How the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Could Affect Shipments of Construction and Farm Equipment

The tragic incident in which a container ship collided with a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has featured in headlines across the globe, not only for the loss of life but also due to the potential impact on supply chains. Authorities have suspended all traffic through the port area until further notice. According to the latest insight by Alexander Jones, Research Analyst at Interact Analysis, there are several short-term effects that the incident is likely to have on the off-highway vehicle sector.

The Port of Baltimore is used by the largest construction machinery manufacturers. Image source: Baltimore Regional Transportation Board.

According to a US census, the port of Baltimore was ranked #1 for imports and exports of farm machinery ($5 billion) in 2023, and #3 for construction machinery ($6.6 billion). For construction, imports exceeded exports by a factor of more than 5. In general, Baltimore is the #1 port when it comes to ro-ro cargo. The figure below shows some of the major agriculture and construction machinery manufacturers that make use of this port for exports.

The short-term effects of the incident on the off-highway vehicle sector are as follows:

  • Longer delivery times. Orders of construction machinery from outside the US may be delayed if Baltimore is the main entry point. Different ports will need to be utilized and there will be a subsequent need for additional warehouse space for temporary storage, in addition to changes to on-road transport routes.
  • For specific equipment types and models, there may be no alternative and end-users will either face a delay or increased costs. However, depending on the equipment type, the effect may be minimal – there is ample production of construction machinery domestically (and in dealer inventory) within the US so it is unlikely that contractors or dealers are going to face a shortage of equipment.
  • Price increases. The points mentioned above will no doubt result in short-term price increases for specific models. Changes to the entire logistics network will incur extra costs, which may be passed onto customers.

Long-term, however, things should return to normal relatively quickly. Estimates for the time needed to repair the bridge indicate that the port should be open again for business by the end of May (although in reality setbacks will probably delay this to the end of June). The port of Savannah in Georgia, which was #1 for imports & exports of construction equipment in 2023, should be able to handle the extra traffic generated.

Interact Analysis tracks the global off-highway machinery market at a machine type, region, powertrain type, and power rating level. The figure below shows our forecasts for the total number of construction & road building, and agricultural vehicles sold in North America. In 2024, the agriculture vehicle market is expected to fall by around 6%, while the construction and road building vehicle market is predicted to drop by around 4%. We don’t anticipate the collapse of the Baltimore Bridge will significantly impact these forecasts.

A slowdown in sales is expected in the short-term, but positive growth is forecast going forward. Image source: Interact Analysis.

Interact Analysis

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