It’s never been more challenging for shippers to simply know where their ocean freight is, when it will arrive, and why it was delayed. They expect container visibility at all times, with accurate, real-time status updates and precise ETAs. And why not? If Amazon can provide that, why can’t you?
The truth is, however, today’s supply chains are ill-equipped to meet modern business customer demands. Decision-making data, processes, and traditional methods for logistics are static and lack the agility needed today. That is why the move toward digital transformation continues to gain momentum.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of container visibility, and how that visibility—or lack thereof—impacts the seven key stakeholders who need valuable data to not only answer the question, “Where is my container?” but also to drive continuous improvements that will result in on-time and in-full deliveries. Finally, we will explore how API-driven container visibility can give you a competitive edge through actionable exception management that will build customer loyalty.
Why is Container Visibility & Clean, Quality Data Critical?
The increasing dynamics and complexity of international trade is driving an industry-wide move toward supply chain digital transformation. The lack of essential data infrastructure is crippling advancements to digitize trade. Application programming interface (API) technology is radically changing the supply chain landscape because it enables multiple applications in a network of partners to seamlessly exchange business-critical data, functionalities, and actionable insights. An API for container visibility is only as good as the data it is transmitting. You must have data that is clean, complete, and standardized across all major carriers.
7 Key Stakeholders: Why They Need Data & How They Use It
With each container shipment, there are up to seven stakeholders who rely on real-time data associated with that container. Let’s take a closer look at who they are and why container visibility data plays such an important role in their success.
1. CARGO OWNERS
- Examples: Beneficial Cargo Owners (Retailers such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc.), Suppliers (Continental) & Manufacturers (Bosch)
- What they do: The suppliers who provide the parts, manufacturers who make the goods, and retailers who sell the finished products.
- WHAT DATA DO THEY NEED AND WHY: They want to know the status of their shipment(s) at any given time, and when they are going to arrive. Retailers, suppliers and manufacturers also need to know when disruption occurs, so they can make arrangements to source products from alternative locations if needed.
Freight Management Service Providers
2. CARRIERS /STEAMSHIP LINES
- Examples: CMA CGM, Evergreen, Maersk
- What they do: Their sole purpose is to ensure the safe transportation of loaded containers from the point of origin to the destination.
- Examples: Expeditors International, Orient Express Container, APEX Shipping
- What they do: A Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) is a cargo aggregator who arranges for the storage and shipping of merchandise with carriers on behalf of shippers. NVOCCs do not own any vessel but act as a carrier by accepting the legal responsibilities of a carrier that issues its own Bill of Lading. NVOCCs can own or operate their own or leased containers. Essentially, NVOCCs are like a co-op; the larger they get, the more power they will have when negotiating for capacity and rates with carriers.
4. OCEAN FREIGHT FORWARDERS
- Examples: Kuehne+Nagel Inc., Sinotrans Limited, DB Schenker
- What they do: Like NVOOCs, freight forwarders arrange storage and shipping of merchandise with carriers on behalf of shippers. However, freight forwarders do not issue a Bill of Lading; therefore, they are not liable for any damage or loss while the cargo is in transit. The liabilities of the freight forwarder extend only to possible errors on their part, such as incorrect or incomplete paperwork, according to JayMcGhee Logistics.
- Examples: XPO Logistics, C.H. Robinson,
- What they do: Manages warehousing and transportation moves for the BCO/cargo owner. Logistics providers traditionally rely on track and trace to retrieve status updates.
- Examples: Accenture, Geodis, Deloitte
- What they do: Manage multiple 3PLs. Whereas 3PLs typically focus on one aspect of logistics (for example, warehousing), 4PLs offer the holistic approach of overseeing all aspects of the supply chain. As explained by Penske Logistics: “A 4PL typically directs every moving part within the customer's supply chain and serves as a single point of contact for all parties involved. “ This role “typically includes managing and analyzing large amounts of data, overseeing transportation management, managing other 3PLs and transportation service providers, supervising warehouse operations, or operating any other portion of the supply chain.”
- WHAT DATA FREIGHT MANAGEMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS NEED AND WHY: Freight forwarders, NVOCCs, and logistics service providers must be able to inform cargo owners of shipment location, status, and any exceptions at a moment’s notice. The need for reliable container visibility and real-time status updates and ETAs is undeniable. Operations teams rely on accurate ETAs when scheduling drivers, vehicles and warehouse labor. Discrepancies between a carrier ETA and actual arrival time results in idle labor and vehicles, and could lead to increased demurrage and detention charges. Plus, since in-transit containers can be claimed for street turn once empty, doing so would shorten the order-to-cash cycle, mitigate detention and demurrage, and turn a significant expense into a revenue stream. In addition, cleansed and standardized shipment details will help reduce costs associated with demurrage, detention, and ocean freight rates. Historical data can also be used to identify anomalies and root causes, which aids in predictive planning and operational improvements for all parties.
7. DIGITAL SOLUTIONS PROVIDERS
- Transportation Management Systems (jda, Blujay, 3Gtms, Cloud Logistics)
- Supply Chain Visibility Platforms (project44, FourKites, E2Open, Nexus)
- Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Syspro)
- Warehouse Management Systems (Fishbowl Inventory,. Tecsys, Softeon, SAPWM)
- Digital Freight Marketplaces (FreightMango)
- WHAT DATA IS NEEDED AND WHY: Shipment manifest data, such as port of lading, port of unlading, shipping line details, the final destination, vessel, voyage and list of container numbers and types. They also need all milestone data, such as empty-out, full-in, vessel loaded, vessel discharged, vessel arrived, full out, and empty returned. Finally, they need data related to terminal availability, such as Last Free Day, Accessorials required, yard location, and pickup status, etc.
VIZION API Provides the Most Complete, Standardized Container Tracking Data
No matter your role in ocean freight management, you need consistent container visibility and data. VIZION API solutions provide the essential data needed to optimize global supply chains direct from steamship lines, port terminals, US rail operators, US drayage operators, and AIS satellite-based vessel tracking. We automatically push the most complete, standardized, and detailed container tracking events to any software system. This is the digitized supply chain in action. It’s reliable, predictive, continuous visibility and business intelligence that empowers you to plan ahead and proactively manage unforeseen events and delays that incur unwanted costs. Let us show you how VIZION API provides turnkey access to the most complete, standardized, and detailed container tracking events, faster and cheaper than building it in-house. Schedule a demo today.