The Importance Of Real-Time Ocean Visibility
When it comes to real-time visibility, the market is becoming more important and more robust and saturated than ever before. Billions of venture capital dollars of investment are being poured into companies that can integrate real-time visibility data with transportation to provide a more informed ETA for shippers and carriers.
The need to know where products are, whether they are on the way to the warehouse, store, or customer, when there are delays, and alerts for these delays, is critical to ensure a positive experience. The rise of visibility solutions at the container level is helping to drive the transportation execution market to new heights. However, the biggest problem when it comes to providing accurate and updated ETAs is the difference in modes.
Visibility solutions are playing a larger role in the market, as real-time tracking of assets becomes more important. Suppliers of visibility solutions continue to bring in additional data streams for better estimated time of arrival (ETA).
Real-time visibility tools are often thought of as an over-the-road technology. In this case, the visibility is based on integration to truck carriers’ systems. The carriers in turn are tracking the ELD devices on their trucks or by a downloadable app that the driver puts on his smart phone. There are a variety of external data streams that also play a role in providing better visibility and improved ETAs. Companies are partnering with data aggregators to get a better idea of when shipments will arrive. This includes port data, social media, news, event and weather (SNEW) data, traffic data, and other available sources to provide an accurate ETA to warehouses, stores, and end consumers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving interest in the market. For a truer ETA, companies are using IoT data from trucks to get a better understanding of driver behavior, such as typical driving speeds and times, as well as how they operate in heavily congested areas. Companies can take sensor data from trucks and incorporate hours of service rules to know when, where, and for how long a driver needs to stop. These applications also understand that where and when the driver stops will have an impact on the ETA. This is especially true if drivers stop before a major city and will have to endure rush hour traffic once they start driving again.
Transportation visibility is clearly not only for trucks. However, the nuances and granularity of the data will vary depending on the mode. Ocean ETAs, for example, are much different because the factors are different than over the road. These include currents and wind speeds, which play a major role in the overall transit times. The majority of ocean shipments go through trans-shipments, or stopovers, meaning that the journey is more than just port to port. The route can easily change based on a variety of factors. These changes can add significant time to the ETA.
The Importance of Ocean Visibility
For over-the-road shipments, getting bumped to the next truck can add a day or two to the overall transit time. For ocean cargo, however, if a shipment gets bumped to the next ship, it can add up to 15 days to the transit time. For ocean cargo, there are multiple sources feeding into ETAs, including the initial Captains ETA as well as ASI data from ship transponders. Ocean visibility algorithms take into account a variety of factors including berthing times, when the container will offload, when it will clear customs, and when it will get to the next part of transport and to a DC into the overall ETA. These factors make ocean ETAs more complex and less accurate, when compared to over-the-road.
FourKites, the global leader in real-time supply chain visibility, recently launched its Dynamic OceanSM platform for visibility, rate and documentation management. The solution recognizes a few important pieces of the ocean visibility puzzle. First and foremost, ocean visibility goes well beyond the question of “what time will my container get there?” The platform also takes into consideration questions such as, “If I use a freight forwarder, is it still my shipment or is it under a different contract?” and, ”How can I best manage my documents so that my containers don’t get stuck at the port of discharge?”
What really sets FourKites’ Dynamic Ocean solution apart from others is that the visibility it offers for ocean shipments does not stop at the port. While other solutions focus just on tracking containers, FourKites is the only platform that offers door-to-door precision tracking — spanning port, yard, rail and multimodal coverage — together with highly accurate predictive ETAs and collaborative workflow and document management features. To that end, FourKites also has an extremely robust yard management solution — Dynamic Yard — that provides real-time insights across your yard, including trailer inventory, SKU-level visibility, and flexible and configurable custom yard zones, in addition to unprecedented levels of collaboration. .
Unlike other visibility platforms, Dynamic Ocean offers comprehensive multimodal visibility for each leg of the journey, alongside rate and booking management, and document management/visibility. End-to-end visibility with Dynamic Ocean hits upon seven different stages throughout a shipment’s journey:
Shipment at origin. This stage includes emptying the truck upon arrival, and then loading it with the next shipment. The load is tracked through departure with an ETA to the final delivery. This initial ETA is important for understanding when the shipment will arrive at and move through a port.
In-Transit to Port. During transit on the ocean, this stage uses technology to track the real-time position of the container and give a more appropriate ETA.
Port of Loading. This leg takes into consideration any event involving the vessel, its schedule, and events. Additionally, it looks at the ETA of the different legs of the journey, and any exception and alerts that arise during transit.
Ocean In-Transit. This stage uses technology to track the latest position of the vessel in real-time, and adjust its ETA accordingly, depending on a variety of scenarios.
Port of Discharge. Port of discharge looks at other vessel, container, and port events, and how they can impact the overall timing of the shipment.
In-Transit to Destination. This stage integrates over-the-road with ocean or rail tracking to give real-time updates on the container’s location and update the ETA to the most accurate time frame possible.
Final Destination. The final stage monitors ETAs and delays on the network, tracks actual arrival times and records the proof-of-deliveries.
There are a number of technologies that are enhancing transportation visibility systems. The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving interest in the market. For a truer ETA, companies are using IoT to use sensor data from containers to know when and where a shipment will arrive. Machine learning is also important in transportation visibility systems. Real-time visibility solutions leverage machine learning to learn more about constraints (such as capacity, regulations, and hours of service) and then use that information to give a much more accurate ETA for shipments to warehouses, stores, and end customers. In the end, understanding the ocean leg of the journey is perhaps the most important aspect for trans-continental shipments.
FourKites’ recently released Dynamic Ocean solution can help to make the ocean less of an unknown when it comes to global shipping.
My colleague Chris Cunnane was the author of this article.