17Mar

The truth behind rollings

Can cargo rollings be predicted?
I have recently commented on such an article on LinkedIn. The range of opinions in the comments to that article highlights that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about how the rolling nominations are done by a shipping line.

Based on my 12 years of experience working for multiple shipping lines, in operational and trade roles, I would like to demystify the rolling process.

When are the rolling nominations done?
If the vessel is overbooked, the rolling nominations would normally be done a couple of days before vessel ETA at the port. Depending on a shipping line set-up, the overall amout of TEUs to be rolled will be determined by a capacity manager. The exact bookings to be left behind are nominated by a commercial desk, which can be sales, trade team and even customer service. The exact process may vary between carriers, but it generally goes like this…

  • In case of a contingency, when a decision needs to be taken within a couple of hours, the rolling nominations will be done by a capacity manager without involvement of the commercial party. A capacity manager would generally follow standard rolling priorities where reefer cargo (especially chilled reefers), DG cargo and key accounts are being protected.

  • In case of a ‘cut-and-run’ situation, when the vessel must leave the port at all costs (such as to avoid bad weather or to arrive at the next port on time), the cargo that has not been loaded yet will be left behind with no considerations of the usual rolling priorities.

And that’s just the beginning of the process…!
On top of the above circumstances, it is not possible to know the exact amount of cargo that will make it to the terminal before the cut-off time. To better manage capacity, the shipping line normally creates an optional list containing the bookings that could be added to the load list at the last minute, if other cargo is not ready. This ensures any open slots caused by cargo not being load ready during operations can be replaced.

A lot of shipments can end up getting stuck on customs hold or missing paperwork. Some containers may have not even arrived at the terminal yet because of trucks arriving late, barges not arriving on time, ITT’s (inter-terminal transfer) not making it, or even missed transshipments for connections from other vessels.

So when does everyone get informed about rollings?
In all the above cases, the cargo that was left behind is only really known after the vessels sails from the port and the terminal systems are updated. It is at this point, the rolled cargo is informed by the terminal to the shipping line. Only after that, customers of the shipping line are notified that their shipments have been rolled. This could process could take a few days after the vessel already departed from the port.

And what happens after that…?
Your cargo will normally be re-booked to the next sailing in the same service by the shipping line, which means a 1 week delay. This is not always the best or fastest option for your cargo.

It is exactly at this point, when you need a solution to identify a more optimal routing option and inform your carrier to re-book you. And that solution is OceanOps! Well, that’s if you want to avoid a 1 week delay.

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