QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Are The Impact Of Blank Sailing On Customers

.Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex, Mrs Olufunmilayo  Olotu (M)  with an Award of Honor presented to her by member of the NPA Chapter of Next Generation/Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) led by their Chairman, Bello Ja’afar last week in Apapa, Lagos


Blank sailing affects customers whether big or small, who have booked cargo to the blanked port or are expecting cargo to come in from such a port. Consider lean supply chains that utilize Just-In-Time (JIT) concepts and are designed to receive just the optimum quantities of raw materials at their production sites.

Blank sailings will throw such supply chains into disarray. It can result in future overstocks for the customer when a pre-booked consignment comes in along with the stocks that were held up on account of a blank sailing.

This affects storage space available with the customer and it might even lead to a situation where the customer may be required to resort to leasing space from a third-party service provider.

For industries, when raw materials are not received as expected, on time, they are forced to use up their buffer or safety stocks. When such stocks are depleted, it affects production.

Customers of finished goods who wish to get the products shipped to their customers on time will also be affected by shipment delays.

Blank sailings will delay dispatch of stocks to customers as promised unless an alternative mode of transport is quickly arranged.

Whenever there is a delay in moving goods between their supply and demand points, there is bound to be confusion.

Alternative methods of transporting goods may not be readily available and even if they are, it would naturally be more expensive. The more the gap between sailings, the more will be the negative impact on customers.

Perishable goods such as food items, flowers, poultry, etc. that have been caught up in blank sailing will have to be diverted or written off.

Cargo meant for specific events such as specialized shows, sports events, etc. will be of no use if delivery is after the date of the show or event.

It is not just the customers who are affected by blank sailings. Auxiliary functions at a port that has been skipped by a vessel lose their business as well. These could include overland transport companies, stevedoring services, etc.