Greybox sees widening container imbalances
Container imbalances in the liner shipping trades are widening, costing the industry billions of dollars every year, said Greybox Logistics Services, a subsidiary of Transamerica Leasing that provides container repositioning services.
“Global container imbalance is an inevitable consequence of trends in international trade and, as commerce grows, so does equipment imbalance,” the company said. It reported that the growth is on-going, and the cost to carriers and other container operators is “very significant and mounting.”
Greybox Logistics Services said that some 20 percent of containers handled in the world’s ports each year are empty. It estimates that the number of empty containers that are repositioned is about 50 million TEUs a year.
“By our estimates this sort of volume of empty moves is costing the industry in excess of $11 billion a year,” said Stuart Downie, vice president, fleet operations at Greybox Logistics Services.
The company repositions containers from regions of box surplus to areas of equipment demand at an average rate of 8,500 TEUs a month. It reported that half of these moves have been on the heavily imbalanced U.S./Asia and Europe/Asia trades, while the other 50 percent “originate in rather less obvious (equipment) over-supply regions such as West Africa, South America, Australia and the Middle East.”
Greybox said that it utilizes slots on container liner services, deck or hold space on multi-purpose tramp vessels and, with sufficient demand, it also charters ships for block moves of equipment. Its transactions range from single unit moves to 4,000-TEU vessel charters.