Supply chain visibility

How the role of digital technology is evolving in enhancing supply chain visibility

Cargo and vessel tracking has so far been restricted to real-time visibility providers and shipping line websites. Shipping line websites do not have the best reputation in terms of real-time tracking at the best of times, and this is certainly not helping customers with their requirements.

Even with the best telematics from trucks, the whole visibility spectrum can be brought about only with technologies such as smart containers whether it is with or without cargo.

Empty container visibility is of particular importance for shipping lines as there are several empty containers still lying in areas where they are not being used effectively and all lines are looking to get their inventory back to where it is needed most.

And it's not just about the empty containers, it is also about some trades where illicit goods are moved and the impact it has on the cost of custom clearance, especially on high drug-risk areas such as Latin America and South America where customs inspect containers at a high cost to customers. IoT devices and real-time tracking can assist with this visibility quite effectively.

While the announcement by some of the shipping lines that entire dry container fleets will be fitted with IoT devices by the end of 2024 demonstrates the fact that shipping lines have understood that they can leverage this technology for their own operations a lot of the other shipping lines are only deploying smart containers on demand and not yet as a systematic deployment due to various factors and strategies.

Sustainability and smart containers

The real-time visibility factor can play a vital role in enhancing sustainability initiatives because with the real-time tracking and visibility aided by smart containers shipping lines can better manage the rotation and turn around time of their containers.

They can route containers directly to where it is required such as empty containers going directly to customers instead of the depot and moving again to the customer or triangulate containers between importers and exporters.

There is a requirement in France for example to calculate carbon footprint of a shipment and currently this is being estimated based on eco transit or solutions like that. But that is still only an estimate and the advantage with a smart container is that we can know exactly the number of miles and travel and that could be very useful.

Insurance coverage

Some insurance companies are considering options to incorporate IoT devices into their policy offerings as that give them the option to verify the whereabouts and condition of the cargo in real-time and identify where any deviations or changes in conditions occurred.

Traxens is also collaborating with several insurance firms to provide solutions for theft for which features such as the door-opening detection, light, and shock monitoring can help.

Currently for the high-value cargoes that are being shipped, door opening is the most important feature, but it all depends on the trade offs in costs, because to move from a generic ETA visibility solution to accurate geo-location tracked visibility including door opening, costs for customers will increase and could affect their bottom line as well.

There are several other options that can be incorporated into our tracking devices such as cameras which could be used by customs to use these devices as an electronic seal and ensure that there has been no unauthorized door opening while the container was full.

These points have been extracted from an Executive Insights segment with Cedric Rosemont with Hariesh Manaadiar on Shipping and Freight Resource. You can read the full interview here.  

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