If the supply chain network is the system that keeps things moving, then ocean freight transportation is the energy that fuels the system. Maintaining high levels of transparency and good ocean freight visibility is critical for successful delivery. Implementing reliable track and trace processes for ocean containers is crucial for today's ocean freight industry. This is especially true in light of current market trends, customer demands, and economic instabilities. In April 2022, Fortune magazine reported this point in an April 2022 report, "A shortage of trucks to haul containers from the port is impeding the clearance of imports[...] Shanghai is now the epicenter of China's worst COVID outbreak in two years, with almost 20,000 new cases reported" in a single day. While such pandemic-era crises may now be a thing of the past, today’s shippers nonetheless learned a hard lesson from pandemic-era supply chain chaos: supply chain crises can strike at any time, and without resilience, even the most robust supply chains are doomed to fail.
Facing today’s challenges — port labor issues worldwide, the persistent specter of global economic turmoil, and an increasingly tight-fisted regulatory environment — shippers are under more pressure than ever to bolster visibility, control, and resilience in high-stakes supply chains. For this reason, today’s shippers are turning to ocean container tracking.
This article will cover what ocean container tracking is, the common challenges to obtaining ocean container visibility for today’s shippers, and how smart shippers are leveraging innovative container tracking solutions to restructure for resilience.
What is Ocean Container Tracking?
Materials and goods typically go through many touchpoints before getting into the hands of the buyer. Each change of hands offers a point where goods can be damaged, misplaced, incorrectly routed, or held up. While essential to today’s globalized transportation process, these touchpoints are critical vulnerabilities for today’s supply chains. Without adequate visibility from the beginning to the end of the ocean freight transportation process, shippers lack a sufficient understanding of their operations.
Ocean container tracking maximizes the information a logistics provider and shipper can see throughout the duration of the transportation process. By integrating ocean container tracking technology into the critical stages of the logistics process, providers can incorporate visibility for more precise insights and build transparent, resilient supply chains:
- Order Stage – Ocean container tracking provides insight into the quantity and product type ordered by a customer.
- In-Transit Stage – Products are followed every step of their journey through an integrated ocean container tracking platform, providing real-time location and status updates.
- Invoice and Audit Stage – Final steps of deals between sellers, LSPs, and buyers are completed efficiently, with the analytics garnered by ocean container tracking software acting as a key proponent of supply chain optimization.
With ocean container tracking integrated into all stages of the transportation process, shippers can gain insight into vulnerable touchpoints and optimize efficiency from end to end.
Challenges of Obtaining Ocean Freight Visibility
While ocean container tracking technology reduces gaps and barriers, working overseas still has increased challenges. Traditionally, visibility required transport managers to keep track of shipments and provide manual updates.
Without a system of continuous tracking and automated notifications, getting real-time information is impossible.
Now, technology has enabled automated insights without any dependency on carriers. There are ways to access accurate tracking information, but data alone doesn’t solve the issue of ocean freight visibility. Companies increase the amount of information available, but this can cause a messy and unstructured process that further burdens their teams.
When ocean container tracking data is collected, many companies struggle to manage it and turn it into actionable insights.
Companies want more information to help them provide better shipping ETAs and expectations for their team, partners, and customers, but they also must be able to manage that data. Overloading teams with information can create more problems than it solves.
With these challenges in mind, it’s clear that today’s shippers need more than half-measures and empty promises from their ocean container tracking providers. They need reliable, end-to-end ocean container tracking solutions, complete with standardized data and actionable analytics. For ocean transportation professionals, there are several ways to access the ocean container tracking needed to build resilient, high-performing supply chains.
3 Strategies to Optimize Ocean Container Tracking
If you want to improve ocean freight tracking without relying on carriers to take an active role, you need smarter tech. By utilizing these key features of an ocean container tracking software platform, shippers can ensure access to reliable, standardized ocean container tracking data without relying on inaccurate carrier data.
First, you can track shipments via an ocean container tracking API (Application Programmable Interface). Detailed information is regularly sent out to provide quality data and increase transparency—no matter where your freight is on the journey. Avoid the manual work of ocean container tracking data entry by using a system that does it all for you. A single, data-driven API simplifies your tracking process and increases transparency for stakeholders throughout the transportation process.
Data Enrichment and Actionable Analytics
Next, consider how enriched cargo tracking data could help improve your ocean freight visibility. With data-driven ocean container tracking technology, you can add on tracking features to see even more throughout various steps of the logistics journey:
- Enhanced locations
- Enhanced terminal visibility
- Vessel verification
- Customs data
- Live ETAs
- Live Monitoring
With reliable, standardized container tracking data from all points throughout the transportation process, shippers can quickly identify pain points and previously-missed opportunities for optimization. However, not all ocean container tracking data is created equal; by partnering with a container tracking provider that moves beyond raw data to actionable analytics, shippers can easily find opportunities for growth and optimization.
End-to-End Goes Beyond the Port
While the ocean transportation industry may primarily concern itself with the high seas, today’s ocean transportation professionals know the importance of visibility goes beyond the port. In an increasingly interconnected digital supply chain, shippers must have access to reliable visibility over all containerized operations, from start point to final destination.
By partnering with an ocean container tracking partner that has integrated rail tracking capabilities, shippers can harness the power of container tracking throughout their operations, ensuring that their supply chains are resilient to the problems common to high-stakes intermodal exchange points.
Evaluating an Ocean Container Tracking Provider: The Must-Haves
By 2026, the number of containers capable of being tracked throughout transportation will reach 33.1 million, up from 11.1 million in 2021. The value of the market will increase at a stunning 14.1% during that time frame, with the global container tracking market set to hit USD $3.16B by 2026. With this growth forecasted for the near future, today’s shippers have more options than ever for ocean container tracking.
With so many options, it can be understandably difficult for shippers to decide which ocean container tracking software is right for their operations. By prioritizing a few key features, shippers can ensure they get the most out of their container tracking partner.
Review Data From Across All Modes Available for Consideration
While ocean cargo shipments are their unique mode of transportation, shippers may use other methods in conjunction with drayage and beyond. Different service providers may have access to carriers and shippers who use secondary transportation modes such as air and rail to complete the final delivery of goods. Strong ocean freight visibility and a reliable industry provider make it easier to utilize available options and secure the fastest and most reliable options for shipper demands.
Assess Data Quality and Reliability to Get Started Strong
Ocean freight visibility relies heavily on accurate data, real-time statistics, and live updates. Knowing where ships and containers are at any given time, what delays are expected, and what disruptions currently impact shipments makes it easier to coordinate with customers about altered ETA and delivery arrangements. Quality real-time data analytics and practical application processes allow carriers and shippers to coordinate and collaborate more efficiently.
Ensure Visibility Across Operations
As the global supply chain continues to evolve and grow, shippers are realizing the importance of building visibility across a wide range of carriers to prevent and mitigate the consequences of disruptions. Through a partnership with an ocean container tracking provider that partners with a wide range of global ocean container carriers, shippers can ensure visibility and performance across all operations, regardless of who is carrying their containerized freight. Shippers can build the resilient supply chains their customers demand by ensuring their ocean container visibility platform can access the following major ocean carriers.
- ANL Container Tracking
- CMA-CGM Container Tracking
- COSCO Container Tracking
- EGLV Container Tracking
- Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) Container Tracking
- Hamburg-Süd Container Tracking
- Hapag-Lloyd Container Tracking
- Heung-A Container Tracking
- Korean Marine Transport Co Container Tracking
- Maersk Container Tracking
- MSC Container Tracking
- Ocean Network Express (ONE) Container Tracking
- OOCL Container Tracking
- RCL Container Tracking
- Safmarine Container Tracking
- Sealand Container Tracking
- Sinokor Container Tracking
- SM Lines Container Tracking
- W.E.C. Lines Container Tracking
- Wan Hai Container Tracking
- Westwood Container Tracking
- Yang Ming Container Tracking
- ZIM Container Tracking
- Matson Container Tracking
- Gold Star Line Container Tracking
- Pacific International Line Container Tracking
However, today’s shippers understand that ocean container tracking doesn’t end at the port. Shippers can ensure end-to-end intermodal visibility over high-stakes containerized freight by partnering with an ocean container tracking software provider that offers integrated rail tracking through the seven major railroads.
- BNSF Container Tracking
- Canadian National Railway Container Tracking
- Canadian Pacific Container Tracking
- CSX Container Tracking
- Kansas City Southern Container Tracking
- Norfolk Southern Container Tracking
- Union Pacific Container Tracking
Consider Actionable Insights and Value Gained From Data
One of the reasons why shippers and carriers partner with industry experts that understand ocean freight visibility is to reap the benefits of such a partnership. A good provider pulls guidance from accurate ocean tracking data and can offer actionable insights and recommendations. Shippers and carriers alike can benefit from better insights into ocean freight logistics. Having industry experts for advice can make it easier to manage freight and balance profits and expenses.
Evaluate Whether Data Use Can Automate Workflows
Another reason to partner with providers experienced with ocean freight visibility is to utilize automated technologies. Automating work, reducing back-office staffing hours, maximizing profits, capitalizing on available capacity, and maintaining customer satisfaction have become more feasible with automated systems that reduce waste. A supply chain visibility provider helps automate and streamline the move to optimize the entire ocean transport process.
Consider the Ability to Connect Data to Other Companies' Systems
When looking for the best ocean freight visibility provider, it is essential to consider what connections and industry insights will be accessible within the system. Such insights should make networking within the shipping and transportation industry easier and improve collaborations between shippers, carriers, brokers, and customers. The right industry experts provide a real-time container tracking view of the marketplace, allowing for greater profits and improved ROI from start to finish.
With End-to-End Ocean Container Tracking, Shippers Gain an Invaluable Advantage
With ocean container tracking, shippers can gain an invaluable advantage over their competition. The right ocean container tracking software provider leverages the latest innovations in containerized transportation to build transparent, efficient, and resilient supply chains.
With ocean container tracking, ocean transportation professionals can increase ocean container visibility across all operations. With improved, real-time visibility, shippers can rest easy knowing the precise location of their high-stakes ocean container freight at all times.
As industry leaders and regulators continue to push for ever more efficient, sustainable supply chains, shippers often struggle to access the metrics they need. Through a partnership with an ocean container tracking provider, shippers can gain access to the data they need to prove the efficacy of their efforts to bolster efficiency throughout operations. Furthermore, by partnering with an ocean container transportation provider with a collaborative partner ecosystem, shippers can gain the insights of carbon-tracking professionals to access unprecedented levels of accountability with their supply chains.
If the pandemic taught the global supply chain anything, it’s the importance of resilience. With ocean container tracking software integrated throughout all ocean freight transportation operations, shippers can accurately understand all containerized operations. With this understanding and real-time exception alerts for port charges, rolled cargo, and demurrage and detention, shippers can build the resilient supply chain their customers expect.
For Industry-Leading Supply Chain Resilience, Smart Shippers Choose Ocean Container Tracking From VIZION API
In a volatile transportation industry, shippers must have access to the ocean container tracking they need. By partnering with VIZION API, shippers can access the latest ocean container tracking innovation. VIZION API offers shippers access to an integral range of ocean container tracking assets, including:
- End-to-End Visibility over 98% of global shipments.
- Integrated Exception Alerts to keep shippers up-to-date with all transportation events, including blank sailings, demurrage and detention, and vessel delays.
- Actionable Analytics to continuously optimize supply chains.
Book a demo with VIZION API, and see what the future of container tracking can do for your business today.