Every year, repositioning empty containers costs supply chain organizations an estimated $15-20 billion. The impact of COVID-19 has significantly decreased the return of empty containers, with returns to Asia dropping about 23% in March. For instance, in April, 2020, the Port of Oakland welcomed its largest vessel ­­— the 19,200-TEU MSC Anna — to retrieve empty containers piling up during the COVID-19 crisis and return them to Asia.

As these issues and inefficiencies continue to increase across the supply chain industry, leaders need to address and call attention to the costs associated with repositioning empty containers as they sit idle in ports and the cost of moving them while empty. Ocean carriers find themselves facing unique challenges that complicate repositioning these containers, including:

  • Increased customer demand to provide end-to-end shipment visibility and report real-time status updates
  • Delays and fees due to containers sitting idle in ports or being repositioned while empty contribute to costly and inefficient supply chain
  • Obstacles to modernize digital capabilities to support emerging technology and integration requirements

Since these challenges continue to overwhelm carriers and transfer costs build, solutions must be prioritized. Organizations should consider implementing domestic reload solutions to offset these associated costs and combat an increase in railroad line haul rates.

These solutions enable ocean carriers to market marine containers located at inland ports to intermodal marketing containers (IMCs) to reduce costly repositioning fees when moving otherwise empty containers back to seaports. Investing in domestic reload services can also offer supply chain organizations:

Automated Financial Services

Organizations can maintain all line haul and fuel surcharge rates and accessorial and automate rail billing execution on behalf of ocean carrier customers, and invoice IMCs. Domestic reload service users can ensure receipt and the troubleshooting of additional ‘billing’ as needed.

Impactful Reporting

Online reports are necessary for ocean carriers. Customized dashboards and business intelligence metrics share critical program performance information to better influence a supply chain for the better.

Reliable Customer Support

Training, troubleshooting and support are provided during all implementations and integrations, which includes the monitoring of communications to ensure active and timely information (Electronic Data Interchange, EDI).

Thorough Visibility and Dependable Distribution

Domestic reload services designate and post empty container capacity to market assets to and from container yards and railroad ramps to IMCs. Organizations can make reservations and fulfill requests from IMCs, while allowing priority distribution through allocation for premium customers, including product requests. Organizations will also have an easier time tracking event milestones at origin and destination rail ramp locations.


To learn more about Blume Domestic Reload, be sure to check out our Asset Management & Optimization page to understand how Blume Global can meet carrier needs. 

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