Truck and Track Autumn 2023

Truck and Track Autumn 2023 46 CONTAINER HAULAGE The container shipping industry has long been an essential cog of the British economy. However, the global shipping industry has faced an unprecedented reduction of container demand due to overstocking during Covid and, more recently, interest rate increases that reduce consumer demand. As the UK is an import dominant country, this has significant implications on the UK haulage industry. Successful hauliers in the container sector can be characterised as highly efficient, due to their high fleet utilisation. This is achieved through effective planning and securing the right balance of customers to maximise return loads. One type of return load is a “container re-use”, where after the import container has been delivered to the importer, it is taken directly to an exporter to be stuffed and exported at a port. The reason it is an optimisation is because a container re-use saves two trips for a combined import and export load. For an import load, the container does not have to be empty restituted and for the export load, an empty container does not have to be picked up from the port or a depot. However, finding container re-uses is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The dynamics of the container haulage industry in the UK makes this even more challenging. Container haulage can be divided into two key segments. The merchant haulage import market, controlled by shippers and forwarders, and the carrier haulage export market controlled by the shipping lines. Thus, access to reloads and container re-uses, ultimately favours larger hauliers who are able to contract with the shipping lines and get access to both import and export business. There is, however, an opportunity for all hauliers, even the largest hauliers, to collaborate and increase their margins. In the UK, export haulage rates are much lower than import haulage rates. Shipping lines, due to internal management accounting practises, can still find it more profitable to offer a lower haulage rate for carrier haulage exports, as they avoid exporting an empty container to Asia. This means that not all export business is particularly profitable, even for the larger hauliers who still rely on a certain amount of optimisation from container re-uses. Find the right business This is where BoxHaul, the UK’s first container haulage How BoxHaul helps hauliers maximise profits in the container haulage industry