Extended Working Hours and More Truck Drivers to Help Solve Pressures of Supply Chain

2-minute read

The issue of port congestion has been well covered in the media over the past year or so, but discussions generally tend to focus on difficulties in ports themselves or on decisions made by shipping companies.

Undoubtedly, there are significant problems there, but there are a lot of links in the supply chain, and sometimes it’s easy just to focus on the ones near the top that aren’t moving freely.

Steve Pugh, a member of Customs Broker and Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand, suggests looking a bit further down the supply chain.

Certainly, one area with potential to help smooth things out would be if more importers and exporters were to start taking deliveries of containers outside of normal business hours.

There seem to be several reasons that more companies don’t currently do this. Some receive a lot of containers and like to have staff on-site when they arrive to supervise container placement.

However, some issues could be addressed through good communication with trucking companies and providing out-of-hours and weekend access to sites.

It would also be good to see dehire depot operating for longer hours. With record volumes continuing to come through the ports, nothing can realistically be done about these often being at capacity. Still, extended opening hours for trucks to deliver and collect would go some way to help the overall situation.

Another issue is the shortage of truck drivers. Certainly in the South Island, many transport companies operate Monday to Friday. So if a vessel arrives on a Saturday, there is very little movement, which adds to the congestion in ports. Only the bigger trucking companies have sufficient staff to double shift a truck.

New Zealand has a major truck driver shortage – it’s particularly acute in Southland. The trucking industry is working hard to recruit more drivers, and the Government is supporting that through the Road to Success trainee programme.

A current example that may throw all these issues into sharp relief is that, at the time of writing, the Vaiga III vessel carrying around 2500 containers had just arrived at Northport, having been delayed in Singapore for some weeks.

No doubt this will be bringing very welcome cargo for the Christmas market. With containers expected to start moving out from December 12, there will be a lot of trucks on the roads to and from Whangarei that week, just as the Auckland cordon is lifted and holiday traffic is starting to kick off.

The Ministry of Transport is working with the industry to address congestion. Still, more practical solutions from importers and exporters, such as extended working hours and more truck drivers, are needed to help solve the pressures of supply chains going forward.

Source: The New Zealand Shipping Gazette

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