Cooperation in Empty Container Logistics

TitleCooperation in Empty Container Logistics
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsJahn, C, Schlingmeier, J, Blecker, T, Kersten, W, Ringle, CM
Title of ProceedingsInnovative Methods in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Conference LocationHamburg
ISBN Number978-3-8442-9878-9; 978-3-8442-9880-2
ISSN NumberISSN (print) 2365-4430, ISSN (online) 2365-5070
Keywordscooperation, empty container logistics, equipment interchange, imbalances

Seaborne container transport volumes have doubled between 2001 and 2011
from 59 to 118 million TEU. The demand for container transport also induces
demand for empty container repositionings, as not all import locations have an
equally large demand for export of containerized cargo. As a result, empty
containers have to be transported from equipment surplus- to deficit-locations.
Around 25% of all transported containers are empty, resulting in costs of USD
33 billion in 2011. Since overcapacity in the industry has put margins under
pressure and empty transports are often not paid for by the shipper, limiting
those expenses is crucial for carriers.
While technology-, pricing- and operations research-related approaches have
been implemented widely, cooperative strategies have received little attention
in practice. The literature attributes this to the fact that the benefits of such a
strategy have not been proven yet.
Based on the network-model, we believe, that an interchange of equipment
between carriers in surplus- and deficit-locations will reduce the required
number of empty moves. The paper constitutes the first empirical analysis of
the potential of equipment interchange and will reveal that between 5-10% of
moves can be avoided. The analysis is conducted as a case study and based
on actual container moves collected from nine global container carriers. By
proving t he benefits of equipment interchange, we hope to contribute to further
cooperation among carriers.