The Big Benefits of Ocean Freight Tracking

Increased visibility remains a topic high on the minds of shippers, freight forwarders, non-vessel owning common carriers (NVOCC), suppliers, and manufacturers. While technologies have progressed to offer end-to-end transparency for over-the-road transport, ocean freight remains susceptible. Moreover, failures within ocean freight management have compounding effects throughout the supply chain. As explained by William B Cassidy of the Journal of Commerce, demurrage remains a common outcome. By some estimates, as few as 60% of US-bound ocean freight arrives on time. Now, advancement has come to the realm of ocean freight management through advanced technologies, including Container Track and Trace (CTT) web applications and application programming interfaces (API).

Increased visibility does much more than giving shippers and trickle-down supply chain partners peace of mind. It has a real effect on the rate of additional charges, including demurrage fees, compliance violations, and more. To justify the investment into new visibility technologies and systems for ocean freight, supply chain partners need to understand the challenges and benefits offered by it. Thus, this white paper will explore:

  • The state of ocean freight visibility and how lacking visibility adds to freight spend.
  • The benefits of increased global ocean freight visibility.
  • Advanced functions capable through data-driven measures that influence supply chain efficiency.
  • How enterprises can take advantage of end-to-end ocean freight visibility.

The Challenges of Ocean Freight Tracking

The challenges of Ocean freight shipping and traceability are easy to understand. Problems reflect the growing demands placed on the industry through the globalization of supply chains, e-commerce, and the Internet. In the US, water logistics costs rose 45.7 billion USD in 2018, and costs are on track to surpass that record in 2019.

Higher logistics costs are not the only result of poor ocean freight visibility. Failures within visibility may lead to demurrage fees and problems with port schedules. Shippers also suffer from the assumption that all ocean carriers are the best sources for data. The fact is that ocean liners work with what they have. Things may go wrong. In this instance, carriers are going to focus on getting freight to the destination as quickly as possible, not necessarily sharing information about shipment status along the way. As more shippers move on to other carriers, carriers raise rates, notes Supply Chain Quarterly.

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Container ship in the River Maas, Netherlands – Photo by Patrick Brinksma (unsplash.com)

Shippers also fall victim to another misconception. A consensus exists that carriers will work to improve the reporting of data on the “next shipment.” Reality tells a different story. If that carrier did not provide reliable data in the past, what can shippers do to expect a change in the future? That is where investing in a different solution, such as Container Track and Trace, adds value.

The Leading Benefits of Better Visibility in Ocean Shipping by Stakeholder

The capability to achieve end-to-end visibility in ocean freight tracking on all containers is a considerable advantage. In today’s age, the value of data declines with age. Shippers need real-time data to understand and respond to changes within the ocean container schedule.

Depending on the type of stakeholders, such as shippers, beneficial cargo owners (BCOs), freight forwarders, or software companies, ocean freight tracking provides unique, substantial benefits.

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A busy cargo port – Photo by chuttersnap (unsplash.com)

Beneficial Cargo Owners

Since cargo owners may not take advantage of third-party resources, they usually negotiate rates and terms with individual carriers. Increasing visibility within their supply chains can lead to significant improvements. Improvements include better inventory optimization, reduced demurrage and detention charges, more traceability, better carrier contract negotiation leverage, and higher customer satisfaction. Since the cargo owner takes an active role in management, these benefits amount to a dramatic reduction in the leading costs of ocean freight shipping.

Shippers

Shippers include exporters, resellers, consignors, or other individuals who initiate a shipment and bear the burden of cost. Comparable to cargo owners, shippers realize the same benefits of increased ocean freight visibility. However, “shippers” is a term usually used to describe those operating independently and with a lower volume of freight. In other words, beneficial cargo owners might include Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and major retailers. Meanwhile, shippers may only move one 10th of the same volume. In this instance, it becomes more difficult to justify investing in Ocean freight tracking and traceability capabilities.

Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarders focus on moving freight as efficiently and saving money for the freight owner. Real-time information regarding shipment status through connected, advanced systems improves the service of freight forwarders’ customers. Improvements in this business-to-business transaction lead to benefits and improvements in the final customers’ experiences.

For example, final customers would be those that make the purchase for home delivery or pick up a product in a brick-and-mortar store. If the inventory is kept at proper levels and arrives on time, and customers do not experience delays resulting from “out of stock” items. Improvements in visibility within ocean freight also lend themselves to faster searches to handle freight claims, identify problems, and keep customers informed.

Software Companies

Thousands of software companies exist to improve freight management practices. The use of a transportation management system, warehouse management system, warehouse execution system, analytics platform, and other systems are the offspring of software companies. Each system can benefit from more information about shipment status. Integrating these existing systems with a real-time capable tracking platform allows for real-time access and response to issues in freight management. Reliable and complete data analytics eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the estimated time of arrival or other needs.

Moreover, the use of an API enables transparent predictive pricing. In other words, users of software know more about what the total landed cost of freight will be. This has immense value for improving customer service, keeping cargo spend under control, and maintaining sustainable operations.

Advanced Functions in Modern Systems Enable Continuous Improvement

Advanced functions in modern systems, including automated alerts, rapid search tools, recordkeeping, and analytics, further enable continuous improvement. Instead of relying on an assumption, cargo owners, shippers, freight forwarders, and software companies can put the real power of technology to work.

For instance, automated alerts reduce the risk of disruption and can help shippers plan around adverse events. Rapid search tools help customer service representatives with locating a missing or delayed shipment. Recordkeeping capabilities improve responsiveness, customer service, and compliance practices.

Analytics are among the most expansive of functions. Analytics reveal what happened, what may happen, what is likely to happen, how it will happen, and what companies need to achieve a better outcome. In a sense, analytics enable the optimum performance of the global supply chain. Software users realize the benefits of more informed decision making, less stress in handling new requests, and improved reporting to C-Suite members.

How to Achieve End-to-End Ocean Freight Tracking and Traceability With Less Stress?

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E2E Logistics transportation modes

The path to end-to-end ocean freight tracking can be challenging to overcome. To avoid falling off the trail, enterprises should follow these steps:

  1. Don’t rely on lumbering EDI feeds from the carriers- they only provide a fraction of the data you’ll need. Gather your data puzzle pieces – you will need consolidated data from multiple sources to paint a real-time picture of where your shipments are, where they are going and when.
  2. Track both the whole shipment and by the container. Tracking the ship is excellent, but what happens if the container never gets loaded? Careful tracking of the current container location enables better transparency and improved planning for arrival, unloading, and final delivery.  
  3. Work with carriers to negotiate better rates by tracking volume shipped, on-time arrivals, and service. Information helps to justify discounts or additional services during negotiations.
  4. Automate event notifications and alerts, using rulesets to transform exception management into an automatic process as well. Automated exception management contributes to more efficiency and fewer costs.
  5. Implement a new, API-based platform to Track and Trace all ocean freight from origin through final delivery. Using APIs reduces the IT headache and transforms upgrades into a turnkey process.
  6. Get your supply chain partners on board by using the same system. Using the same system eliminates uncertainty and provides end-to-end visibility too.
  7. Apply data through predictive analytics to boost ETAs and the arrival schedule. Predictive analytics also have a natural implication for refining the ETA to ensure companies know what to expect.

Summary: All Supply Chains Need Ocean Freight Visibility

Ocean freight visibility is not a passing trend. It represents the culmination of advancement in modern technologies and the globalization of supply chains. Corporations that lack ocean freight visibility will continue to experience significant disruptions, as well as higher freight spend. Moreover, the growing complexity of supply chain management will lead to increased product price points and the risk of dissatisfied customers without end-to-end visibility. The evidence is clear. Enterprises must work to reduce areas of reduced visibility by connecting ocean freight containers to a centralized, data-driven platform. They should also follow the tips listed above to increase ocean freight traceability, and this white paper also provides an excellent resource for building the business case for investment. 

Choose Ocean Insights to Realize End-To-End Ocean Freight Tracking Capabilities

Failures within the global supply chain derive from risks, and few issues present a higher risk than poor visibility. With the global supply chain increasingly focused on customer service and just-in-time fulfillment, everyone needs to rethink their strategies and build better visibility into all shipping modes, including ocean freight transport. To achieve these goals, your company needs a proven solution, such as Container Track and Trace, offered by Ocean Insights in partnership with FourKites.

To learn more about how your organization can embrace the visibility waves of ocean freight management, please feel free to contact us by clicking here.