Port Congestion Review

18th January 2024

Logistics BusinessPort Congestion Review

Beacon, a supply chain visibility and collaboration platform, has released its 2023 Port Congestion Review. While average global vessel anchor and berth times hovered at a combined 1.5 days throughout the year, Asia outperformed while North American ports struggled. In a sign of further recovery for global supply chains, container dwell times at port improved between January and December at 71% of analysed ports with Colombo leading the way with average dwell times of 1.8 days in 2023.

North American ports struggle with congestion, and SE Asia is amongst the best performing regions in 2023

Overall, Asia is performing very well when it comes to port congestion (the combination of vessel anchor and berth times) – with all regions except the Indian Subcontinent (1.7 days) tracking below global averages over the course of 2023.

SE Asia outperformed China for much of the year with congestion times averaging 1.2 days in comparison to China’s 1.3, helping to solidify its position as an alternative manufacturing hub.

China’s performance was hindered by persistent congestion at the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan, one of the busiest in the world, where congestion times averaged more than 9 days, although improvement was seen with congestion dropping below 6 days in November and December.

Transpacific hubs on the West Coast of North America continue to struggle with congestion, with combined anchor and berth times averaging 3 days in 2023. Central and South American (1.3 days) and European(1.4 days) ports outperformed the global average of 1.5 days, while the Middle East and North Africa saw congestion relief beginning in August through to the end of Q4.

Colombo, Melbourne and Charleston among the best ports for container dwell time in 2023

Analysing the time it takes for containers to depart the port after being unloaded, Beacon has ranked the best and worst performing ports for container dwell time in 2023. Of note, the ports of Algeciras (Spain), Qingdao (China), Laem Chabang (Thailand) and Liverpool (UK) all registered container dwell time improvements of more than 49% between January and December.

Although port congestion may be out of cargo owners’ control, how they respond to it isn’t. Beacon Live Boards makes it easier than ever to share updates with partners, act with speed, manage risks and generate the insights needed to improve supply chain performance. Ultimately allowing customers to optimise their supply chains in the most effective way possible.

Fraser Robinson, CEO of Beacon, commented: “It is great to look back at the data we have collected over 2023 and interesting to see some trends beginning to emerge. Supply chain disruptions, as we are experiencing at the moment in the Red Sea, can incur heavy financial costs and while supply chain management isn’t a golden ticket to completely eliminate risk, investing in the right tools, like Beacon, is one of the strongest ways to minimise the impact.”