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October 10, 2021

Supply Challenges Complicated by Wharf Disputes


Supply challenges complicated by wharf disputes.

While much of Australia’s cropping country is by and large looking at a great harvest, machinery supply is proving a difficult hurdle to get over in some areas.

Unfortunately, recent wharf activity (or lack thereof specifically due to an industrial dispute) in Western Australia is now part of some lengthy delay equations which have been exacerbated by COVID and price hikes in international freight costs.

While some dealerships report adequate supplies of harvesters, only a week or so ago, ships carrying harvesters and other ag machinery were turned away from wharves at Fremantle.

Ag machinery freight business Wallenius Wilhelmsen (WWL) is one carrier which has been forced to divert at least three shipments to other ports recently. WWL said the ongoing dispute between QUBE and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) continues to disrupt its shipping services in the port of Fremantle.

WWL added that the dispute has been ongoing for 11 weeks and is now causing significant supply chain disruptions, with vessels being diverted to other ports.

WWL is looking at contingencies for other vessels to be diverted as well.

“We are exploring all opportunities available to us, with the main focus on minimizing customer impacts, and greatly regret this challenging situation for our customers” said Kim Buoy, SVP Logistic Services, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Oceania.

The dispute between the MUA and Qube Ports only involves the Port of Fremantle in WA as WWL’s operations at all other Australian ports continue normally.

The TMA has been highlighting similar problems with wharf disruptions for two years now and while diverting ships is a short-term solution, it will no doubt add pressure to eastern states capacity, which has its own COVID challenges.

Meanwhile, machinery sales continue to power on with tractor sales running 30% ahead of last year with the month of September another outstanding one across the nation.

Beginning in NSW which has been on a positive run for nearly 18 months now, up 32% for the month and now 50% ahead YTD, Queensland was again strong up 46% now up 28% YTD and Victoria was up 10% and is 16% up YTD.

Sales in Western Australia recorded another strong rise with a 45% lift for the month in preparation for what promises to be a bumper harvest season now 35% ahead for the year. South Australia was up 12% for the month and Tasmania finished 25% ahead. Sales into the Northern Territory enjoyed a 125% rise!

All performance reporting categories have enjoyed strong rises for the year, however the under 40 hp (30kw) range was up just 13% in August due to ongoing supply challenges but remains 17% ahead of last year.

The 40 to 100hp (30-75kw) range was again up strongly 38% in the month, now 3% up YTD, the 100 to 200hp (75-150kw) category was up 12% to now be 24% ahead YTD. The large 200 hp (150kw) PLUS range had another strong rise up 92% and now sits 69% ahead of last year.

Sales of Combine Harvesters are presently very strong now up 33% on last year.

Baler sales were down again and remain 4% behind last year’s outstanding season. Finally, sales of Out – Front Mowers are still strong, up 11% YTD.

Gary Northover
Executive Director, TMA