Each year, millions of vessel schedules change and make shipping more challenging for importers and exporters. It can be difficult and very costly to manage all these vessel delays for any party in supply chain. In an industry that has lots of exterior factors, maybe the most important advantage you can create compared to other freight forwarders is having the latest update sailing schedule. Discussed below are the advantages and disadvantages of importers and exporters having access to current vessel schedules.

There are many factors involved in having access to updated vessel schedules, especially for exporters. Exporters may be utilizing outdated sailing schedules thus creating inaccurate bookings. Truckers need to be notified each time a schedule is changed. At times the exporters are unaware of the schedule changes. The cargo can be taken to the port earlier than it should be and have a delayed departure, which can create demurrage charges. Alternatively, schedules can be changed for vessels to depart at an earlier time that originally scheduled. This can be a problem for exporters, as they may miss the critical cut off times and cause the cargo to be delayed. Finally, when a schedule changes from its original plan, the reliability of the route’s schedule greatly decreases too. Unreliable routes make it more difficult to minimize risk and downstream costs in the supply chain.

Importers are also affected seriously by access to vessel schedules. Importer makes all production and sales plans according to vessel schedules. Any changes of the arrival dates have to be known by them so they can adjust their production cycles and programs. Importers  are also responsible for scheduling truckers’ pickup and delivery appointments. If the sailing schedule changes, trucker appointments need to immediately be adjusted. At times the importer may not have access to the updated schedule changes, which can cause an increase in costs from the truckers if they have to complete empty runs. Importers often discover that a shipment has been delayed after they have received an arrival notice or a customer calls to inquire about the status of their shipment. Not having access to updated schedule changes can result in missed sales dates, late deliveries, or even factory shutdowns from the point of importer.

As freight forwarders, it is imperative that we receive updated vessel schedules in order to best serve and update our customers. It is important for our customers to be able to have confidence in our efficiency and reliability. Being on schedule, avoiding and reporting delays ultimately cuts costs and increases reliability in the shipping industry.