Container imbalance in the shipping industry has been a very common phenomenon in recent few years. Many shipping companies, which are just starting or growing slowly, may have incurred large cumulative losses in the form of increased operating costs as a result of inefficient management of their shipping assets. These companies may be losing a lot of revenue due to poor management of their asset-allocation strategy. Due to this reason, there has been an urgent need for container shippers to adopt efficient management procedures in order to maintain adequate levels of flexibility and growth within their logistics network.
There are many factors which are believed to contribute to the worsening of the current situation of container imbalance. Some of the most prominent are: insufficient loading rates of container ships to the opening of ports; increasing fuel costs and the resulting effect on shipping rates; increased competition among shipping companies leading to reduced pricing and promotion opportunities; reduction in demand from customers as a result of lower than expected purchase orders; and disruption of the cargo flow due to weather, technical problems, or other events. These factors have adversely affected the profitability of shipping companies. To overcome the problems on the balance between demand and supply, shipping companies have adopted a balanced shipping mix, which involves a high degree of flexibility, an increase in shipping flexibility, rational warehousing practices, and other techniques aiming to control both demand and supply.