After a two year slump, the shipping industry is showing signs of recovery. While imports into the US haven't improved much, exporting is beginning to pick up.
Capacity and equipment shortages are a big problem right now. Asia's slumping economy has caused a steep decline in Asian exports over the past two years. This has caused a container shortage in the US. This unexpected shortage has caused export ocean shipping prices to increase and shipping companies have had to cut back on their operations.
New containers are currently being produced, but are not expected to keep up with demand until well into 2011. However, the increased exports from the US have helped the Asian economy to begin to recover, and exports from Asia are on the rise. The increased number of containers available in the US has helped ocean freight and shipping companies to become fully operational once again.
Everything isn't quite back to normal, but it seems that things are beginning to trend in a positive direction. Industry leaders and analysts expect that problems will persist throughout the next year, but the positive changes that have been made in the ocean shipping business are sustainable. International shipping is expected to soon return to full capacity loads.
Management of ocean freight companies has had to take a turn. Only the most important projects are still being funded; those that will bring in the most revenue for each company. Efforts are being put forth in maximizing the space that is to be used on the ships. Shippers are expected to fulfill their orders so that every voyage is at full capacity. No longer will space be kept on hold for businesses that do not fill the space that they promised. Carriers have slowed the speed and reduced capacity to save money in the past two years. Extra trips transporting empty containers are currently necessary to keep up with the demand of US exporters while Asian exporters are at a standstill. This has caused rate increases, but rates still shouldn't be as high as they were a few years ago for a while.
As exporting increases and becomes more readily available and affordable to smaller and smaller companies in the US, the ocean shipping industry has to adjust to support it. Gaining new customers and making current customers as happy as possible are high on the list of priorities. The changes that have been made have allowed ocean carrier companies to increase production, create new jobs, and attract new customers all on tight budgets. The lessons learned and the management efficiency that has been produced by this slump will continue to benefit those involved in the ocean shipping industry for years to come.
About the Author: Nelson Cabrera is the Business Development Manager of Lilly & Associates International, a transportaion and logistics company specializing in ocean freight and ocean shipping services. For more information, please visit http://www.shiplilly.com/.