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Table 2 Explanations and abbreviations of the main criteria and sub criteria determined in the present study

From: Investigation of empty container shortage based on SWARA-ARAS methods in the COVID-19 era

Main criteria–sub criteria Abbrev Definition
Container transportation cost increase CTCI Positioning the containers as empty without a return cargo to meet high empty container demands at the points of need causes shipping lines to deal with high transportation costs
Freight increase FI Freight rates have increased to the highest levels in recent years on trade routes where container shortage is considerable
Demurrage and detention cost increase DDCI Restriction and quarantine measures directly affect the workforce, causing port operations to slow down and containers to be kept in port areas or warehouses for long periods. This problem increases the demurrage and detention costs, which are known as free time violations that BCOs have to pay
Inland transportation cost increase ITCI Restriction policies developed during COVID-19 cause delayed port operations, resulting in port congestion. BCOs, who cannot receive service from the ports with heavy cargo and ship traffic, are forced to prefer ports at a distance for their export cargoes
Domestic inflation increase DII Compulsory storage of available cargoes for shipment due to lack of containers, has direct negative effects on the economic structures of countries
Supply chain uncertainty SCU All companies that import raw materials or require an empty container to ship export cargo (i.e., all companies that perform global trade activities at every stage of the supply chain) are negatively affected by the empty-container shortage
Holding available-to-promise loads HAPL As a result of the disruptions in business activities (insufficient number of drivers, slowdown of port and customs operations) experienced because of restrictive measures taken during COVID-19, containers are not transported to inland areas and are kept for long periods of time in warehouses at the port or surrounding areas
Freight rate uncertainty FRU Increased global demand, high increases in daily freighting rates, port congestion, and early launch of peak season surcharge tariffs by some shipping lines are important reasons that cause uncertainty in freight rates
Loss of companies’ competitive advantage LCCA The rapid increase in freight rates from increasing container shortages results in profits from the sales of many cargo groups remaining less than the transportation costs. BCOs struggling with this problem lose their competitive advantage against companies operating in the countries with high global trade
Long load shipment times LLST Even if the production capabilities of companies are at high levels, they cannot use their inventories when their chains of distribution do not work effectively; however, high demands of BCOs who want to replenish their stock levels that decreased because of the container shortage, cause congestion in ports and chains of distribution
Volume loss in container transportation VLCT The restrictions and quarantine practices at the ports cause prolongation of operation times in the port, but the ship frequency to ports in the regions where quarantine practices are high decreases. This causes periodic volume losses in container transportation
Increase in dry bulk cargo demands IDBCD Container shortage and cost increases in container transportation led to evaluating different alternatives for dry bulk cargo demand
Dry bulk freight increase DBFI The change in the demand increased spot freight rates for dry bulk carriers to their highest levels since 2008 and 2009
Intermodal transportation demand increase ITDI Container shortages cause the demand to shift from maritime trade, which provides low-cost freight transportation services, to more complex and specialized intermodal transportation
Highway freight increase HFI After unloading the cargo in the import zone, empty containers are kept in warehouses for some period of time until another demand. Accordingly, increased road freight rates increase container transportation costs in addition to storage costs
Blank sailing announcement increase BSAI When considering the reasons that the empty container cannot be quickly positioned, it was observed that shipping lines increase blank sailing announcements for ports located within regions heavily affected by the pandemic
Disruption of itineraries DOI The itinerary reliability is experiencing sharp decreases resulting from the pandemic
Loss of confidence to shipping companies LCSC As of 2020, the sharp decreases in the itinerary reliability and the problems from the container shortage considerably decreased the reliability levels for shipping lines
Unavailability in ships UIS When there is a decrease in the number of ships calling at ports, it becomes difficult to meet the increasing demand for container transportation
Rollover increases RI The demand burst for container transportation from decreased itineraries is not met by the small number of ships calling at the ports, and thus the majority of containers are often rolled over