Over the past few decades, tracking commercial shipping containers as they crossed oceans and traversed global shipping corridors necessitated patience, perseverance, and sometimes an army of technicians to wrangle and track location, lading, and customs information as data sources became more complex, unstandardized, and piecemeal. Doing this regularly to try to assemble uniformly consistent freight information has become a significant challenge for many logistics organizations.
The COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years only exacerbated problems. New e-commerce volumes suddenly saw a decade’s worth of growth added to global totals in just three business quarters. Delays of 12 days or more became common at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the most active North American cargo offloading terminals. Containers have been misallocated across continents and have taken up to 45 days to be relocated, resulting in mass shortages of consumer goods on store shelves.
Another event, the unexpected blocking of the Suez Canal by the container ship Ever Given in March 2021, resulted in a staggering cost of $400 million per hour in lost trade.
In short, businesses of all sizes have pressing needs for ocean container tracking visibility. Still it’s becoming increasingly difficult for logistics firms to answer basic questions, such as “Where is my container, and when will it arrive?”
Why Have Traditional Supply Chain Technology Implementations Harkened the Need for Additional Information Technology (IT) Resources?
Traditional supply chain technology implementations have amplified the need for IT resources because of the many issues cited above; all of the relevant location, lading, and customs information hasn’t been available from a single source in a single place at a single time. Thus, there became a need for logistics firms to cobble together their own solutions to problems of information acquisition and processing. Put simply, the data exists, but it’s not all available in a consistent, persistent, usable format. Legacy systems, electronic data interchange (EDI), and information latency are significant issues.
Why Is There a Need for Technology-based Solutions in Ocean Freight Management?
While ocean freight management might not have been seen as a sector where technology could make much of a difference in the past, it’s a different story today. Speed, confidence in data, and the ability to go to market immediately are competitive advantages in the current era.
What Are “Low-Code” and “No-Code” Solutions, and Why Are They Attractive for Enterprise Solutions?
Many enterprises seeking to leverage technology to manage international logistics with real time tracking are convinced they need to build their own commercial ocean freight management and container tracking visibility solutions. However, they might not realize there are now off-the-shelf tools that require little (low) or no coding to implement. These are attractive solutions compared to proprietary resources and tools assembled by firms in-house that take years to develop.
Enter the Turnkey Application Programming Interface (API), Lessening the Burden to Implement Automated Container Tracking Visibility
Companies such as VIZION develop turnkey APIs to connect stakeholders with data, lessening the technological development burden of implementing consistent and reliable container tracking.
VIZION’s container Tracking tools are API-driven, meaning that they’re industry-standard resources that can be readily used and relied on, despite data coming from disparate systems and sources. By using an API, the process of container tracking becomes standardized; data can be imported, formatted, updated, and presented in a consistent manner on a regular, timely basis.
Now, shipments can be tracked by container numbers, by master bills of lading, or by master bookings. Furthermore, an API-based solution:
- Standardizes container milestone events across carriers.
- Pushes data to customer systems via webhooks.
- Makes carrier estimated times of arrival (ETAs) available in one place in a consistent format, and provides updates every six hours.
Targets of 99% container tracking visibility are now realistic versus previous expectations of 95% visibility, which is no longer acceptable. Logistics firms and other parties can thus become proactive in managing shipments, avoiding delays and demurrage charges, and responding to exceptions, alerts, and emergency issues. Significant gains in operational expenditure efficiency are achievable, providing better returns on investment (ROI).
OTS Solutions in Supply Chain Shouldn’t Need an IT Army
With API-based tools, no longer will organizations need to deploy armies of IT developers and other personnel to craft esoteric, “one-off” or custom solutions for ocean container tracking visibility.
“Low-code” or “no-code” solutions have the potential to make the process of building systems and frameworks to automate container tracking far less costly and time-intensive. VIZION’s Ocean Freight Tracking API is radically easy to use and build with, as can be seen here. Organizations can start implementing solutions using a minimum of information.
Previously a laborious, manual and ad hoc task prone to human errors can now be intelligent, standardized, automated and predictable. Organizations will free up IT and other personnel to focus on higher priority tasks. Solutions can be implemented using low-cost, common applications.
In short, off-the-shelf tools can solve the problems of information, resources, and scheduling for logistics organizations, allowing firms that implement these solutions to advance rapidly into the future. Contact a VIZION expert to learn more or get started.