Across the supply chain and logistics industry organizations and operators know in their gut that ocean visibility data leaves something to be desired, but do we know the specifics of that suspicion? The age old questions of “Where is my shipment?”, “What is the shipment’s condition?”, and “When will it arrive?” well… they continue to age. In other aspects of the logistics industry there has been improvement. Companies like Amazon have reset expectations and in some cases reset what is considered to be the necessities when it comes to shipment visibility. The world is changing, ocean visibility will also need to change, but how?
We are currently an industry in transition. Digitization has been a hot topic since the first AS400s and the dawn of the Internet age. COVID-19 accelerated this transition, yet this transition is not a simple undertaking. Few challenges survive their thorough definition. This is the opening post of a series that will dig into the details of ocean visibility quality, how to measure that quality, what could be a new baseline expectation of quality, and what improvements might be possible.
Today, the lofty goal for visibility in sea freight is delivering detailed information and accurate predictions on the events occurring between a supplier’s door and a consignee’s door.
Data Quality Dimension How is it measured?
- Completeness - Fulfills expectations of what is required and comprehensive?
- Accuracy - How well does a piece of information reflect reality?
- Timeliness - Is your information available when you need it?
- Consistency - Does information stored in one place match relevant data stored elsewhere?
Container Status Events
For every ocean shipment there are events you expect to see reported the vast majority of the time. Understanding how often you receive those events for your shipments is the measure of completeness.
WHAT EVENTS SHOULD YOU RECEIVE FOR EVERY SHIPMENT?
- Empty Container Dispatched to Shipper
- Gate-In Full at Origin Port Terminal
- Container Loaded Onto Vessel
- Vessel Departs Origin Port
- Vessel Arrives at Destination Port
- Container Discharged from Vessel
- Gate-out Full to Consignee
- Empty Container Returned
In reality the events you should receive are not always the events you do receive. The ocean carriers currently provide container status events via EDI messages, API services, and Track & Trace websites. Not every carrier provides each of these connections, but major carriers typically provide the first two and there is growing momentum to offer APIs. Regardless of the connection you choose there are issues with receiving all the events you expect.
In general, the ocean carriers perform well at providing status events when a shipment begins, but as the shipment progresses the reporting performance drops off closer to the destination. Below is a chart reporting inform reported by 10 major carriers provided on their track and trace websites that covers 100k+ container events and with representative samples of all the major trade lanes. You’ll see the drop off in reporting of required events as a shipment progresses, with notable drops in events associated with vessels and the destination port.
“YOU’LL SEE THE DROP OFF IN REPORTING OF REQUIRED EVENTS AS A SHIPMENT PROGRESSES, WITH NOTABLE DROPS IN EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH VESSELS AND THE DESTINATION PORT.”
Extended Container Status Events
Beyond the events that are required or expected for every shipment there is an additional extended set of events provided by ocean carriers. These events can represent activities by different modes of transportation, such as rail, truck, or barge. Additionally, these events can provide greater detail into facility activities, such as vessel at berth, customs release, and available for pickup. Generally speaking, the ocean carriers consistency in reporting these extended events fluctuates greatly based on trade lane, port, terminal, etc. so the data typically needs to be sourced from elsewhere.
Value-Add Data Enrichment
The need to improve carrier container tracking data is felt nearly universally. There are a few options to help improve visibility beyond just what the carriers provide. These additional data sources are value-add and commonly align with a specific business use case.
Want to have better lead times? You will need to understand when the vessel is arriving at the destination port with more frequently updated and more accurate ETAs. These insights can be sourced and built out utilizing AIS data to track the vessel.
Want to understand when a container is available for pickup or if the empty container has been returned to the port or terminal container yard? Then you’ll need to tap into the port terminal systems for the specific ports you utilize.
Need to reduce detention and demurrage fees? You’ll need drayage events provided by the common dray tendering systems or TMS platforms.
Want to access value-add enrichment today? Start a conversation with a VIZION Expert on how VIZION integrates data from many different sources to provide the highest quality and most extensive ocean visibility door-to-door.