Global logistics threatens to bend under the strain

The exchange of goods via cargo ports is one of the pivotal points for global trade. The quick processing of incoming goods is essential to avoid freight delays. In some cases, delays are due to external factors.

One example of the past few years can be seen in Brexit and the resumption of import controls at the borders. However, this does not explain the current development. In the meantime, an increasing number of containers can be observed at important cargo ports in Asia and the USA, the goods of which have not yet been released for collection.

What sounds like a small problem is an indicator of much more serious consequences. If the amount of available products decreases, this will soon also be evident in online shops or supermarkets.

Having to wait for new goods to arrive again could develop into a habit in Germany as a result.

 Emergency solutions are not an option for medium and long-term planning

If the handling of containers in ports is delayed by one or two days or even a whole week, the question arises as to where the problem actually lies? The entire logistics industry today strives for speed. Full shelves, a wide range of goods and fast deliveries are facts that consumers have long got used to.

Another aspect is the employees in logistics. For example, how should a truck driver be paid who waits days for a tour that should have been completed long ago. It is a mistake to believe that we can counteract the looming crisis by increasing the number of employees in the ports.

Rather, it is important to consider the capacity of a port. How many containers can realistically be processed there per day and what are the limits.

The first companies begin to move production back to Europe

The requirement to use freight containers also results from the relocation of the manufacturing process abroad. This includes the automobile industry as well as textile manufacturers and numerous other branches of the economy.

The goods produced abroad must of course also be returned to buyers in numerous other parts of the world. The first companies have recognized the signs of the times in logistics and are starting to relocate parts of the manufacturing process back to Germany or Europe.

The proximity makes it possible to limit transport routes to roads and rails, thereby avoiding ports and the problems there. Time will have to tell whether this future model is an option for all companies in the long term.

Consumers must expect additional costs for goods

Regardless of which concept determines the logistics of goods in the future, buyers will have to be prepared for higher costs. The waiting times also cause more financial expenditure than the production of goods in European countries.

Consumption must therefore be interpreted differently in the future. Many consumers will make a lot of critical purchasing decisions. Manufacturers who produce cheaply and do not expect a long shelf life could fall behind.

Reacting with a certain concern to messages that are shown by stacking containers in ports must therefore be viewed with foresight.

Ingo Noack

Ingo Noack is german journalist based in Berlin. He writes on Interational and European Affairs with particular focus on UK-German and Brexit related topics. He is also CEO of Real Estate Company, Owner Ghostwriter Agentur Berlin, business consultant