The Many Data Streams of Container Visibility

The Many Data Streams of Container Visibility

A vital attribute of achieving high-quality container visibility is deriving the underlying data from multiple sources. Like the idea of having multiple cameras filming the same event from different angles, these various data sources all contribute to getting a better picture of the container within the supply chain. One source can’t capture all details of what is going on, but we can get a complete picture by compiling and filling in the gaps with snapshots from different sources.

Container visibility relies on milestone events to cover the container’s journey as thoroughly as possible. Multiple data streams for gathering milestone events improve the data quality for all shipments, making it more reliable for understanding where the container is and its ETA. This data can then go beyond basic tracking and extend to providing additional value — helping shippers identify and solve the biggest challenges of the shipment process.

Data Streams and Enrichments for Container Visibility via API

Data enrichment contributes to the most complete set of data possible for container visibility. This brings together a collection of streams — API, EDI, AIS, web data extraction, rail, and terminal websites. With an API like VIZION, these sources feed add-on functionality, as organized below by category.

  1. Enhanced location add-ons supply detailed information down to the facility level of location specificity, plus geocoding for a city, state, and country, UN/LOCODES, and Lat/Long coordinates. In the U.S., this add-on also provides destination yards, gates, and empty return events, detention and demurrage times, and information on each party.
  2. Enhanced terminal visibility gives a more detailed look into the situation at the port terminal. This information includes showing what is available for pickup, any carrier, customs, or VGM holds, fees, and last free days. 
  3. Vessel verification provides the functionality to identify every vessel carrying a container, giving the full name, IMO and MMSI numbers, and the voyage code. 
  4. Customs data, available within the U.S., gives additional information, including the BOL number, place of receipt, port of loading and of destination, each party’s information, a cargo description, weight, and tariff information. 
  5. Vessel tracking and live ETAs as an add-on gathers data globally from terrestrial, satellite, and mobile AIS signals to give real-time ETA calculation updates. 
  6. Enhanced rail add-on brings visibility to Class I railroads in North America, updating for status events and sharing ETAs.

The API provides the organization of all this data in an easy interface. It allows users to find any container it tracks according to container number, master bill of lading, or auto carrier identification and receive milestone events. Part of the value of a visibility solution is the standardization it provides across multiple carriers’ milestone events. VIZION API takes over 7,000 unique events and converts them to 60 manageable milestones, checking for new updates every six hours. A webhook pushes data, including ETAs, to the user’s system, removing any friction the user could experience.

One Container’s Journey Tracked by Milestone Events

The following sequence of milestone events shows how a container connects to various updates throughout its journey from empty to stuffed and in transit to empty again.

Gate out empty at the origin port:

The available, empty container has been sent out to be loaded with goods for transport.

Gate in full at origin port

The container has returned to the carrier, now stuffed and ready to go.

Container Yard Cut-Off (CY Cut-Off)

The carrier sets this deadline and alerts the shipper to have the container gated in to stay on schedule.

Loaded on the vessel at the origin port

The stuffed container has been moved onto a ship, waiting for departure.

Vessel departure from origin port

With the container on board, the vessel has left the port of origin to begin its journey.

Destination ETA

The estimated arrival of the container to its destination is calculated and sent to the cargo owner.

Vessel port call without container discharge

The vessel has stopped at a port unrelated to the container; transshipment or discharge is not scheduled for this container.

Transshipment Port

The vessel and container have arrived at the transshipment port for the container to be later loaded onto a different ship to continue its journey.

ETA Change

If the carrier calculates a new ETA for the container to its destination port, it sends an alert with the updated ETA.

Vessel arrival at the destination port

The vessel has arrived and is waiting for a berth at the container’s destination port.

Discharged from the vessel at the destination port

The ship has berthed, the container discharged at the destination port, and the demurrage time clock has started.

Gate out full from destination port

The full container has left the port to be unloaded, ending the clock on demurrage and starting the clock on detention.

Gate in empty return

The container has been emptied and returned to the carrier, ending the detention time clock.

Get Complete Supply Chain Visibility

Visibility solutions must be thorough to be effective. VIZION compiles many streams of data for the most complete visibility possible, with data enrichments according to your needs and demand, brought to end-users as a frictionless API. By tracking the location and status of your containers, your business gets a more transparent supply chain process, helping you stay proactive and manage by exception. Book a demo with VIZION to get started today.

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