Container ships arrived on schedule three-fourths of the time in the second quarter, setting a record for reliability, according to Drewry Maritime Research’s latest quarterly Carrier Performance Insight report.
Industry-wide vessel schedule reliability improved to a new record high of 75.7 percent in the second quarter of 2012, an improvement of 3.4 percentage points from the level seen in the first quarter of 2012.
Ship arrival reliability improved most notably in May and June, which Drewry attributes to the settling down of schedules that followed the large network changes in April caused by the new vessel-sharing alliances between the Grand Alliance and the New World Alliance and between CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co.
“The latest data for the second quarter shows that freight rates have increased (from a low level), but so has ship on-time performance. We believe this is probably a fair deal for many shippers – a more expensive but more predictable service,” said Simon Heaney, research manager at Drewry.
Another container industry analyst, SeaIntel, which also tracks schedule reliability, said carriers have been trying to improve because they can reduce costs by being more punctual. SeaIntel said in its Global Liner Performance report for June that better on-time delivery reduces the cost of demurrage and other handling exceptions.
Maersk Line and Hanjin not only maintained their positions as the two most reliable major carriers, but also improved on their first quarter performance.
Based on Drewry’s regular surveys, Maersk Line had its best-ever all-trades on-time score of 91.4 percent in the second quarter, up from 89.8 percent in the previous quarter.
Seventeen of the 27 major container lines obtained a reliability score above the carrier industry’s 75.7 percent on-time average in the second quarter, and only seven of the sample failed to improve on their score from the previous quarter.
Drewry also ranks reliability by ship operator (excluding slot charter parties). The results show that the most reliable operators in the second quarter were Hanjin Shipping, Maersk Line, Hamburg Sud and CSAV.
The Drewry report found that of the four main carrier Key Performance Indicators at the container level, two improved by a few percentage points in the second quarter. These were “Port-to-port transit time against schedule” and “Cargo availability at destination port.” One remained unchanged (“On-time shipment of cargo”) and one decreased marginally (“Shipping instruction and Bill of Lading issue time gap”).
The latest data on port dwell times shows that the ports of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nhava Sheva are experiencing very long or increasing import dwell times. This may mean port congestion inefficiency (Nhava Sheva) or delays in merchants taking delivery of their containers, perhaps because they do not need the products for some time.