The pandemic hit human health hard, but it also created insurmountable challenges for many operations that must get products to customers. Congestion at ports and shortages of dock workers, cargo containers, and ships have slammed the industry like we’ve never seen before.
This photograph shows the backlog of ships just waiting to dock at one port.
It’s a scene we see over and again at ports in Asia and other places. Just recently, a COVID-19 outbreak in southern China prompted authorities to shut down businesses, causing massive shipping delays for Chinese ports. For example, at the Yantian International Container Terminal in Shenzhen, ships used to get a space to dock within half a day. Now, it’s taking up to 16 days.
What does this mean for Ultraflex customers?
We manufacture many of our digitally printable textiles, rigid and flexible substrates outside the U.S. So, when trouble hits the freight industry, it affects our supply chain too.
For example, the lag in shipping times could impact delivery of some materials. We are actively working to prevent disruptions to our supply chain so that you have access to the quality, dependable materials you need. We continue to maintain the world’s most comprehensive inventory across our product lines.
Here are other factors we are monitoring closely across the industry:
- The cost to ship goods has increased dramatically. In mid-June 2021, freight rates from Asia to the East Coast of the U.S. were 250% higher compared to the same week in June 2020, and to the West Coast, 245% higher.
- The cost to ship from Europe to North America jumped by 20% in one week alone in June.
- Container rates are sky-high. The cost to ship a standard-sized container of goods typically comes in at $3,000. Some rates are now over $20,000. During peak season, July through September, rates could reach $30,000.
What can you do?
The back-to-school season and holidays may seem months away, but big box stores and online retailers will start placing seasonal orders in the weeks ahead. Many already have. The industry is still trying to catch up from the backlog of orders created by rising consumer demands during the pandemic. As new orders pile on top of those, the freight squeeze will get even tighter.
We’re advising customers to place orders earlier than usual to help avoid delivery delays and potentially higher costs in the weeks ahead. In addition, we can help you find alternative solutions if a material is delayed or out of stock.
What can you expect from us?
One of Ultraflex’s core values is to be a customer-first company. Our team members are fiercely committed to helping you solve problems so you can continue to deliver vivid graphics that sell products and tell brilliant stories.
We don’t know how long we will be navigating this situation. What we do know is that integrity is the backbone of our business. Our commitment is to keep you informed, to treat all customers with the highest level of respect and fairness, and to be a valued partner that goes above and beyond to help you grow your business.
Thank you for your support and partnership during these unprecedented times. For more information, please email us.