Below is a customer notification released by DP World Southampton.

Dear customer,

DP World Southampton is currently experiencing very high stack levels which is impacting our productivity. The underlying reasons for the high stack levels is a combination of factors, some of which are outside of our control. However, we are working very closely with our shipping line and supply chain customers to address this.

There is an unreasonably large number of empty containers in our stack

Many of our shipping line customers are over their empty limit allowance resulting in our empty park being full and additional empties overflowing into our regular stack. This, in turn, is blocking space for normal imports and exports.

We have also seen a large rise in transhipment containers where the lines discharge boxes from one ship to be picked up by another at a later date. Some lines are also skipping ports to make up for delays elsewhere and, in some instances, discharging cargo in Southampton instead of its original destination.

We are working very closely with our shipping line customers to reduce empties, limit transhipments, and get the containers shipped back out to the Far East.

Pre-Christmas peak

The unusually large number of empty containers, coupled with the normal pre-season peak volumes, has put additional pressure on our yard. Boxes are therefore stacked more densely, limiting manoeuvrability, which means it takes longer to pick and load boxes.

Vessels cutting and running

Slower terminal productivity and a lack of space in our yard means that some shipping lines are choosing to ‘cut and run’, and leave the port before all their boxes have been discharged or loaded.

Lack of UK haulage

There is a national problem with the UK haulage industry and a significant lack of available drivers. After the August bank holiday, import dwell times went up by 40% meaning boxes are staying on our terminal for at least a day and a half longer that they usually do before being collected by a haulier. Again this impacts our stack levels which, in turn impacts our productivity.

To help address this we have extended our weekend opening hours, waiving the Saturday charge and opening all day on Sundays at no extra charge. DPWS is also talking to our rail operators to bring in additional train services.

What are we doing about this?

All of the above factors are part of operational life when running a successful container terminal. However, when combined with the pre-Christmas peak, the impact on the flow of containers can be more severe.

  • We want to assure our customers that we are taking all possible measures to address this including:
  • We are maximising our resources on both landside and shipside to minimise the impact of the high stack levels on our service.
  • We have announced that until further notice we will be extending our landside operation over the whole weekend without additional charges.
  • We continue to ask the lines to ship as many empties as possible to reduce the empty stock in the terminal.
  • We are asking the lines to temporarily stop using Southampton to tranship empties from the US to Asia.
  • We are asking the lines for prior consultation before using Southampton to discharge cargo for other ports to help schedule recovery.
  • We are reducing the export-receiving window from the usual 10 days to 7 days to deter export boxes being brought into the terminal too far in advance of the vessel’s arrival. This will come into effect from Monday 1st October 2018.