Detours, Disputes, and Déjà Vu: Just Another Week in the Supply Chain

Detours, Disputes, and Déjà Vu: Just Another Week in the Supply Chain

Ready for this week's supply chain saga? It's a doozy despite the short week! Thanks to the Red Sea drama, ships are taking the scenic route, jacking up rates to over $7,000 per container. Canadian rail workers are itching to strike, with a whopping 98% now giving the thumbs up and making North American industries and supply chains quite nervous. Regional Rail's playing Monopoly in Ohio, snagging 70 miles of new track after acquiring Cincinnati Eastern Railroad. Baltimore's port got another scare when a ship briefly lost power — talk about déjà vu. And while more containers move domestically, carriers aren't seeing the payoff thanks to those pesky low-ball contracts. So hang tight, and let’s unpack the craziness.

How Rising Ocean Rates Are Shaking Up Global Supply Chains

Ocean shipping rates are soaring, and everyone's feeling the pinch. From congested ports to rerouted vessels, the current maritime saga is a tale of high costs and strategic headaches for shippers worldwide as freight costs from Asia to the U.S. flirt with record highs.

The Crisis at Sea: Vessel Attacks and Strategic Diversions

The Red Sea crisis has upended global shipping, forcing vessels to detour around Africa and adding 2-3 weeks of travel while inflating costs. Shippers are feeling the pinch, with spot rates more than doubling since January — now $7,052 per FEU to the U.S. West Coast and $8,253 to the East Coast. While not yet hitting pandemic highs of $10,000+, these steep increases are squeezing the industry's profits and have widespread impacts.

Adapting to New Shipping Realities

As shipping giants like Maersk scramble to adapt, CEO Vincent Clerc reveals they're redeploying ships and optimizing fleets. However, it's not a perfect solution. According to Drewry, the industry is leaning heavily on blank sailings, with over half of recent cancellations hitting Transpacific Eastbound routes. Compounded by Panama Canal constraints and shifting energy policies, these challenges demand agility from shippers. Brian Bourke of Seko Logistics aptly compares securing shipping capacity now to hailing an Uber during rush hour—expensive and competitive but necessary. That in a nutshell is why shippers must enhance visibility, adjust forecasts, and communicate proactively.

On the Brink: Canadian Rail Workers Vote to Strike Amid Contract Talks

Canadian rail workers stand firm in their demand for a fair labor deal and overwhelmingly support a strike. So, as all parties involved seek a solution with the supply chain hanging by a thread, here's where things stand:

The Countdown to a Potential Strike

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference members overwhelmingly back potential strike action and have Canada's rail sector quaking in their boots. 98.6% of Canadian National and CP Kansas City Southern voters support a walkout, with their contract expiring on December 31, 2023. While not an immediate strike call, the vote puts nearly 9,200 workers in a position to disrupt Canada's logistics network if talks break down. The industry remains on edge despite Labour Minister O'Regan's May intervention requesting a safety review, which temporarily halted the action.

The Impasse: What's at Stake?

Rail workers are at a breaking point, with talks stalling since November. Nearly 10,000 employees from CPKC and Canadian National are ready to walk off the job if the industry fails to meet their demands: better pay, safer conditions, and better fatigue management strategies. A strike could derail Canada's supply chain, threatening everything from food deliveries to fuel supplies. As the government weighs its options, the clock is ticking. Rail workers have a 60-day window to strike, and the whole country is holding its breath during this high-stakes game of chicken.

Regional Rail Expands Its Reach with Cincinnati Eastern Railroad Acquisition

Regional Rail's latest power move? Acquiring Cincinnati Eastern Railroad. This move isn't just about adding more tracks — it's a bold leap into the Midwest that could shake up the freight game: more routes, happier customers, and considerable potential.

Strengthening Regional Services and Customer Ties

It's full steam ahead for Regional Rail's Midwest expansion. The 70-mile Cincinnati Eastern Railroad is the company's 16th acquisition and seventh clustered in the Ohio-Indiana-Illinois triangle. Running between Clare and Mineral Springs on Norfolk Southern tracks, it hauls everything from rocks to food to paper. CEO Al Sauer sees golden opportunities in this strategic move, which promises smoother supply chains and better service for Midwest customers.  

A Vision for Growth and Community Partnership

Thanks to 3i Group's financial support, Regional Rail has grown from a small operation with just three railroads into a major player in both the U.S. and Canadian markets. Rob Collins, 3i's managing partner, sees this latest acquisition as more than a financial move. It aligns with their strategy of empowering local management, nurturing community relationships, and strengthening connections with Class I railroad partners.

Power Losses Challenge Cargo Ships at Port of Baltimore Yet Again

Just as we’re set to turn the page on the Key Bridge collapse, the Port of Baltimore witnessed another unsettling incident this week as the Liberia-flagged container ship Bellavia briefly lost power while exiting the port. Is it yet another risk to the port, or are these types of incidents more common than we realize?  

A Close Call at Baltimore: The Bellavia Incident

Around 2:30 a.m. on July 1, the 965-foot Bellavia had a heart-stopping moment when its engines suddenly quit. The ghost of March's Dali disaster — where a powerless ship smashed into Baltimore's Key Bridge, killing six — loomed large. But unlike its ill-fated predecessor, the Bellavia rallied, regaining power and limping back to port solo. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is digging deep, probing both ships' guts — from wiring to terminal blocks — to crack the code on these maritime power failures and keep our waters safer.

Understanding and Mitigating Power Loss in Maritime Operations

While ships losing power is quite unsettling, surprisingly, it happens more often than you might realize: ships have lost power about two dozen times in the past three years while entering or leaving ports. The culprit? It's a perfect storm of engine strain and fuel transitions as vessels swap from heavy fuel oil to lighter, eco-friendly options near shore. So, naturally, engines can hiccup, sometimes spectacularly, as seen with The Bellavia's recent scare. That’s why the maritime industry responds with a triple threat of rigorous crew training, relentless maintenance, and a hard look at fuel strategies.  

Domestic Intermodal Volumes Rise, But Revenue Stagnates in Q2

Lastly, intermodal transit is playing a tricky game in 2024. Volumes were up a healthy 3% to 4% in Q2, but the cash registers aren't singing along. Why? "More" doesn't always mean “more” in logistics. While more containers are chugging down the tracks, they're doing it cheaply as intermodal providers tighten their belts.

The Volume-Revenue Disconnect

Intermodal providers face a conundrum: surging domestic container volumes, especially on key LA routes to Atlanta and Chicago, aren't boosting profits due to a 3-6% drop in contractual rates. Post-pandemic market stabilization has eliminated the hefty surcharges of 2020-2021, leaving financial statements lukewarm despite strong volume reports from IANA, AAR, and the Journal of Commerce. Moreover, this year's peak season looks tame, with only a potential modest LA surcharge on the horizon—a far cry from recent years.

Looking Ahead: Contract Negotiations and Market Predictions

Looking ahead to 2025, industry insiders predict a potential 1-5% uptick in contract prices if current volume growth holds. However, it hinges on international cargo recovery and its impact on domestic rates. With intermodal providers merely replacing aging units rather than expanding fleets, carriers might gain negotiating power if demand stays strong. Shippers and providers must now walk a tightrope, balancing operations and finances in a stabilizing market that remains unpredictable. It's game on for the second half of 2024.

Riding Out the Supply Chain Storm with Vizion

This week's been a wild ride from ships playing dodge in the Red Sea to rail workers ready to hit the brakes. But don't worry — while Vizion can't calm the seas or smooth-talk unions, it can help you stay on top of it all with container tracking, global trade management, end-to-end supply chain visibility, and more:

Ready to take your logistics management to the next level? Book a demo with Vizion API today and experience the future of efficient and informed shipping and rail operations.

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Detours, Disputes, and Déjà Vu: Just Another Week in the Supply Chain

July 10, 2024
Supply Chain

Ready for this week's supply chain saga? It's a doozy despite the short week! Thanks to the Red Sea drama, ships are taking the scenic route, jacking up rates to over $7,000 per container. Canadian rail workers are itching to strike, with a whopping 98% now giving the thumbs up and making North American industries and supply chains quite nervous. Regional Rail's playing Monopoly in Ohio, snagging 70 miles of new track after acquiring Cincinnati Eastern Railroad. Baltimore's port got another scare when a ship briefly lost power — talk about déjà vu. And while more containers move domestically, carriers aren't seeing the payoff thanks to those pesky low-ball contracts. So hang tight, and let’s unpack the craziness.

How Rising Ocean Rates Are Shaking Up Global Supply Chains

Ocean shipping rates are soaring, and everyone's feeling the pinch. From congested ports to rerouted vessels, the current maritime saga is a tale of high costs and strategic headaches for shippers worldwide as freight costs from Asia to the U.S. flirt with record highs.

The Crisis at Sea: Vessel Attacks and Strategic Diversions

The Red Sea crisis has upended global shipping, forcing vessels to detour around Africa and adding 2-3 weeks of travel while inflating costs. Shippers are feeling the pinch, with spot rates more than doubling since January — now $7,052 per FEU to the U.S. West Coast and $8,253 to the East Coast. While not yet hitting pandemic highs of $10,000+, these steep increases are squeezing the industry's profits and have widespread impacts.

Adapting to New Shipping Realities

As shipping giants like Maersk scramble to adapt, CEO Vincent Clerc reveals they're redeploying ships and optimizing fleets. However, it's not a perfect solution. According to Drewry, the industry is leaning heavily on blank sailings, with over half of recent cancellations hitting Transpacific Eastbound routes. Compounded by Panama Canal constraints and shifting energy policies, these challenges demand agility from shippers. Brian Bourke of Seko Logistics aptly compares securing shipping capacity now to hailing an Uber during rush hour—expensive and competitive but necessary. That in a nutshell is why shippers must enhance visibility, adjust forecasts, and communicate proactively.

On the Brink: Canadian Rail Workers Vote to Strike Amid Contract Talks

Canadian rail workers stand firm in their demand for a fair labor deal and overwhelmingly support a strike. So, as all parties involved seek a solution with the supply chain hanging by a thread, here's where things stand:

The Countdown to a Potential Strike

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference members overwhelmingly back potential strike action and have Canada's rail sector quaking in their boots. 98.6% of Canadian National and CP Kansas City Southern voters support a walkout, with their contract expiring on December 31, 2023. While not an immediate strike call, the vote puts nearly 9,200 workers in a position to disrupt Canada's logistics network if talks break down. The industry remains on edge despite Labour Minister O'Regan's May intervention requesting a safety review, which temporarily halted the action.

The Impasse: What's at Stake?

Rail workers are at a breaking point, with talks stalling since November. Nearly 10,000 employees from CPKC and Canadian National are ready to walk off the job if the industry fails to meet their demands: better pay, safer conditions, and better fatigue management strategies. A strike could derail Canada's supply chain, threatening everything from food deliveries to fuel supplies. As the government weighs its options, the clock is ticking. Rail workers have a 60-day window to strike, and the whole country is holding its breath during this high-stakes game of chicken.

Regional Rail Expands Its Reach with Cincinnati Eastern Railroad Acquisition

Regional Rail's latest power move? Acquiring Cincinnati Eastern Railroad. This move isn't just about adding more tracks — it's a bold leap into the Midwest that could shake up the freight game: more routes, happier customers, and considerable potential.

Strengthening Regional Services and Customer Ties

It's full steam ahead for Regional Rail's Midwest expansion. The 70-mile Cincinnati Eastern Railroad is the company's 16th acquisition and seventh clustered in the Ohio-Indiana-Illinois triangle. Running between Clare and Mineral Springs on Norfolk Southern tracks, it hauls everything from rocks to food to paper. CEO Al Sauer sees golden opportunities in this strategic move, which promises smoother supply chains and better service for Midwest customers.  

A Vision for Growth and Community Partnership

Thanks to 3i Group's financial support, Regional Rail has grown from a small operation with just three railroads into a major player in both the U.S. and Canadian markets. Rob Collins, 3i's managing partner, sees this latest acquisition as more than a financial move. It aligns with their strategy of empowering local management, nurturing community relationships, and strengthening connections with Class I railroad partners.

Power Losses Challenge Cargo Ships at Port of Baltimore Yet Again

Just as we’re set to turn the page on the Key Bridge collapse, the Port of Baltimore witnessed another unsettling incident this week as the Liberia-flagged container ship Bellavia briefly lost power while exiting the port. Is it yet another risk to the port, or are these types of incidents more common than we realize?  

A Close Call at Baltimore: The Bellavia Incident

Around 2:30 a.m. on July 1, the 965-foot Bellavia had a heart-stopping moment when its engines suddenly quit. The ghost of March's Dali disaster — where a powerless ship smashed into Baltimore's Key Bridge, killing six — loomed large. But unlike its ill-fated predecessor, the Bellavia rallied, regaining power and limping back to port solo. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is digging deep, probing both ships' guts — from wiring to terminal blocks — to crack the code on these maritime power failures and keep our waters safer.

Understanding and Mitigating Power Loss in Maritime Operations

While ships losing power is quite unsettling, surprisingly, it happens more often than you might realize: ships have lost power about two dozen times in the past three years while entering or leaving ports. The culprit? It's a perfect storm of engine strain and fuel transitions as vessels swap from heavy fuel oil to lighter, eco-friendly options near shore. So, naturally, engines can hiccup, sometimes spectacularly, as seen with The Bellavia's recent scare. That’s why the maritime industry responds with a triple threat of rigorous crew training, relentless maintenance, and a hard look at fuel strategies.  

Domestic Intermodal Volumes Rise, But Revenue Stagnates in Q2

Lastly, intermodal transit is playing a tricky game in 2024. Volumes were up a healthy 3% to 4% in Q2, but the cash registers aren't singing along. Why? "More" doesn't always mean “more” in logistics. While more containers are chugging down the tracks, they're doing it cheaply as intermodal providers tighten their belts.

The Volume-Revenue Disconnect

Intermodal providers face a conundrum: surging domestic container volumes, especially on key LA routes to Atlanta and Chicago, aren't boosting profits due to a 3-6% drop in contractual rates. Post-pandemic market stabilization has eliminated the hefty surcharges of 2020-2021, leaving financial statements lukewarm despite strong volume reports from IANA, AAR, and the Journal of Commerce. Moreover, this year's peak season looks tame, with only a potential modest LA surcharge on the horizon—a far cry from recent years.

Looking Ahead: Contract Negotiations and Market Predictions

Looking ahead to 2025, industry insiders predict a potential 1-5% uptick in contract prices if current volume growth holds. However, it hinges on international cargo recovery and its impact on domestic rates. With intermodal providers merely replacing aging units rather than expanding fleets, carriers might gain negotiating power if demand stays strong. Shippers and providers must now walk a tightrope, balancing operations and finances in a stabilizing market that remains unpredictable. It's game on for the second half of 2024.

Riding Out the Supply Chain Storm with Vizion

This week's been a wild ride from ships playing dodge in the Red Sea to rail workers ready to hit the brakes. But don't worry — while Vizion can't calm the seas or smooth-talk unions, it can help you stay on top of it all with container tracking, global trade management, end-to-end supply chain visibility, and more:

Ready to take your logistics management to the next level? Book a demo with Vizion API today and experience the future of efficient and informed shipping and rail operations.