Shippers want to take advantage of intermodal freight transportation's savings, safety, and sustainability. Intermodal opens up all of the advantages of specific modes, but only if the container is visible. Otherwise, the benefits become questionable, and no one wants to engage in a process that might or might not deliver.
Intermodal container tracking is defined as coordinating multiple modes of transportation to move goods from one location to another. The method utilizes numerous interchanges, including rail, ocean, air, and truck transportation, and saves shippers time and money while reducing emissions.
Intermodal Shipping Offers Unique Challenges
In the past, intermodal shipping has come with problems and barriers to realizing its substantial benefits. In fact, the challenges often far outweighed the benefits that could change the game for shippers simply because they couldn’t manage the entire process effectively.
Some of the biggest challenges in intermodal freight transport have been:
- Transportation companies have frequently failed to provide reliable services: Providing reliable services is a hallmark of customer satisfaction. While customers want to know their goods will arrive on time, there has traditionally been a lack of flexibility in the transport chain. As demand grows for intermodal transport, this reliability could continue to break down.
- Integrated and flexible IT systems are needed for intermodal to meet growing demands for high service levels: Logistics companies fail when they lack visibility across the entire supply chain. Shippers without adequate tech-enabled solutions have visibility voids in their intermodal strategies that leave them subject to exceptions, not in control of them. Shippers must invest in technology to realize intermodal transport savings, safety, and sustainability.
- Demand for intermodal transport is growing: Several industries, including automotive and fast-moving consumer goods, have increased intermodal demand. Improved transit times and new infrastructure developments have increased the competitiveness of shipping via intermodal.
- An inability to react or be proactive: Intermodal transport has had gaps in visibility and updates, often leaving shippers hanging to know what has happened or the location of their freight. Should it be hours before the shipper and other stakeholders learn about an exception, the ability to manage it is tremendously reduced. The late notification could also destroy the opportunity to be proactive and plan for other contingencies.
Intermodal Container Tracking Offers Powerful Benefits for Shippers
Despite past challenges, intermodal container shipping is gaining popularity due to its tremendous benefits. When container tracking comes into play, shippers stand to realize the full advantages of intermodal where once before there were limitations.
Real-Time Location Tracking
Knowing the location and state of a container in real time changes the game for shippers. It is now possible to know if the container is moving or sitting in the railyard accumulating high fees.
Whereas shippers once sat in the dark, they now have access to ETAs and know if they are meeting customer expectations. There is no more wasting time calling carriers only to receive partial or inaccurate information. Tracking errors are eliminated, and new APIs seamlessly integrate with existing systems.
Should the container stop moving, shippers know now and immediately start working to remedy the situation and prepare for the downstream impacts.
Status Updates and Event Monitoring
With multiple shipments in play, it’s easy for shippers to lose track and be subject to demurrage and detention fees. Intermodal container tracking alerts shippers and stakeholders to critical milestones such as the last free date and available for pickup events, cutting the high cost of fees.
Complete supply chain visibility eliminates gap events with the most significant potential to turn into high-cost events; instead, fees are slashed.
Push events notify stakeholders of necessary crucial updates that keep everyone on the same page, improve collaboration, and keep cargo moving.
Using an API to enable intermodal container tracking means plug-and-play functionality without the cost and time of internal systems development. An API seamlessly integrates with a current tech stack and pushes complete and standardized container tracking events to any software system or spreadsheet.
Shippers gain a truly visible supply chain, and disparate carrier events are standardized, making them easy to understand. What once might have been a unique event when tracking through each carrier becomes a standardized milestone.
Shippers gain access to instant tracking through an API and can turn that information into streamlined transportation data, eventually improving operational efficiency.
While intermodal container tracking is invaluable as a shipment progresses through the supply chain, today’s shippers demand technology that improves present performance and bolsters future effectiveness.
By integrating performance-monitoring data collection practices into daily supply chain operations, shippers can see precisely when and where slowdowns and inefficiencies occur. Integrated KPIs ensure that shippers move beyond a complicated jumble of raw data and gain instant access to a vast array of actionable transportation analytics. Shippers can better understand their supply chain and improve operations with this information.
Enhancing Supply Chain Efficiency and Visibility
The past years of an unreliable supply chain which has seen growth in costs and complexity have ushered in the advent of the digital supply chain. Visibility has to exist across all transportation modes to complete the move to digitization and enable shippers to realize the benefits of intermodal transport.
The digital solution must encompass the entire supply chain for an end-to-end management strategy to take root. Once shippers see across all modes and can analyze their performance data, they build supply chain resilience, grow their efficiencies, plan for future disruptions, and boost their service levels.
Shippers with a comprehensive view outperform and exceed customer expectations in the new digital supply chain.
“While the foundations of good customer service stay the same, customer expectations and the way we deliver great service are constantly shifting,” said Jason Fowler, president of Air and Sea, a transportation company that provides complete multimodal shipping and logistics solutions. “Digitizing our customer experience is helping us evolve and enhance, and it’s also helping us get a foot in the door with more new business.”
Shippers need a robust, tech-enabled solution to meet customer needs and develop a competitive advantage.
Tracking Must Extend to All Modes of Transport
A shipper wanting to benefit from intermodal transport needs visibility across every mode to realize the total benefits. When all aspects of the supply chain become visible, it is only then that a whole strategy may be formulated.
Shippers that truly wish to benefit from the digital supply chain employ intermodal container tracking to eliminate voids of little to no information and gain the ability to track their containers fully, know statuses and events in real-time, and seamlessly export data from an API to other systems in their tech stack.
Shippers with intermodal tracking take control of their supply chain and build its resilience.
VIZION API enables shippers to track their containers across modes with ocean and rail tracking, analytics, and standardized event notifications. Using VIZION API, shippers take control of their supply chain, improve collaboration with stakeholders, and understand their shipping performance.
Book a demo with VIZION API today to see the benefits of intermodal tracking.