For years, the issue of how to track a freight shipment at sea caused many sleepless nights among stakeholders at all levels of a global supply chain. And for good reason: container tracking data was largely inaccessible and messy. EDI messaging was not in real time, and was restricted to “big” customers. What data could be pulled together involved a time-consuming, tedious manual process. One that could consume up to 40% of an operations team’s time to collect by hand, and then take up 70% of the analytics team’s time trying to standardize it.
The solution to streamline and standardize processes and data is in the form of shipment tracking APIs (application programming interfaces) which connect disparate systems to form a collaborative business ecosystem with end-to-end visibility that drives informed decision making. In short, APIs used for tracking ocean containers are helping drive the ongoing digital transformation of global supply chains, as evidenced by the many use cases that are common today.
What is Freight Shipment Tracking via API?
Container freight tracking via API is a modern approach to gaining insights into location status and other detailed information regarding every cargo shipment in the network. Simply put, an API is a software-based connection that makes it possible for two or more systems to communicate and share vital information.
What are the Use Cases?
As digital transformation continues to drive the evolution of global supply chains, shipment tracking through the use of APIs is taking on even greater scope and importance. Here are several current use cases for cargo tracking APIs.
1. REDUCE MANUAL, ERROR-PRONE HUMAN DATA COLLECTION
Automation streamlines the process of getting real-time statuses and other data, and makes it all available in a universal format that easily integrates with other systems. It’s easy to collect quality data in a timely fashion, using fewer people, and without the risk of introducing human error that comes with multiple touch points of data entry.
2. STRATEGIC AGILITY SUPPORTED BY EASY ACCESS, STANDARDIZATION, AND ENRICHMENT
Shipment tracking APIs provide ready access to every single container across the entire business, which makes it much easier to identify and take action when exceptions occur. Only when using standardized data available through a single source of truth is it possible to understand the context needed to build an enriched story around the questions, “Where is my container?” and “When will it arrive?”
3. INJECT VISIBILITY INTO YOUR ERP, TMS, WMS, OR OTHER SYSTEMS
It is imperative to have complete information (including location) for every container, along with the flexibility to share that valuable information with key stakeholders, in real time, via their own systems. Using a cloud-based API is like putting high-octane fuel in a Ferrari -- achieving better quality data and realizing greater value faster through seamless integration that meets customers where they are most comfortable.
4. DEVELOP VISIBILITY WEB APPLICATIONS FOR CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE AND OPS
Visibility is now a crucial value add across the board. Supply chain professionals and freight forwarders are using APIs to streamline operations -- for instance, as a control tower to track purchase orders, shipment status, and inventory levels. In addition to booking freight (traditionally done manually), forwarders are developing software solutions so that customers can self-serve. APIs enable forwarders and logistics service providers to extend their brands to customers.
5. GENERATE DAILY OR HOURLY REPORTS ON CONTAINER STATUS UPDATES
A shipment tracking API provides a single source of truth for obtaining and sharing container status updates in real time. This is especially crucial for the bigger Cargo owners, who most likely have three or more 3PL partners and freight forwarders. A cargo tracking API provides the flexibility to scale as the business evolves, whether that entails growth or simply the frequent changes in supply chain partners.
6. ACTIVATE ANALYTICS PIPELINE FOR SUPPLY CHAIN PLANNING OR CARRIER SELECTION
In today’s supply chain datascape, it is more important than ever to leverage analytics to drive value beyond typical track-and-trace efforts. Are datasets ready to provide valuable insights into exception management, demurrage and detention, and routing? Shipment tracking APIs drive quality insights that empower stakeholders to make better decisions in real time as global supply chains become even more sophisticated. This also aids in evaluating carrier selection and performance.
7. DEVELOP ALERTS FOR EXCEPTIONS AND CHANGES IN ETAS
Freight shipping with tracking through an API enables the creation of real-time alerts associated with containers and cargo throughout the journey. Updates are automatically pushed to stakeholders anytime there is a change in data. Satellite AIS tracking on each ship provides precise location, making it easy to know when ocean container ETAs have changed.
8. IDENTIFY POTENTIAL DETENTION AND DEMURRAGE FEES
Using an API connection for freight shipment tracking provides a single source of truth for data insights. This removes the mystification because stakeholders are operating using the same exact data sets. This brings clarity and vision to collaborate and ultimately take whatever steps are necessary to reduce detention and demurrage fees.
9. POWER RPAS (ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATIONS)
Supply chains across all industries continue to evolve at the speed of technology. As RPA becomes more commonplace in today’s competitive landscape, it is crucial that datasets can not only tackle the tasks of today but also are ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Robust API connectors can play a critical role in establishing RPA workflows.
Get All This and More with VIZION’s Container Tracking API
VIZION is an innovative ocean tracking API, delivering usable, standardized, and reliable container updates from 98% of all global shipments. We partner with our customers to understand what information they need, how they need it delivered, and ensure that we give them the advantage they need to make better decisions in the global supply chain. To learn more, schedule a demo today.