How does your cargo EXPRESS itself? – Expedited Ocean Services may save your business time and money

We’ve all seen this fire drill before, your supplier informs you that production will be late and that 30-day transit buffer you built into your schedule now looks like 10 days, and even that is in danger.  Do you blow your budget to airfreight 28CBM shipment from Shanghai to Long Beach or pray, roll the dice and continue moving it via a standard ocean service?  What options are available that would provide as close to a “guarantee” as possible in today’s global logistics environment without breaking the bank and how do they address some of the most challenging issues in the marketplace today?

1 out of 3 Transhipped Containers Rolled in September
Vessel On-Time Performance Below 50%
4 Days Average Port Dwell Time / 10 Days Average To Departure On Rail

Fortunately, there are options. In response to a market calling for more reliable and cost-effective alternatives to airfreight, ocean carriers have introduced new premium ocean products that can reduce exposure to missing those vitally important delivery dates.

What carriers are offering expedited ocean services and how are they different from the “standard” ocean services available?

While MATSON has long offered an expedited ocean service from key points in Asia, several carriers announced new expedited and express services in 2020 as a response to market demands related to the COVID pandemic including the surge in e-commerce business. CMA CGM, ZIM and Yang Ming Lines have all introduced new or expanded their expedited and express related service offerings this year.  For comparison, we break this down into three categories of services. Depending on carrier, some or all of these options may or may not be available.

Origin Port Service Offerings

A typical ocean booking does not provide a guarantee that empty equipment will be available at origin for loading or protection from booking rollover once containers are returned to the terminal.  There is also the risk of being offloaded at a transship port. These risks have always been present, but now, are even more prevalent during times such as peak seasons and the current pandemic related surge. These express services can help to mitigate risks at origin by provide options such as guaranteed equipment availability, vessel loading and no booking rollovers.

Reliable weekly express ocean service

These days express services offer weekly transit times that beat average market transit times while also offering consistent vessel on-time reliability.  Services with truly express transit times (considered faster than market average), are quite limited in the market.  Currently there are four services in operation with Matson & ZIM Lines offering the fastest transit times from Shanghai and Yantian respectively.  Express ocean carrier services consistently demonstrate higher on-time averages when compared to standard ocean carriers service.  On-time ratios are at historic lows, approximately 62% into US ports versus express services that are averaging well into the 90%+ on time range.

Port pairs with express transit services available 

  • Shanghai to Long Beach: 10 - 11 days port/port vs. average industry transit time of 14 days
  • Ningbo to Long Beach: 11 - 12 days port/port vs. average industry transit time of 15 days
  • Yantian to Long Beach: 12 days port/port vs. average industry transit time of 15 days

Destination Port Services

A frequent bottleneck experienced in strong import markets is extreme congestion at US ports, rail terminals and interchanges.  All express service carriers provide shippers some form of relief through their premium services by offering the equivalent of a “1st class airline ticket”.  They have responded to these conditions by offering early week vessel arrival, priority vessel discharge and container availability, expedited terminal access, expedited intermodal services and containers pre-mounted on chassis. The benefits of on dock terminal services, especially with regards to chassis equipment can be particularly significant. Dray carriers usually experience turn times of under an hour on express service containers saving time and money when every hour counts.

With today’s current market conditions time really is money.  What at first may seem an extremely high rate for a premium service may end up saving you additional costs and time in the long run especially considering how fast congestion premiums and surcharges can add up on a standard service. There are a lot of options and finding the right fit is not always easy, especially if you are up against a deadline. We can help your sort it all out and find the best solution.  Contact Brian Martorano, National Director of Business Development Ocean Import or your Laufer sales representative today.


Click to view our Express Service Guide for more details on Express Service Carrier schedules