Without container shipping, our world would be a very different place, because raw materials, goods and merchandise of all kinds would inevitably not be available to the extent they usually are. It is true that goods can also be transported by truck, train or even plane, but by far not over such long distances and in such large quantities as with a container ship.
Before we go into detail about the advantages and disadvantages of sea freight, let’s take a brief look at sea freight and container shipping in general. This will ensure that you fully understand the later explanations on the advantages and disadvantages of sea freight. As a small teaser in advance: At least in terms of cost, ocean freight is far superior to other means of transport.$
Everyone is familiar with pictures of ports and container ships: by now, the largest container ships are up to 400 m long and a proud 62 m wide, and of course offer plenty of space for sea freight of all kinds. Even though container ships tend to get bigger and bigger, there are also shipyards that continue to produce smaller ships – and for good reason.
Container ships often travel long routes from Asia to Europe or the USA and usually have to follow coastlines. So it’s no surprise that the distance traveled is far longer than the distance as the crow flies, which is often used as a measure. As industrialization continued to grow, the potential of shortcuts was recognized early on. The Panama and Suez Canals, for example, were built at great expense. Container ships can save up to 15,000 km of distance (and time) through the Panama Canal and around 8,000 km through the Suez Canal.
Incidentally, container ships are loaded with so-called standard containers. A standard container has a length of around 20 feet and is therefore about 6 meters long and 2.4 meters wide. In English, such a container is called a “Twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU)” and the capacity of container ships is also specified in the number of TEUs that can be loaded. However, not only these containers are usually used, but also the “Forty foot equivalent units (FEUs)”, which are twice as large.
Such containers are provided either by companies themselves or by transport service providers. For easy transport to and from a port, they are compatible with trucks or freight cars. Loading and unloading in modern ports rarely takes longer than 48 hours.
So, before we now turn to the sea freight advantages and disadvantages in detail, let’s keep in mind that unimaginably large capacities would be available or possible for sea freight.
We at ECL Kontor are of course very familiar with sea freight and everything that goes with it. But to make sure that we don’t hide anything from you as a customer, we will of course also go into the disadvantages of sea freight after this section – weighed up fairly and transparently. But now to the advantages of sea freight at a glance:
Regarding prices, it should be noted that they are rising at the moment, as the balance between import and export between Europe and China is lost. This limits container capacity in China, as there are more containers in Europe than in China. So there is an imbalance between the availability of containers in Asia and the high demand, as people are often left with few options other than to order, which has risen sharply, especially during the Corona Lockdown. However, despite the rising prices, transportation by ocean freight remains the most affordable mode of transportation.
Moreover, with an experienced service provider like ECL Kontor, the cost of sea freight is predictable. Based on your needs, we will make you an offer that includes all costs.
In the next section we will now – as promised – look at the disadvantages of sea freight.
From our professional point of view, sea freight offers only advantages in most cases. Nevertheless, we would also like to show you when or under which circumstances sea freight can have disadvantages for you. Possibly, after reading this article, you already have an idea what these might be:
In general, however, it can be stated that the advantages of sea freight clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Only under certain circumstances the use of other shipping methods is also recommendable from our point of view. For more detailed information, ECL Kontor is also available to you personally at any time. Get in contact with us!