Rather than leaving ocean shipping visibility up to chance, more companies are deploying technologies to help them gain high levels of transparency over those shipments. Here’s why.
Historically, the time that shipments spent on the high seas was largely left up to the whims of the ocean carrier. While the time frames for certain routes were established, shippers couldn’t really set their watches by them because, well, things come up when you’re out in the open water, right? Add port strikes, capacity crunches, and driver shortages to the mix, and the visibility blurs even further.
With a larger emphasis being placed on supply chain visibility right now—driven largely by some of the “gaps” that opened or widened during the global pandemic—more companies should be taking a harder look at ocean freight visibility and the impact that it has on their end-to-end supply chains.
In other words, now is not the time to leave ocean shipping visibility up to chance, or simply expect that aspect of your transportation network to manage itself. Here’s why:
Freight visibility is an absolute must-have. Visibility is crucial in today’s market, and it includes all aspects of your transportation network—from the time the goods leave the dock until they reach their final destination, and all points in between. “The COVID-19 pandemic has moved supply chain and logistics technologies to the public eye like few times before,” Crunchbase states, “as shortages at grocery stores and the distribution of a possible vaccine highlight the importance of moving goods and essentials.”
Ocean freight is often the “black hole” of the supply chain. As stated earlier, the variables on the high seas are both many and varied. Still, with today’s advanced technology, supply chain platforms, and command centers, gaining visibility over this link in the supply chain is now within reach.
Carriers are getting onboard. The big ocean carriers have been working to improve their own performance while also making shippers’ supply chains more predictable. In 2017, for example, Maersk launched a program with Microsoft that helped shippers see exactly where their shipment is, at the container level, as well as get big-picture information, including supplier and carrier performance. “Our aim is to simplify and enhance visibility in supply chains by providing a seamless end-to-end digital experience for our customers,” Maersk’s Ibrahim Gokcen said at the time. This is just one example of how carriers are working to improve ocean supply chain visibility.
Demurrage and detention charges are steep (and getting steeper). Without good ocean shipping visibility, who’s to say how long that incoming container was hanging around in the yard, or how much time a refrigerated shipment spent in a freight forwarder’s warehouse? Carriers reap the benefits of demurrage and detention charges, both of which can be reduced and/or eliminated by having proof of exactly when a shipment was loaded, when it left the dock, when it arrived on land, and how much time went by before it was put on a truck and shipped to the final destination.
Get granular detail with container-level tracking. It’s one thing to be able to track an entire shipment (i.e., an entire ship as it moves from point A to point B), but did you know that you can also track by single containerload? The latter allows companies to not only see their freight in the context of the larger vessel, but also where their individual containers are. This helps enable better overall transparency and helps companies plan better for the shipment’s arrival, unloading, and delivery.
Be proactive versus reactionary. Ultimately, technology helps supply chain managers think ahead and take a proactive approach to running their operations, avoiding risk, and maximizing opportunities. When an ocean visibility platform sends out an alert about a potential disruption (e.g., a weather event, looming port strike, etc.), shippers can react accordingly and keep their customers apprised of the situation. This not only helps the shipper manage its own operations, but it also helps improve responsiveness and customer service levels.Rather than letting their cargo shipments enter a vast “black hole” when they leave port and head out to sea—or waiting for missed deliveries, detention fees, and penalties to add up before doing anything about them—companies are turning to technology for help. With the right solutions and tools in place, these shippers are learning that even the most tumultuous waters are navigable in any business conditions.
Don’t Leave Ocean Visibility Up to Chance
IntelliTrans’ Global Control Tower provides high levels of supply chain transparency; aggregates, completes, and enhances data from a variety of sources; offers visibility into and execution of different aspects of the supply chain; and generates data-driven alerts and analytics that ask deeper questions and deliver meaningful insights.
By leveraging tracking information, the Global Control Tower provides analytics that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) like fleet cycle time, origin/destination dwell time, lane and hauler performance, back orders, freight spend, load optimization, and more. With their rate, equipment, lease, tracking, and invoice data in a central repository that’s accessible 24/7, companies can position themselves for success in any market conditions.