Nearly two years ago at a Congressional hearing, talks began between the Chairmen of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard & Marine Transportation, regarding Executive efforts to double exports by 2015. One way to assist in these efforts was to create a reporting system for shippers that estimates the availability of marine shipping containers for westbound transpacific trade lines at select intermodal locations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), along with members of the carrier discussion group that comprises the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (WTSA), had worked closely with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) since 2010, to develop a weekly publication of shipping equipment. This report, the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report (OSCAR), is said to exemplify unity between the government and the private sector. According to Arthur Neal, AMS Transportation and Marketing Program Deputy Administrator (2012), locating available shipping containers is a critical component within the agricultural export industry, likening the process to searching for buried treasure. Neil believes that the development of the OSCAR will make this search easier.
The first OSCAR report was published on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, and is comprised of an aggregate listing of shipping equipment available at 18 select intermodal locations for the westbound transpacific trade lines. The WTSA carriers include COSCO, Evergreen, Hanjin Shipping, Hapag Lloyd, Yang Ming Transport Corporation, OOCL, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (K Line) , and Hyundai Merchant Marine. APL Ltd., previously of the WTSA, discontinued its membership effective, September 1, 2012. These carriers voluntarily submit weekly container availability data that is based on the current supply compared to the demand for containers, through timely booking or reservation information within the westbound transpacific trade lane. The five types of ocean shipping containers reported on are 20 & 40 ft. dry, 20 & 40 ft. refrigerated, and 40 ft. high cube containers. The reports include estimated container availability for the current week, as well the following two weeks out. Also included in this report are bi-yearly overviews of cumulative container availability at the 18 select locations reported by the participating WATSA members. The container availability is reported on the following 18 location:
The OSCAR publication, is a weekly report provided at no charge, by the Transportation Services Division, AMS through the USDA. The stated purpose of this report is to assist U.S. exporters in locating available equipment to move their products, and to offer increased efficiency and transparency of container flows, regardless of cargo type. Another way to gain efficiency and transparency is by investing in software that can track and post your intermodal equipment surplus and deficit. Profit Tools trucking software has a Container Reload Posting module that has 'intelligent' posting capabilities based on user defined timeframes. Container status information is automatically posted to third-party equipment matching services. Container and equipment repositioning database services such as LoadMatch.com and SynchroNetMarine.com, will assist intermodal carriers with managing container imbalances.