A much less talked about term in export terminals is the Earliest Receiving Date (ERD). This is the earliest date a loaded export container can arrive at the port in advance of the incoming vessel's arrival. Shippers would typically send the containers anytime between the ERD and the cut-off times in order to not incur any storage fees at the port. ERD allows the port to avoid having unnecessary containers sitting at the terminal and taking space that can be used by the more immediate cargo. The ERD, like the CY (container yard) cut-off time, changes if the ETA (estimated time of arrival) of the vessel changes.
Imagine finding out the ERD (Earliest Receiving Date) for the loading terminal is being delayed by 5 days due to the late vessel arrival. That means you now need to re-plan the trucking and storage of the containers that were expected to be loaded.
- Will the trucking company have capacity 5 days later at the same costs?
- Will the shipper incur port storage fees or D&D charges for bringing those containers too early?
- How do you account for the additional supply chain cost?
Talk about last-minute firefighting.
ERD Variability Linked to Vessel Delays and External Disruptions
Through the last 2 years, ERD updates have been highly volatile and last-minute, causing shippers to find ways to check them constantly. For example, at key export ports in the US, ERD for the same vessel changed by 1.4 days up to 22 days. This impacts delivery timelines and truck bookings and makes it harder for transport planners to confirm the lead times.
Constant changes in loading windows have been a function of various factors like port congestion, weather adversities, blank sailings and routing changes. Add to this the fact that the changes are reported mostly last minute and the dates provided by the forwarder or carrier may be different from those published by the terminals. Major shipping carriers have now altogether stopped reporting the Earliest Receiving Date (ERD) information on when shippers can expect to send the containers to the terminal for a particular vessel. Not even as the loading window approaches and definitely not at the time of booking confirmation!
Impact of ERD Changes on Shippers
With no updates coming from carriers and forwarders, shippers are left with two options.
- Manually check the terminal websites for ERD information
- Incur unexpected fees and last-minute changes
Yet the manual checking takes hours of time from the operators’ daily workload since each terminal website has a different format and frequency of providing this information.
Here’s a look at the South Carolina Ports and DP World Canada which share this information in completely different formats.
Imagine checking such websites and copying the ERD for each vessel in an excel and correlating that with the booking numbers or, worse still, container numbers in order to calculate the consolidated weekly truck loadings. And doing this every other day… forever?!
Knock-on effects of sudden changes in ERD include exorbitant fees paid to pack houses, rail ramps and marine terminals. The increased cost of supply chain ultimately results in either lower margins for the shipper or translates into higher costs for the end consumer.