Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has established itself as a global leader in shipping and logistics since its founding in 1970. The company’s service area covers 155 countries, calling at 520 ports on over 300 trade routes. Annually, the company carries over 22.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) worldwide.
What started as a single ocean vessel company now has over 180,000 staff members and a highly diversified portfolio, including logistics services, overland transportation, and port terminal investments.
As leaders in the carrier space continue to consolidate and grow to become worldwide conglomerates like MSC, shippers, brokers, and logistics professionals need to know these carriers' particular ins and outs to optimize their shipping operations.
What is the Mediterranean Shipping Company?
Mediterranean Shipping Company is now the world’s leading ocean carrier. Over 760 container vessels, 180,000 staff members, 22.5 TEU carried annually, and 675 offices worldwide make this company a behemoth and industry trendsetter. It is a company that brings specialized local knowledge to global service.
Gianluigi Aponte established the company in Naples in 1970 when he purchased his first ship, the Patricia. After his purchase of a second ship, the Rafael, transportation of goods between the Mediterranean and Somalia began. As MSC purchased more used container ships, service expanded to Australia and North America, and its headquarters opened in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1978.
The company's ongoing focus on advancement includes adding e-business services, smart containers, and green technologies.
MSC: A Powerful Force in Global Logistics
MSC remains a private company owned by the Aponte family and now operates in all major ports worldwide. It surpassed Maersk to become the largest container shipping company in the world in TEU capacity and operates the world’s two largest container ships, the MSC Tessa and MSC Irina.
Acquisitions have been a growth driver for MSC, diversifying it into new markets and expanding existing services. Notable acquisitions, actions, and partnerships include:
- Bolloré African Logistics – Acquired in 2022 for €25.7 billion.
- Messina Line – In 2017, purchased a 49% stake in this Italian shipping line specializing in the intra-Mediterranean short sea and Europe-to-Africa routes.
- Vessel-sharing agreements with Maersk – Signed in 2015, this vessel-sharing agreement on the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and Asia-Europe trades is called the 2M Alliance. It includes 185 vessels with a 2.1 million TEU estimated capacity. The arrangement comprises a series of slot exchanges and slot purchases on its east-west route and involves the two companies taking over many vessels and charters of HMM. The 2M agreement has a minimum 10-year term and a 2-year notice of termination period. The alliance will terminate in January 2025.
- Medway – MSC began train operations in 2015 by taking over the cargo division of CP and has expanded rail operations from the Iberian peninsula to Italy and beyond.
- Italo – MSC acquired a 50% stake in the passenger rail group Italo in October 2023.
- Pharmaceutical shipping – The company launched a specific shipping service to distribute pharmaceutical products during the pandemic.
Additionally, MSC owns and operates the world’s third-largest cruise company, MSC Cruises, with 23,500 employees.
MSC, The Breakdown
As the largest company of its type in the world, MSC maintains a massive fleet, covers most world regions and trade routes, and offers a tremendous diversity of services and solutions.
The total fleet size operated by MSC is 760 container vessels with a total intake capacity of over 4,631,403 TEU and another 1 million TEU on order as of July 2022.
MSC focuses on ships with larger TEU capacity than competitors. Despite the added cost of purchasing and running larger vessels, the company optimizes routes, making significantly more money when the larger ships are fully loaded. MSC’s ships carry an average of 6,600 TEU versus Maersk’s average of 5,800.
Ship orders since 2008 show an upward trend in their TEU capacity, increasing from 13,000 TEU to as much as 24,000 TEU most recently.
Trade Routes and Regions
With 320 routes to 155 countries, no part of the world is untouched by MSC’s reach. The company covers trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, Asia-to-Europe, Europe-to-Africa, and more.
Operations and Key Services
MSC offers a robust portfolio of services that includes:
- Cross trading
- Cargo trailers
- Customs clearance
- Intermodal transportation and haulage solutions
- Dry cargo
- Project cargo
- Reefer cargo
- Liquid cargo
- Ports, terminals, and depots
- Shipping technology solutions (including smart containers)
- Specialty project and oversized cargo
- Warehousing and storage solutions
- Trade services
Integrated Transportation Solutions
MSC offers ocean shipping, air cargo, inland, and digital solutions.
The company provides dry, liquid, project (oversize), reefer cargo solutions, and trade services on the water. MSC also offers inland intermodal transportation and warehousing services to provide fully integrated transportation solutions.
MSC Container Tracking: A Necessity in Modern Logistics
MSC tracking container isn’t a luxury for shippers; it is a necessity in the post-pandemic world of logistics when price and service volatility have become the new normal. Real-time tracking helps shippers optimize routes, compile valuable data, protect their cargo, and overcome exceptions. With container tracking, shippers optimize their efficiency, delight customers, and gain a competitive advantage.
Challenges for Container Tracking
There have been past challenges for shippers wanting to add container tracking to their operations. Those challenges include:
Shippers that have attempted to develop in-house MSC container tracker solutions have found that the costs and time commitments are substantial and that the final product doesn’t fully address their needs or scale with growth. They often learn too late that they are shippers, not software developers.
Finding a Strong Container Tracking Partner
Post-pandemic has come a rush of venture capital to fund start-ups to meet the growing need for robust technical solutions in the logistics industry, like container tracking MSC. Such an influx has created an environment where many providers will fail once they expend their VC funding, leaving shippers with an unsupported solution.
Whether in-house development or with an external partner, solutions don’t always easily integrate with the shipper’s tech stack. This lack of integration leaves them with only a partial solution. When the data generated isn’t compatible with the systems of other stakeholders, communication remains poor when it could have been tremendously improved.
Efficient Tracking Benefits Everyone
When a container tracking solution is effective, scales with growth, and integrates with existing systems, shippers and all supply chain stakeholders reap the benefits. Shippers save time and money as they take control of supply chain variability, mitigate exceptions, know their pain points, and efficiently move containers. Their customers experience timely deliveries, and the entire supply chain benefits as more and more shippers move their cargo efficiently.
Three Strategies to Optimize MSC Container Tracking
With the size and reach of MSC, shippers will inevitably find a considerable number of their containers aboard an MSC ship during a worldwide journey. The ability to move beyond a blue dot on a screen and realize optimized MSC container tracking revolutionizes how a shipper manages their container shipments.
Leverage Data-Driven Insights
Every movement and milestone in a container’s MSC journey generates data, and the ability to mine that data for new insights changes the entire game for shippers. MSC’s standard container tracking is enhanced when using Vizion API to extract valuable insights from the accumulated data, helping shippers optimize decision-making. They react faster to events in the present and gain the power to plan proactively.
Enable Real-Time Monitoring and Alerts
With Vizion API integrated into their tech stacks, shippers achieve complete real-time monitoring of containers. They can configure proactive alerts and notifications that alleviate the need to actively monitor each container’s status but will notify them immediately when events demand their attention.
Whether it be a port event or container health event, shippers know as soon as it happens, can move to resolve it, and alert other stakeholders.
Enhance Tracking Efficiency through API Integration
The ability to completely integrate an effective API from a world leader in container tracking results in MSC tracking perfection. No internal development is required, and reputable partners ensure quality data. The API integrates seamlessly with preexisting TMS and EDI solutions.
Once fully integrated with an existing tech stack, the benefits of MSC container tracking become maximized by combining Vizion’s capabilities with existing tracking processes. ROI is realized almost immediately without the cost and time associated with in-house development, and the shipper gains a strong partner with a history of logistics success.
Pairing Two Industry Leaders for Success
When a shipper uses the industry-leading container tracking API with the world’s leading container carrier, they win. Tracking becomes easy and complete. They have access to real-time notifications, data analysis, and enhanced communications. Shippers act swiftly to mitigate supply chain volatility. Future disruptions already have solutions and contingencies.
MSC carries more TEU than any other company, meaning few to no shippers will move containers worldwide without benefiting from enhanced MSC container tracking solutions. Using Vizion API, shippers will know more about their MSC containers and be prepared for any situation with an easy-to-implement, scalable container tracking API.
Vizion API is the foremost provider of container tracking and data analysis software. Container events and milestones are standardized for all carriers and quickly become actionable data insights shippers use for continual operational improvement. Shippers become leaner, more efficient, save money, and delight their customers with Vizion API as a trusted partner.