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How Planning Helps to Avoid Shipping Delays

October 23, 2019
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In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. 

Nowhere is this more relevant than planning your next import or export shipment. Shipping delays are costly, which is why importers and exporters want to avoid them. Understanding what the common causes of supply chain delays and the impact it can have on your business and operations is essential for future proofing delivery success. 

Common Causes of Shipping Delays

Shipping delays are common in the logistics and shipping industry, however with good planning some of the most common causes import and export delays can be avoided. We have provided a list of common causes of import and export delays and planning tips to avoid delays. 

Common Causes of Import Delays

General Causes

  • Seasonality
  • Volatility like strikes and weather
  • Vessel delays 
  • End to End Management – misalignment between sea and surface transportation service schedules
  • Port Congestion 

Exporters and Freight Forwarders and Custom Broker Causes

  • Inaccurate Bill of Lading information and company endorsements
  • Incorrect Customs Declarations
  • Incorrect Licenses, Permits, and Certificates
  • Not obtaining Delivery Orders paperwork from the shipping lines prior to pick up date
  • Absence of appropriate Packing and Quarantine declarations 
  • Late filing of customs brokers/freight forwarder paperwork 
  • Late Payment of duties and charges
  • Not providing wharf carrier accurate container information or advanced notice of when the vessel is to be picked 

Shipping Line Causes

  • Not advising Customs when cargo is to arrive
  • Not reporting in advance impending ship arrival date to Customs
  • Not booking a slot before pick up date

Common Causes of Export Delays

Exporters and Freight Forwarders Causes

  • Lack of early warning of release date to the shipping company
  • Late or inaccurate Pre-receival Advice (PRA)
  • Customs requirements are not met

Shipping Line Causes

  • Confusion between container and release numbers
  • Sending Container Release details late to the container park, freight forwarder or wharf carrier 

Whilst you can’t control everything, some things can be easily prevented with due diligence and the right preparations. Hence, it is very important to plan ahead before proceeding to any shipping processes. 

Cost of Shipping Delays

The cost of shipping delays varies greatly on the type of business in question and the type of shipment. Here are some of the factors that can cost you when delays happen: 

  • Delivery Order delays and the speed in which cargo can be cleared by customs
  • Additional Customs and Quarantine costs 
  • Additional Storage and Demurrage Charges 
  • Detention Costs
  • Profit – Customer Lifetime Value 
  • Penalties for failure to report arrival, cargo and other associated information 
  • Business Relationships – Customer Retention Rate
  • Business Credibility – Customer Acquisition 
  • Meeting Deadlines
  • Product Quality (especially for perishable goods)

For large multinational corporations, a single 24-hour delay can mean considerable loses that can amount to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. This is why risk managers in these businesses do everything to mitigate such problems and preventing them from happening in the first place. 

Planning Tips to Avoid Import and Export Delays

In shipping goods, planning is a great way to reduce logistical problems that can cause delays.

Here are ways on how you can plan ahead.

1.Document and Paperwork Preparation

Allocating ample time to prepare the necessary documents and paperwork for the shipment will save you a great amount of time and spare you from considerable problems. Planning is needed to identify the type of documents that you need to produce, how to produce it, and the accompanying requirements in producing it. Planning ahead will also save you money on rush payments for document processing. 

2.Obtaining the Right Permits and Licenses

Some importers often rush into shipping goods hoping to close deals and reap profits in the quickest time. Unfortunately, this can turn into a shipping nightmare resulting in shipment delays because the right permits were not obtained. This could lead to the impounding of goods and other customs and quarantine problems that could push back the time for them to be released. 

When you plan ahead, you will have a clear picture of what you need to do to obtain the right licenses and connect with the right government agencies. This will help make your shipping process smoother. 

3. Plan for Timing

Seasoned business owners who have been shipping goods for a long time are very good at timing their shipments. Weather problems, seasonal delays, and socio-political events need to be considered to make sure that there will be no problems along the way. Hence, business owners should keep themselves updated on the latest weather updates and news on the countries they do business in and the areas along their shipment routes. 

4. Consider Backup Plans

Backup plans are significant in logistical processes as they provide a safety net should any problems arise during the operations. Planning ahead will give you ample time to design back up plans that could really work. Backup plans may include other backup logistical support, alternative transportation routes and emergency stockpile of inventory; depending on the need and nature of the shipment process.

Preparing Delay Contingencies

By planning ahead and taking relevant things into consideration, one can prepare contingency plans to make sure that delays won’t happen and that some contingencies are in place in case it does. You can put in place some contingency plans that shipping still continues to run even with some foreseen and unforeseen challenges. More sophisticated logistical planners know when and where to put contingencies. 

Contingency plans will also help soften the blow of shipment delays on your business, should they happen. 

The best way to avoid shipping delays is to make sure that you are getting all the right support from the most skilled personnel—from your management team to your logistical service providers. Making sound arrangements with third-party service providers can help you save time and resources, and will guarantee you some peace of mind. 

Contact us now for a free quote to prepare your documents.


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