Technology companies have been working toward true, real-time visibility of containerized freight across the ocean for some time. Shippers have long since tired of the manual collection of container tracking data. This requires visiting carrier websites, which may or may not be updated; sending emails and calling to collect ETAs and recent events; and then entering all that data into internal systems.
Even after collection, this port data and generalized vessel and shipment tracking data only give shippers a generalized picture of where in the world their shipments are located. This old ocean shipping visibility simply won’t do in a supply chain constantly at risk from logistics disruption and a consumer base demanding more shipping information than ever before.
The old ocean container tracking model relied on ocean carriers' EDI connections. The technology, which has been around since the 1970s and doesn’t supply the rich container information needed in today’s world, is outdated. The newer API connection technology provides usable, complete, and standardized data across the industry. While EDI connections just offer port-to-port visibility, with API service, technology providers can enrich the tracking data by extending visibility all the way to delivery, offering door-to-door tracking by adding in terminal, rail, and trucking data.
Ocean container tracking also required collaboration. Carriers needed to actively provide ocean tracking data to shippers, and many ocean shippers only supplied visibility information to their largest customers. If they even supplied this data reliably, it might be incomplete or in a format incompatible with a shipper’s system. The shipper then struggled to process the information into something actionable that allowed them to use the data to reduce demurrage fees, optimize container operations, and, most of all, track their shipments. Ocean visibility data was both complicated to access and difficult to work with once obtained.
Updated Ocean Shipping Tracking is Crucial in 2024
Container tracking is currently messy and inaccessible, requiring shippers to visit ocean carrier websites to track down where each container is located on the shipping route. Shippers then have to standardize this information and plug any holes or inconsistencies in the data before it can be used.
That’s all a lot of work. Vizion estimates that 40 percent of the operational time is spent collecting this data. In comparison, analytics teams spent 70 percent of their day getting the carrier visibility information into a usable form.
The goal is clean, reliable data for ocean visibility. But it’s about more than just knowing precisely where each container and product is in the shipment lifecycle. Shippers need easy access to data and high-quality information to make choices regarding ocean shipping decarbonization, shipment planning and optimization, and compliance.
Vizion works with shippers to first understand what information they need and how they need it delivered. This gives their customers the data they need to make better decisions in the global supply chain. The collection and processing of ocean container tracking data is automated, so shippers also win back valuable time in their day and can easily scale up the process as needed.
Visibility Aids Supply Chain Decarbonization
With a renewed focus on supply chain sustainability and the impact of ocean shipping emissions on climate becoming ever more important, real-time ocean container visibility gives shippers the control to reduce emissions from their shipping operations. Using a technology partner to gather real-time data about ocean containers gives shippers the power of supply chain agility, allowing them to reroute or optimize shipping decisions when confronted with climate-related supply chain disruptions. This level of supply chain decision-making also enables better long-term planning to remove GHG emissions from the supply chain; shippers can prioritize carbon emissions when making shipping decisions, basing their decisions on a clear, real-time picture of their shipping world.
Calculating ocean container shipping emissions can be a bit of a puzzle. With real-time shipment tracking, shippers get an accurate accounting of their emissions. They will always know exactly how many carbon offsets to buy or what to prioritize when reducing GHG emissions from their logistics processes.
This accounting is crucial as governments – like the European Union, with its Emissions Trading Scheme – begin implementing supply chain sustainability regulations. Looking at regulations in general, using a technology partner for real-time visibility can eliminate errors associated with the manual entry of ocean container data. Shippers can say goodbye to costly mistakes when entering information for U.S. Customs and other regulators. Impeccable visibility reduces compliance challenges and increases regulatory adherence.
Shippers Use Real-Time Visibility to Handle Rising Shipment Volumes
Even with the demand for supply chain decarbonization, the world’s reliance on ocean shipping is only increasing, putting a strain on existing logistics processes. This shipping growth will continue unabated due to the rise in e-commerce demand, and it’s up to shippers to improve their processes now before the complexity of the global supply chain becomes too much to handle. Partnering with a technology provider for ocean container visibility and tracking helps shippers manage and optimize increased shipping volumes. This technology prepares shippers with real-time alerts on container movement risk to eliminate supply chain breakdowns and brings supply chain prediction to the fore with detailed container movement information that makes planning possible. Identifying possible detention and demurrage fees in advance not only saves shippers money, but this knowledge can help keep the flow of goods around the world moving.
The Role of Ocean Container Tracking
Shippers utilize ocean container tracking solutions to eliminate error-prone data collection and enable operational agility, cultivating supply chain resilience. In addition to improving operations, ocean container visibility tools can optimize transportation spend by identifying and helping to reduce detention and demurrage fees, not to mention the potential savings that come from optimizing routings.
Enhanced Visibility and Transparency
This is job number one; ocean container track-and-trace is the primary goal of any ocean visibility solution. Obtaining real-time insights into the supply chain ecosystem by identifying where each container is, along with accurate ETAs, gives shippers unique insights into their supply chains. This transparency is invaluable in today’s supply chain world. It helps with everything from planning to rerouting shipments in the face of supply chain disruptions to increasing consumer happiness by providing accurate ETAs and shipment delivery notifications.
Vizion tracks shipments from the container loading point all the way to final delivery, no matter the final-mile mode. Vizion customers rely on the company’s unique APIs to deliver reliable delivery estimates, the ability to track down containers mid-shipment, and exception-based alerts when shipments go off track.
Optimized Operations and Efficiency
Knowing a problem exists in the supply chain, seeing the issue in bright shining lights because of real-time visibility tools, but not being able to do anything about the issue, is a terrible feeling. That’s why the best ocean shipping visibility solutions give shippers the tools to know where their shipments are at any point in the value chain and execute on that information. Vizion users might not even get to that point, as the company’s solution helps users anticipate and mitigate delays or disruptions before they even happen. Container status update reports are only helpful if they appear before disaster strikes, so in addition to real-time exception alerts, Vizion users can generate detailed hourly and daily shipment status reports.
Shipment Visibility Enhances Regulatory Compliance
Real-time ocean container tracking helps shippers meet U.S. Customs and other regulatory demands by enabling better use of data. With a sound visibility system, all the relevant information is at a shipper’s fingertips, making filling out the proper paperwork and identifying applicable shipments a breeze. As GHG emissions reporting becomes more crucial for every shipper operating in the global supply chain, accurate tracking and data reporting ensures that shippers always know their carbon footprint.
Vizion’s Ocean Visibility Prepares Shippers for the Unknown
Shippers that utilize Vizion’s ocean container tracking solutions are building resilient and agile supply chains optimized for today’s complex world of international trade. In every ocean shipment, myriad issues can crop up. With real-time ocean container tracking, shippers can identify these issues as they occur and re-route shipments as needed. With enough visibility data, shippers can even work to avoid disruptions before they occur.
Book a demo to discover the power of real-time ocean container tracking via Vizion API.