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International Forwarding Association Blog » Sea freight in Europe

Sea freight in Europe

Maritime Security Inspections Safeguard Onboard Operations

Security inspections support the safety and integrity of maritime operations. These checks focus on identifying threats such as tampering, unauthorized access, and stowaways. This ensures breaches are accurately attributed, and ground forwarders are not wrongfully implicated.   Tampering During inspections, security teams inspect for signs of hampering, which can include discrepancies in cargo weights, irregularities in packaging, and inconsistent stocking patterns. Other indicators might be broken seals, unauthorized modifications to container structures, and the presence of unusual odors or residues that suggest hidden or prohibited items. These rigorous inspections ultimately benefit ground forwarders, whether the issue is minor or a… Read more

Navigating Ice and Fog in European Sea Freight Forwarding

Efficient sea freight in Europe is often hindered by severe weather conditions. Two of the most significant challenges are ice formations, which impede vessels, and dense fog, which impairs navigation and slows down port operations.   Ice Formations In the Baltic Sea, winter often results in harsh conditions where portions of the sea are covered by thick ice packs that immobilize vessels. To combat these challenges, ports in Finland and Sweden deploy fleets of icebreakers – ships with reinforced hulls that break ice into pieces. These icebreakers help maintain clear paths along commonly used shipping routes such as the Gulf… Read more

European Ports Lead the Wave in Environmental Conservation

European ports lead in adopting sustainable practices, spanning biodiversity conservation, renewable energy, and waste management. These efforts improve environmental health and bring predictability and cost benefits to the logistics sector.   Biodiversity Conservation Today, ports are increasingly acknowledging the significance of biodiversity conservation in their operations. For instance, The Port of Antwerp, in partnership with the environmental organization Natuurpunt, is undertaking efforts to safeguard its biodiverse ecosystem, which hosts several rare species. Through the initiative ‘Port of Antwerp more natural,’ the port is implementing conservation strategies such as setting up nesting locations for sand martins, building areas for fish to… Read more

Adaptive Strategies for Sea Freight Amid Disruptions and Weather Challenges

In the complex world of sea freight in Europe, carriers face constant challenges from disruptions. Embracing strategies like route and fleet diversification and forming strategic alliances enables them to navigate these uncertainties with agility and resilience. This, in turn, allows freight forwarders to maintain operational continuity, adapt to changing conditions, and meet clients’ needs with reliability.   Route and Port Diversification One effective strategy for mitigating the impact of disruptions is to diversify shipping routes and ports of call. By avoiding over-reliance on a single route or port, companies can reduce risks when a specific area is affected. The drought… Read more

Managing Diverse Cargo Types for Sea Transport

Handling various types of cargo demands specialized knowledge and precise care in sea freight in Europe. Bulk, breakbulk, and liquid cargoes present unique challenges in preparation, safety measures, and loading techniques essential for safe and efficient sea transport.   Bulk Cargo Bulk cargo, including commodities such as grain, coal, and minerals, requires special attention to safety. For agricultural products like grain, this includes ensuring dryness to prevent spoilage and the potential for hazardous gas build-up during transit. When handling chemical powders, the focus shifts to secure packaging and containment to prevent leakage and reactions with other substances. The next step… Read more

Addressing Crew Safety Challenges in European Sea Freight

Sea freight in Europe, integral to maritime logistics, is important for global trade but also brings risks that impact crew safety. These challenges include navigating harsh weather conditions, managing crew mental health, ensuring medical preparedness, and addressing environmental hazards. Each of these factors not only impacts the safety of crews but also influences the decisions and operations of ground forwarders.   Navigating Harsh Weather Conditions One of the main challenges to crew safety is dealing with unpredictable and harsh weather conditions. Crew members on sea voyages, particularly in regions like the North or Baltic Sea, often face risks from severe… Read more

Challenges in Sea Freight Forwarding: Handling Diverse Cargo Types

Sea freight forwarding involves transporting a range of cargo types, each presenting unique challenges. Oversized items, perishable goods, and high-value items not only require specific handling but also specialized security approaches to ensure their safe and efficient transportation.   Oversized Cargo One of the most challenging types of sea freight is oversized cargo, such as machinery, industrial parts, and vehicles. These items often demand specific handling equipment due to their size and weight, including gantry cranes for their high load capacity and reach stackers for their manoeuvrability. Additionally, modular trailers, which can be adjusted to accommodate various sizes and shapes… Read more

Answer of Europe to Maritime Security Challenges

Europe’s reliance on maritime routes for trade is undeniable, with 40% of the EU’s internal trade and 90% of its external trade going by sea. Disruptions in crucial channels, such as the Somali coast or the Strait of Malacca, can cause delays and increased costs and compromise the safety of crew, vessels, and their cargo. Addressing maritime threats like piracy, hijackings, cargo theft, and maritime terrorism is essential for European logistics companies to ensure safety and maintain efficient operations. As a response, there is a growing emphasis on adopting solutions like real-time ship tracking, predictive analytics, enhanced digital communication, and… Read more

Port Congestions Pose Challenges in Ocean Freight Forwarding

Ports play are essential for sea freight in Europe, a major hub for international imports and exports. But increasing congestion at these ports is becoming a pressing concern. Major contributors include the increasing size of modern vessels, labor disputes, and the complexities of customs and regulatory procedures.   Evolution of Vessel Size and Port Readiness As the economics of shipping evolve, the industry has witnessed a shift towards larger vessels. These behemoths reduce operational costs but pose a fresh set of challenges for ports. To accommodate these mammoth ships, ports need deeper drafts, broader berths, and more powerful cranes. Rotterdam’s… Read more

Maritime Fraud, Types, Costs, and Ways to Combat Smuggling

Maritime fraud is common and can occur virtually everywhere, from warehouses and company offices to onboard commercial ships. The trafficking of illicit or unmanifested cargo involves the smuggling of prohibited articles by suppliers, stevedores, agents, surveyors, and even ship superintendents, senior deck officers, and engineers. Such smuggling of cargo exposes carriers to reputational, financial, and legal risks and is a serious problem both, at land and on sea.   Types of Illegal Cargo Vessels may carry cargo that fraudsters want to keep undetected. Such items include products that are adulterated, counterfeited, or falsified, including construction materials, electronics, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals…. Read more

Fire Onboard Ships: Causes and Consequences

Fires on board cargo and passenger’s vessels lead to damages and loss of lives each year. While safety is paid attention to during construction and design, the incidence of fires onboard ships has not improved.   Why Incidents Occur The incidence of fires onboard container ships continues to grow, and the larger a vessel is, the higher the risk of fire. Reports show that over the last 5 years, more than 70 fire incidents occurred onboard container vessels. Fires in the cargo area of Ro-Ro/car and container ships have been a major topic of debate. Lines shipping battery-powered electric vehicles… Read more

Factors That Affect Ocean Freight Rates

Ocean freight accounts for about 90 percent of global shipping, which makes it the main mode of transportation. It is also the preferred mode due to efficiency, cost-competitiveness, and heavy cargo capability. There is also a degree of flexibility in how freight rates are calculated. In some cases, rates cover shipping, stowage, and unloading at the port of arrival but not loading and stowage at the port of origin. In other cases, carriers are not responsible for trimming, stowage, unloading, and loading. Other factors that affect rates include season, distance to destination, type and amount of cargo, fuel costs, and… Read more

storage and distribution

Decline in Consumer Demand Is Hurting the Maritime Industry

There is a significant decline in consumer demand, with logistics CEOs noting a 20 percent decrease in ocean freight orders for the last two months. The pullback is evident across a wide range of products, ranging from some types of apparel to industrial, housing, and machinery. The main reasons for the drop in orders are lack of clarity on demand, combined with excessive inventory. CEOs share the opinion that the number of waiting cargo ships is expected to drop. Outbound tender rejections are also signaling a decline in orders.     Inventory Issues Demand for expensive items is still strong,… Read more

Shipping Industry

Green Corridors Can Help Decarbonize the Shipping Industry

Green corridors are routes that are exclusively used by ships running on alternative fuels. Recently, their feasibility has been widely debated by industry players. Most agree that green corridors can help de-carbonize the shipping industry but there are still some uncertainties about implementing them. But first comes first – what are green corridors and what are the different types that industry players can use?     The Logic behind Green Corridors Broadly speaking, green corridors are specific routes that make zero- and low-emission shipping more feasible. They correspond to economic zones where industry players can implement new business models and… Read more

Ocean Freight

Ocean Freight Carriers Investing in Aircraft

Ocean carriers are increasingly offering air cargo services as customers are looking for an intermodal logistics solution to ship freight around the globe. According to experts, it is more than just simplifying logistics but also about making it effective, efficient, and optimized. Some of the largest shipping companies have already added aircraft to their fleet while others have opened an air cargo division. This is because global supply chain disruptions have created a demand for cargo to be flown.     Why Customers Choose Air Freight In the majority of cases, air is only part of the solution. Some customers… Read more

Sea freight in Europe

Major Challenges the Shipping Industry Needs to Prepare for

The drive towards sustainability is transforming the shipping industry. Innovative business models, next-generation technology, and changing regulations will have a profound effect on both carriers and forwarders. Business as usual is no longer acceptable because societies and consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable practices. Today, consumers demand more transparency and new policies aimed at reducing the impact of pollution on nature and human health.     Changing Focus and Landscape Changing trading patterns and regulations, together with a growing focus on decarbonization and climate change are set to transform the shipping industry in the years to come…. Read more

Covid-19 Port Congestion

Covid-19 Port Congestion: How to Unclog the Economy

Apart from the Suez Canal blockage in March, 2021, many big commercial vessels shipping cargo were stranded outside ports last year, from South Carolina to Europe and Singapore. Why all this happened?     Covid-19 Pandemic When lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed in 2020, many started ordering gym equipment and office furniture, setting up work from home and turning their basements into gyms. There has been a surge in orders globally. Not surprisingly, this translated into a 48 percent increase in retail purchases while online sales increased by 24 percent. Yet, the bulk of this trade (90 percent) is… Read more

Innovations in Shipping

Emerging Technologies and Innovations in Shipping

Shortage of expert workforce, environmental regulations, demand and supply imbalances, and supply chain bottlenecks are some of the main challenges facing the shipping industry. Emerging innovations and trends help reduce the negative impact on carriers and forwarders. Blockchain, robotics and automation, the Internet of Things, big data and analytics, and artificial intelligence are successfully integrated in different segments to improve safety and efficiency. Also, cybersecurity and 5G, mixed reality, and augmented and virtual reality are paired up with data-sensitive technologies to minimize safety risks and ensure continuous operations and robust functioning.   Maritime Operations AI There are numerous applications for… Read more

The crew change crisis

Crew Change Crisis Waning but Challenges Are Still Ahead

The crew change crisis seem to have stabilized despite a shortage of Ukrainian and Russian mariners and the restrictions imposed in Japan. Figures show that the number of crews stranded onboard ships beyond contract expiry is down to 4.3 percent in June, compared to 4.5 percent in May, 2022. The number of mariners onboard ships for 11 months or longer has remained steady at 0.3 percent. According to ship managers, there are both negative and positive crew change trends. Positive Trends The number of confirmed cases onboard ships has declined while China is easing restrictions on crew changes, which have… Read more

Marine Crew Shortages

Marine Crew Shortages, Causes and Solutions

Recent Covid-19 outbreaks and the sanctions against Russia are causing crew shortages and pushing wages up. Outbreaks in the Far East have prevented Chinese seafarers from boarding ships while Russian crews are unable to join ships due to travel limitations and visa restrictions. This has resulted in reduced availability on a global scale and a serious manning and recruitment crisis.  Wage increases can be seen across all ship types and ranks and for some ranks, remuneration increases are quite steep.   Causes for Crew Shortages In addition to new Covid-19 outbreaks and the sanctions against Russia, favorable charter markets across… Read more