For shippers and BCOs, tracking ocean containers equates to more than just vessel tracking. They need to receive updates as their containers make their way through each part of the shipping process—gate out, gate in, stuffed, de-stuffed, departure, arrival, etc. By having visibility and receiving updates on their shipments, organizations know when to expect their goods to arrive at the destination port.
Many ocean carriers provide this information for their shipping customers. Each month, shippers make hundreds of thousands of searches for ocean container tracking for some of the biggest carriers—like OOCL, Evergreen, and Wan Hai. We’re going to look at these tracking sites and the information they provide.
What is Ocean Container Tracking?
Ocean container tracking is knowing the status and location of a shipment during its journey from origin to destination. When making the case for ocean freight visibility, some compare it to a pizza delivery. When a customer orders online or using an app, they get a map that updates in real-time the location of the pizza. In a similar way, quality visibility is needed for ocean freight. Shippers receiving updates greatly benefit from this insight, instead of waiting in the dark while the shipment takes weeks to complete. A vessel with thousands of containers definitely has the demand for this type of tracking, when the same can be done for pizza delivery.
The simplest form of ocean container tracking can be achieved by logging into a portal or website and searching for the container to view updates, as provided by various ocean carriers for their customers. Shipments can be searched by container, bill of lading, or booking number, and the data for each shipment is provided as events or updates like ETAs, which shippers keep track of in their freight management systems.
What Types of Container Tracking Milestones Are There?
Establishing standardized milestones helps shippers set up their system to readily use the data they get from various sites. Different carriers can use slightly different terminology for the same event, which can make it a challenge to understand the data at a glance unless standardization or data mapping is used.
There are thousands of possible event names that shippers may come across dealing with their freight. Here are a few of the most common milestones these translate to.
Milestones updated as needed:
- Destination ETA
- ETA Change
Milestones at the port of origin:
- Gate out empty at the origin port
- Gate in full at origin port
- Container yard cut-off
- Loaded on the vessel at origin port
- Vessel departure from origin port
Milestones at the port of destination:
- Vessel arrival at the destination port
- Discharged from the vessel at the destination port
- Gate out full from destination port
- Gate in empty return
Milestones at another port:
- Vessel port call without container discharge
- Transshipment port
What are the Top Ocean Carriers for Container Tracking?
85% of the world’s ocean freight is transported by the top 10 ocean carriers, according to Alphaliner data, at the time of writing this. If all a shipper’s ocean freight is covered by only those carriers, there are still more than a few websites that users would need to visit to collect their container tracking data. Below are the three top carriers of ocean tracking data, according to the number of inquiries per month—OOCL, Evergreen, and Wan Hai.
OOCL (Part of COSCO Group)
Global searches per month: 350,000
Search by: Bill of Lading, Container, Booking, Vessel, or Rail
Global searches per month: 320,000
Search by: Bill of Lading, Container, or Booking
Global searches per month: 200,000
Search by: Bill of Lading, Container, Release, or Booking
How a Container Tracking API Ends the Endless Search for Updates
Shippers can use their carriers’ tracking websites to retrieve their container data, but this manual and repetitive task is also time-consuming and prone to user errors. An API, however, provides an alternative that offers efficiency and increases productivity. Instead of requiring multiple systems to search for updates, an API that is integrated with the shipper’s existing freight management system automatically supplies real-time updates, eliminating clicks and saving time. API-provided data also includes information gathered from different types of sources, data which is cleaned, standardized, and brought to the shipper’s system to help them form a complete picture of their ocean freight.
Save Time Tracking Ocean Containers with VIZION
The big opportunity of visibility is having data available and—importantly—having it easily accessible. If a user must dig for the information they need, it’s not supporting the visibility goal. An API, as VIZION offers, brings the data you need to where it can serve your workflows best, so users can avoid the dependence on frequenting different carrier sites. Providing real-time updates, alerts, and standardized milestones, VIZION gives shippers and BCOs complete data and allows them to save substantial time. Reach out to VIZION today to learn more about how we make ocean container tracking easy.