Since May 2022, many in the logistics industry have been keeping a close eye on labor talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). It wasn’t until June 2023 that they reached a tentative agreement, which came after months of back-and-forth with little to no progress. The details are expected to be shared publicly once the deal completes the ratification process, which could take a few more months.
As ILWU-PMA labor talks stretched on, shippers recognized the risk it brought for supply chain disruptions. Since the negotiations revolved around employment terms for longshore workers at major West Coast ports, there was a potential for disruptions and slowdowns at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Hueneme, Oakland, Seattle, and Tacoma. Shippers only have to think back a few years to port congestion resulting from COVID-19 shutdowns that wreaked havoc on many supply chains.
For shippers, such situations can jeopardize their supply chains. Delays in the movement of goods can have far-reaching consequences, ranging from increased transportation costs to inventory shortages and dissatisfied customers. To navigate these challenges successfully, shippers must seek proactive solutions to minimize disruptions and increase their resilience.
What’s at Stake for Shippers When Supply Chain Disruptions Occur?
Shippers are right to monitor any situation that can affect ports on a large scale, as these can create obstacles in their supply chains with delays and increased costs.
The concern for shippers starts with the disruption of port operations. An event, like a worker strike, can cause operations to drastically slow down or come to a stop. Eventually, vessels would be left waiting outside the ports for extended periods of time, unable to berth. The resulting shipment delays would have a ripple effect on supply chains. Shipments would take longer to reach their destinations, disrupting production schedules and inventory management and potentially impacting shippers’ customer satisfaction.
This type of situation can also result in increased costs. Extended delays can lead to increased demurrage and detention charges, adding another logistical challenge for shippers. To avoid these problems, shippers may decide to explore alternative shipping routes or modes, which can increase transportation costs, straining shippers' budgets and affecting their overall profitability.
With the list of challenges that disruptions may bring for shippers and the likelihood that it will be difficult for them to predict the next major disruption, they must take a proactive approach to mitigate the risks.
In Uncertain Times, Visibility Provides Resilience
Mitigating risk is essentially equivalent to increasing resilience. More shippers today are actively seeking ways to improve their resilience, and real-time visibility has become a powerful tool in the current (and any other) landscape of uncertainty. Equipped with accurate and timely ocean container tracking data, shippers get insights into the movement and status of their shipments. How does this help with resilience? It provides enormous potential for shippers to use that information to understand the past, apply it to the future, detect new information and changes as they happen, and adjust. The alternative is a reactive approach—dealing with situations once the consequences are already apparent. Rather what shippers need is proactivity.
Real-time container visibility helps with the detection of potential disruptions and the response to emerging trends. Armed with detailed information, shippers can make informed decisions to adjust schedules and ensure less waste of time and resources. This agility is essential for maintaining smooth, efficient operations without sacrificing cost. When delays occur, every hour matters, and shippers that know about problems sooner are in the best position to recover from them quickly and cost-effectively.
Supply chains can also benefit from collaboration and sharing of real-time visibility data with various supply chain partners, shining a light on a broader scope of information than what is typically available. When visibility is transparent and accessible, it leads to better decisions across the board, strengthening supply chain resilience for when obstacles arise.
In the face of disruptions and uncertainties for global shippers as well as freight forwarders, real-time container visibility becomes a cornerstone of resilience. It equips them with the agility and foresight needed to maintain operational continuity without sacrificing their transportation budget.
Visibility Data is Key
When certain events threaten shippers’ supply chains, shippers can improve their resilience and mitigate the effects of disruptions by embracing real-time container tracking technology, as offered by VIZION API.
The power of visibility lies in its ability to enable proactive decision-making. VIZION API provides this support for shippers and freight forwarders through advanced analytics on port performance, detailed container tracking events, and more, so they can make adjustments to stay ahead of the curve and protect their bottom line.
To learn more about VIZION and increasing your supply chain resilience through container tracking and visibility, reach out to us today to book a demo.