New routes mean new challenges but a simple solution  | Absortech
Out in a rough sea

New routes mean new challenges — but a simple solution  

The shipping industry and its customers have been having a hard time in recent years. It’s been one thing after another — from container shortages and supply chain challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic to rising fuel prices, shifts in trade and demand patterns and stricter environmental regulations.  

But if that wasn’t enough, shipping now has to cope with the uncertainty and disruption caused by the conflict in the Middle East and severe drought in Central America that is restricting or even taking away the traditional routes through the Suez and Panama canals. Increasingly, vessels and their cargo are being re-routed around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which adds a week or more to the length of many journeys as well as increasing the shipping costs, fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions that are already tough challenges to overcome.  

Adding more risk

At times like this, you don’t want any more bad news about how this will increase the risk of moisture damage to cargo. Unfortunately, it will cause issues. However, there is some good news: it is a headache that will go away with a simple and effective remedy.  

First, let’s take a look at the moisture issues these longer, re-routed journeys involve:  

  •  Longer journeys mean more moisture

Clearly, more days and nights at sea will lead to a need for more robust moisture protection. Existing measures will have to be dimensioned appropriately to cope with extra weeks in transit while still maintaining a safe margin.  

  • The new routes are more challenging

The time valuable cargo spends at sea will increase, but new routes around the Cape of Good Hope also increase the number and severity of temperature and relative humidity changes. Instead of the expected weather conditions of journeys from South East Asia to Europe and North America that dip towards the Equator but stay in the Northern Hemisphere, the new route will now go deep into the Southern hemisphere and its winter season before returning to the heat of the Equator and then on to the cooler North. This means that the new routes will go warmer-colder-warmer-colder and these temperature changes will cause much more moisture to deal with.    

  • The situation will continue for the foreseeable future

Even with restrictions on the Panama Canal likely — but not guaranteed — to ease in April or May, there is no resolution to the conflict in the Middle East on the horizon. Shippers and supply chains will need to get used to this new normal. As Charles van der Steene, regional president for Maersk North America put it when giving advice to customers: “We’re advising them the longer transit routes could last through Q2 and potentially Q3. Customers will need to make sure they have the longer overall transit time built into their supply chain.” 

Cargo ship in transit of the Panama Canal passes under the Centenary Bridge, Panama

You said something about “good news” …

Yes. This new challenge is unwelcome but should be fairly simple and cheap to resolve so that it doesn’t impact your operations and stop you focusing on what is most important to you and your business.  

For example, adding just 20% more desiccant to your moisture protection solution should cover you — and only at an extra cost of perhaps $10 per container. Which is a very small price to pay for extra peace of mind and avoiding the many thousands and even millions of dollars in costs caused by moisture-damaged goods and the resulting supply chain disruptions.  

Time for a comprehensive solution?

In addition to using more desiccant, you may also need to review your packaging and loading solutions to make sure these will cope with the excess moisture. Many problems can be avoided if you have a comprehensive solution for moisture protection, especially when things aren’t going as planned.  

But again this can be relatively simple: you can always reach out to Absortech for our guidance and expert knowledge. Whether it’s coping with new issues on new routes or dealing with your everyday challenges, we’re here to listen and help.  

Explore Absortech’s range of container desiccants here. And don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your own moisture protection challenges and how we can help. 

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