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

Toygar A., YILDIRIM U., Inegol G. M.

EUROPEAN TRANSPORT RESEARCH REVIEW, vol.14, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12544-022-00531-8
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, ABI/INFORM, Compendex, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Maritime transport, COVID-19, Container shortage, SWARA, ARAS, MULTICRITERIA DECISION-MAKING, SELECTION, MODEL, INDICATORS
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


A shortage of empty containers has become a global crisis with more devastating effects than during previous periods when combined with various problems arising from the COVID-19, such as an increase in an imbalance of global trade between supply and demand, a decrease in the workforce, and restrictions by countries or regional quarantine practices. The absence of empty containers in regions where they are needed slows down industrial activities and locks the global supply networks, necessitating the use of alternative methods that are inefficient. Although this shortage causes many disruptions in global trade, solutions to the issue have not been studied in detail. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the issues caused by the shortage of empty containers and to rank the appropriate solutions. Four main criteria and sixteen subcategories used to define the issues, as well as a multi criteria decision model comprising five criteria for the solutions, were proposed based on information from the literature, sectorial publications, and expert opinions. The issues' weighted order of importance in our proposed model was calculated using the SWARA (Step-wise Weight Assessment Ratio Analysis) method; solutions were ranked using the ARAS (Additive Ratio Assessment) method. The results of the study revealed that the issues were ranked in importance as cost increases, uncertainty in the supply chain, volume loss, and increases in blank sailing announcements. Appropriate solutions were ranked as booking guarantee applications and information communication technologies, using shipper-owned containers, inducement calls, and E2E (end to end) delivery services.