Hapag-Lloyd pledges schedule transparency

by Emily Atkins

Shipping line Hapag-Lloyd is promising its customers full transparency in vessel scheduling.

In the context of high demand, massive Covid-19-related restrictions and the Suez Canal incident in April 2021, the container industry has been forced to deal with major operational challenges, such as congested ports, ship delays and infrastructural bottlenecks. Hapag-Lloyd characterizes it as the “worst operational crisis in many years”.

“We fully acknowledge that today we are still far away from achieving the reliability levels that our customers expect from us and the entire industry. Currently, we are facing massive congestion at ports and terminals. However, our teams are working hard on managing these challenges and creating more transparency for our customers,” says Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd.

On-time and visible

The objective is to enhance transparency on the schedule performance of its vessels and increase ships’ on-time performance. The carrier says this will “improve supply-chain reliability for its customers and to maintain its current ranking among the top third of the 15 largest carriers in terms of schedule reliability”. Punctuality can bring benefits to customers, such as reducing warehouse stocks and avoiding excess inventory and interim storage.

“Reliable transportation and, along with it, transparency on schedule changes are significant service characteristics that customers value in managing their global supply chains,” explains Habben Jansen.

“While offering more visibility on our schedule performance, we are proceeding to improve our on-time delivery at the individual-container level. To get there, however, we first have to manage the on-time arrival of our ships, one of the key influencing factors.”

Process improvement

The liner company says is modifying operational processes – including improving cooperation with terminals, ports and all on-shore partners – to reduce delays. The target is to have ships arrive on or within one day of the ETA (estimated time of arrival) as indicated in the booking confirmation.

Hapag-Lloyd modifies its schedule and voyage management to provide more accurate vessel ETAs and pick-up times when containers will be released. Delays will still occur, but with better operational processes and arrival forecasting, customers can get updates faster, more reliably and proactively to improve planning.

The company’s Customer Dashboard tracks its performance as well as its standing compared to the global industry. Apart from providing detailed information based on the monthly Sea-Intelligence Global Liner Performance Report, the company offers data collected in the “Carrier Schedule Analysis” (CSA), developed in-house.

In a statement to customers, the company said: “We are modifying our schedule and voyage management to provide you more accurate vessel ETAs and pick-up times when containers will be released. Delays might still occur, but with better operational management and arrival forecasting, you can get updates faster, more reliably and proactively.”

Comparative data

As part of the launch, Hapag-Lloyd presents global data versus the market as well as additional breakdowns at the country, trade and port-pair levels. And the carrier will continuously work to expand the amount of information it provides, eventually down to the individual-container level.

“Our organization is changing processes to improve our schedule reliability. The initial result of these efforts is that Hapag-Lloyd has climbed from 12th out of 15 in the Sea-Intelligence Global Liner Performance Report in December 2019 to 4th in April 2021. And our target is to at least maintain this position among the top third,” Habben Jansen said.

“While we expect the global situation at ports and terminals to reach normal levels in the second half of 2021, we do not intend to rest. In 2022, we will set ourselves specific targets on the schedule reliability that we would like to achieve.”