When you make a booking with a shipping line often times you will hear the disclaimer: “Pending Space and Equipment.”  In this article, we will explain the difference between the two and how they relate to each other in regard to booking an ocean shipment.  We will also explain why it’s important to understand the balance between the two and how to best plan your shipment around these crucial shipping parameters.

SPACE:  Space is literally the empty space available on the shipping vessel for goods being shipped.  This could be empty slots for ocean containers or open space for larger goods shipped outside a standard ocean container.  If you are shipping via ocean container it would refer to the capacity the cargo vessel has for standard ocean boxes. If shipping via RORO (roll on/roll off) where no container is used it refers to the space on the ship’s surface or within the body of the vessel to store goods.  

In very busy ports space can often be limited.  It is important to check the vessel space well in advance to see if you need to account for limited availability.  In certain cases, bookings are required to be made weeks sometimes months in advance to secure space on a vessel. Though this is uncommon, it is important to consult your freight forwarder to see if the port you wish to ship from has any space issues.

EQUIPMENT: Equipment refers to ocean containers, special equipment, trailers, or other devices to safely contain and transport goods.  When you make a booking the carrier does not always reserve equipment for your shipment, only space (and even this is not always guaranteed).  What is important to know is that the carrier cannot control equipment supply all the time. It is very uncommon for a carrier to be able to reserve any particular type of equipment for your shipment.  Often times it is first come first serve. Equipment can be tricky because its replenishment is dependent upon how much inbound equipment is coming from other shipments. That means remote locations that receive less traffic can experience a shortage of equipment due to its lower volume in shipments.  Special equipment such as flat racks, open tops, refrigerated containers, can be in even lower supply as fewer of them are usually available. Be sure to have your freight forwarder confirm that the equipment you require is available for your shipping needs. Careful planning is sometimes required to ensure your shipment does not experience delays due to equipment shortage or unavailability.


THE BALANCE: It is important to note that both space and equipment must be available for your shipment to depart without issues.  Keep in mind that just because one is available does not guarantee the other. Often times a carrier will issue a booking with no issues as it has plenty of space.  However, if you are shipping from a remote location or require special containers the equipment you need may not be available for the time of your booking. Similarly, there may be a lot of available equipment in your area, but the vessel may be overbooked and will not have space.  Both aspects of your shipment must be reviewed to plan properly.  Be sure to work with your freight forwarder/ocean carrier to properly plan for your shipment.

Maximum Freight has handled many cases where either space, equipment, or both have been in shortage.  We have a wide array of creative solutions to work around space and equipment issues for our customers. If you have questions regarding your shipment feel free to give us a call today.  Our advice is always available and quotes and shipment analysis is always FREE! We look forward to hearing from you!

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