Navigating Container Shipments: Unraveling the Top 5 Challenges in Logistics

We look at the top 5 transportation problems when it comes to shipping containers. Find out what experts have to say, talk about possible answers, and learn a lot about how complicated this important part of the global supply chain is.

There are problems in every sector, and shippers frequently tackle issues in supply chain management, among other areas. Almost 80% of the goods shipped to destinations around the world are transported by sea, making the container industry an important part of global commerce. Over the years, there’s been a prominent rise in the international demand for different goods. The deadweight tonnage in container shipments increased from 11 million metric tons to around 293 million metric tons from 1980 to 2022 as reported by Statista. No doubt, this industry will only expand further as the decades go by. The real question is: Is container logistics optimized to handle the changing needs in shipping?

What are the main problems of the container industry?

Shipping companies, freight forwarders, and other businesses invested in the international shipping industry are facing trouble these days. Despite the combined efforts of governmental and private organizations, there are significant issues connected to cargo security and shipment delays. Various stakeholders and businesses in the freight sector are also dealing with major communication hurdles. It seems like the current infrastructure is unable to handle the burden of the demands of a growing shipping industry.

Experts are speculating that the slow development of infrastructure and ports across the world is making matters worse for everyone involved. The container industry constantly encounters threats, which deters investors at times and creates challenges for security teams in charge of keeping cargo safe. More organized efforts are required by those possessing the authority and resources to bring out progressive changes in container logistics for everyone’s benefit.

Unexpected shipping delays

Staying on schedule is essential in the container industry, but it’s unfortunate that this top priority has to be shifted down the list in the face of more pressing issues. It seems like things are only getting more complicated as data collected in recent years paints a bleak picture of container logistics in the context of schedule management. Reports on shipping delays between January 2019 and August 2022 reveal that the extent of the delays increased with time, according to Statista.

In January 2019, the average delay for a vessel was 4 days, but this time it rose to 6 days by August 2022. As you can imagine, an additional delay of two days can cause serious concerns for everyone involved, including the stakeholders. The shipping company’s reputation is on the line, and shipping delays decrease their reliability in front of their clients. You might be surprised to learn that only 40.5% of container shipments reached their destinations without any delays in July 2022. The data clearly proves that poor schedule management is a frequent occurrence in the container industry, despite time being a prominent concern.

Read More: Real-Time Shipment Tracking: The Key to Streamlined Logistics and On-Time Deliveries

Lack of upgrades at ports

The capabilities of your employees have a strong impact on the quality of service you can provide as a shipping company. It’s important to note that the skills of your employees have a limited advantage in a crisis where the state of the infrastructure isn’t up to par. Progress in container logistics can’t be seen without a proper assessment of the facilities at ports around the world. Operations would be far smoother if there was some level of uniformity in global port infrastructure.

Experts are particularly concerned about the issues found in ports located in developing countries. According to Statista, data from the year 2022 shows that 9 out of 10 of the busiest ports in the world were located in Asia. Shanghai was the biggest port in the container industry that year, boasting a capacity of more than 47 million TEU. Singapore wasn’t far behind Shanghai, with a capacity of nearly 37 million TEU. Despite these statistics, many Asian countries can’t explore their true potential in this sector due to inadequate facilities at their ports.

Security risks in container logistics

There are a number of problems associated with the safety of cargo and the crew onboard vessels carrying that cargo. While some problems are more localized due to geographical factors, many security risks are universal. Data gathered between 2010 and 2021 revealed that pirate attacks decreased within this decade, but the number of pirate attacks in the global container industry were still 132 in the year 2021. Countries that are frequently targeted by pirates include Indonesia, Malaysia, and Nigeria.

High maritime crime rates are reported in areas that are known for having passages for oil transport. From 2013 to 2022, out of the 807 vessels lost, 311 were cargo ships. Recent reports show that Southeast Asian coasts and the Baltic Sea are areas that present the greatest threats to vessels. The journey of the average shipment presents significant challenges in container logistics, regardless of the route. When moving from one area to another, the integrity of the cargo also has to be maintained. Not being prepared to find solutions to security problems in shipments may lead to shipping delays, further complicating the issue.  

Disruption of communication

There are various operations relying on efficient on-shore and off-shore communication to achieve different objectives in the container industry. Unfortunately, the lack of reliability in communications between relevant parties causes challenges for everyone involved. Depending on outdated methods of paper documentation is one reason for poor communication and inaccurate recordkeeping. Automation has major advantages when applied to container logistics, especially those regarding real-time tracking and communication.

Besides internal communication, your stakeholders also ask to remain updated on the progress of the shipments they’re invested in. If errors and delays in communication between your teams are leading to problems, you won’t be able to update your stakeholders the way they want. Your reputation in the container industry may suffer as your relationships with stakeholders are affected by poor communication, tracking, and reporting.    

Inability to meet growing demands

The expansion of goods transportation in the container industry is a welcome advancement, but taking a few steps forward creates new hurdles. The rapid development of any business or industry often comes with questions related to managing the increasing load. Statista reported that almost 1.95 billion metric tons of cargo were shipped in the year 2021. To give you a clear picture of the increase in demand of shipments, the weight of the cargo transported in 1980 was 0.1 billion metric tons. The rise in the demand of goods is obvious, but is present-day container logistics designed to handle the extra burden?

Unfortunately, the problem of shipping delays is tied to the inability of the container industry to satisfy the demand for cargo transportation. Shipping companies struggle to maintain their shipment schedules because the infrastructure doesn’t support them the way it should at international ports. There are feasibility issues when it comes to delivering shipments at the right time as the load of shipments rises. Local authorities can provide sustainable solutions to shippers’ concerns, but mutual cooperation in container logistics between various countries is necessary for future success.    


The first step to creating a solution is identifying the problem and understanding what caused it. Insufficient attention to the quality of communication, growing consumer demands, security threats, shipping delays, and a lack of infrastructure remain the most pressing concerns in the container industry. Global authorities should join hands to form solutions while organizations operate at a local level for rapid development.