Several major shipping lines are changing their empty container return policies. Some empty containers are now being returned directly to the shipping terminal instead of an empty container depot. Several empty container depot operators have issued statements that these new de-hire policies would be strictly enforced, and that trucks attempting to unload containers at alternative locations would be rejected.

Concerns have been raised that these policy changes are going to increase logistic costs and remove operational flexibility in the landside container supply chain.

Additional costs may be incurred by:

  • a lack of empty container slots at the stevedore terminal and the subsequent need to stage empty containers through the terminal yard with extra lifts and storage needs;
  • an increase in truck kilometres travelled and longer truck turnaround times;
  • a greater chance of late returns due to operational delays which can result in missed slots and fees charged by the shipping lines;
  • additional administration costs; and
  • direct to terminal de-hire fees.

Generally, container transport operators will recover these costs from the marketplace as they are not in a position to absorb these costs. There will be a lot to gain by ensuring true additional costs are clearly articulated to shippers.

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