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10-24-2019

Container Tracking: The Solution to Shipment Visibility

The advancement of technology has raised the expectations of consumers and businesses when it comes to transparency of and access to information. When consumers place orders on Uber Eats, they expect to see the real-time status of their orders, allowing them to plan their activities in advance. When they ship their items on Amazon, they can easily track their parcels by simply going to Amazon’s website. Likewise, different parties, such as shippers, carriers, freight forwarders, and consignees, of supply chain also need access to real-time information about their shipments to take precautionary measures or react to unexpected incidents with more time. After all, the loss caused by delayed shipment in the B2B sector is often significantly larger than that in the B2C sector.

It goes without saying that container tracking is certainly much more complex than mere food delivery tracking; however, it might not be clear as to why the B2B sector has not been able to successfully utilize tracking as efficiently as the B2C sector does. In today’s post, we will clear things up by exploring some topics of container tracking:

How exactly does container tracking work?
What are the challenges of successfully implementing container tracking?
How do different parties benefit from it?

How does Container Tracking Work?

Traditionally, container tracking was actually manually done by operators. As the container goes through different stages of a supply chain, operators manually update the status of shipment for others’ references. Unfortunately, information provided by the operators might not be accurate and is definitely not real-time. However, developments in IoT technology shifted the status quo by introducing a process of automated data collection, transmission, processing, and distribution. How exactly does it work then?

Internet of Things makes container tracking easier

With the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT), more companies have come up with their own methods of container tracking to provide better customer experiences. Essentially, container tracking is composed of several devices and systems.

A sensor or transmitter, which might interact with satellites to generate the precise location of cargo, is attached to the exterior of the container and is activated as the container moves along the chain. The transmitters will then send the generated signals to the receivers that eventually relay the information to the supply chain management systems that analyze the information and distribute it to the end devices, such as phones or computers, for different parties to know the conditions and locations of the containers. As you may have noticed, the mechanism of container tracking is quite similar to that of GPS. As a matter of fact, GPS and GSM are parts of the solutions to container tracking. Other solutions involve the use of bluetooth devices, radio frequency identification, and other wireless devices.

The mechanism of container explained above seems to be quite easy to implement. The reality is that successfully executing container tracking is much harder than it sounds.

Challenges of Container Tracking

There are several challenges when it comes to container tracking.

How do different parties benefit from container tracking?

As the data of container tracking becomes more refined and accurate, both shippers and freight forwarders can benefit from it as discussed below.

Better Shipment Visibility

The advancement of technology has made everyone’s life simpler. Consumers and buyers now expect everything to be more efficient and transparent. Being able to provide real-time shipment visibility becomes an important competitive advantage for service providers, such as freight forwarders and retailers, and will perhaps be taken for granted in the near future. Hence, forwarders must work together to increase traceability and visibility of freight to provide the best resources for their clients.

References
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The United States of America has always been one of the largest importers in the world. Very often, exporters hire freight forwarders to facilitate the export process. However, US-based companies or sole proprietor acting as freight forwarders or NVOCCs must apply and obtain an Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) license from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). Read our post to learn more about the application process!
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