG, said “There’s no doubt that the pandemic-driven events of 2020 have put huge strain on global supply chains.
“The situation we’re seeing at ports around the world has symptoms here in the UK too. However, the situation on the ground is improving with container terminals having increased resources, ports around the UK playing their part and through intensive work with supply chain partners.
“But just as container congestion didn’t occur overnight there are no instant, magic wand solutions. Ports and their supply chain partners will need to continue to work constructively together, demonstrating again the resilience of the logistics sector, to keep up improvement.”
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented volatility in the global supply chains on which we all depend. Whilst some of the impact is direct – e.g. manufacturing and retail activity going into lock down for differing periods around the world – a major influence comes from underlying changes in consumer behaviour, such as the rise of ecommerce and different products benefiting from discretionary spending.
This volatility has inevitably impacted the shipping patterns that are the main arteries of global trade. Ports all around the world, from Sydney to Los Angles, are experiencing significant congestion in shipping container movements.
Demand has surged and there are significant issues at Asian ports causing disruption at source which ripples across the world. This recent trend is on the back of global balances that have built up in the location of shipping containers following disruption to the normal ‘conveyor belt’ of mega-vessels moving between Asia and Europe or America.
Local factors in the UK add additional complexity. Businesses are bringing in more stock both to meet Christmas demand but also to beat the end of the UK’s transition period out of the EU.
The requirements of large volumes of PPE have played a role. And, inevitably, although the ports themselves have remained highly resilient and remain operational throughout the pandemic there is inevitably an influence.