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Ocean Container Tracking Software: The Value of Integrated Visibility Solutions

May 17, 2024

Despite having been a mainstay of the logistics technology landscape for more than a decade, supply chain visibility remains a key focus for both supply chain managers and technology professionals alike in an increasingly volatile logistics landscape. In 2023, a survey found that visibility was cited as the top IT investment among logistics companies, with 52% of respondents listing it as their primary area of focus.

While visibility is an essential component of all facets of the logistics ecosystem — from large-scale cargo movements to last-mile consumer delivery platforms — nowhere is it more impactful than in intermodal transportation. Since the invention of the intermodal container in 1952, container transportation has formed the backbone of global trade. However, since intermodal containers are inherently reliant on multimodal transportation, they are exceptionally vulnerable to disruptions. As such, visibility over these shipments allows logistics professionals to maintain efficiency while building agility in the face of an increasingly exception-prone logistics landscape. With approximately half of the total value of global trade transported via containers, container tracking software has become an invaluable asset not only to supply chain professionals but to all businesses involved in the global marketplace.

However, the efficacy of these solutions is highly variable. While there seems to be nigh-universal consensus on the importance of container tracking, it’s easy for shippers to miss invaluable opportunities for increasing the usability of container tracking software. Effective container tracking software doesn’t just prioritize visibility — it prioritizes usability. Ten years into the global container tracking boom, shippers and logistics providers alike are coming to realize a key value of effective container tracking software: integration.

In this article, we examine the importance of an integrated, scalable container tracking software solution and investigate the benefits such solutions can offer businesses.

Understanding Integrated Container Tracking Software

Imagine a sports car: sleek exterior design, leather seats, and a V12 eager to rev under the hood. Now, painfully, imagine that you’ve lost the only key. That same sports car is now sitting in a garage for decades, unused and left to gather dust. The car, despite being capable of incredible performance, is unusable.

Now that we’ve spent some time mourning that Ferrari, let’s apply the same scenario to container tracking. A business makes a significant investment in container tracking software. They spend the requisite money and invest significant human capital educating their employees on its use. Despite this, the business fails to make the most of its investment and is faced with many of the same visibility issues it thought it’d resolved through its initial investment. How did this happen?

For most businesses, this is a result of issues categorized under usability and accessibility, which we’ll break down below:

  • Usability issues stem from limitations within the container tracking software itself. Generally, limited usability comes from blind spots within the software. For example, many container tracking software platforms leverage an intense focus on maritime freight but fail to address the other half of the intermodal transportation process: rail transportation. In this case, the usability of the software limits the business’ visibility to ocean freight, leaving huge blindspots later in the supply chain. While rail is a common blind spot, it’s only one of many: poor or nonexistent visibility over drayage operations, port performance, and analytics can all present significant issues to the scalable usability of a container tracking software solution.
  • Accessibility issues are a result of the design of the product itself, rather than its features. Think back to that poor, dust-covered sports car: shut in the dark garage, it gets no use, and is thus unable to provide its owner with the performance promised. Container tracking software operates on a similar principle: siloed in a browser tab, container tracking software is as useless as a sports car with a lost key. Without complete integration into existing operations and tech stacks, container tracking software lacks the accessibility to make a difference in the daily transportation operations of a business.

Ultimately, the purpose of integrated container tracking software is to address these fundamental issues of usability and accessibility.

Through a complete, streamlined integration into your existing operations and tech stack, integrated container tracking software becomes immediately accessible to all stakeholders within your business — an invaluable asset not only to the business but to customers eager to gain an accurate understanding of where their shipment is within the transportation process. But integrated container tracking software isn’t just valuable for its accessibility, but its usability, too. With the integration of both macro and micro analytics into integrated container tracking software, businesses can leverage container tracking software not only to optimize maritime shipments, but to gain visibility over port performance, drayage operations, and rail shipments.

Now that we’ve established an understanding of the issues addressed by integrated container tracking software, let’s take a closer look at some of its key benefits.

Holistic Performance Optimization

Integrated container tracking software offers holistic performance optimization by providing a comprehensive view of the entire logistics operation. By integrating with various systems and platforms across the supply chain, including transportation management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), and port management systems, it enables seamless data exchange and collaboration among stakeholders. This holistic approach allows for better decision-making, resource allocation, and process optimization, ultimately leading to improved operational efficiency and cost savings.

White-Label Customization Capabilities

Integrated container tracking software offers white-label customization capabilities, allowing businesses to tailor the software to their specific needs and branding requirements. With white-label customization, businesses can customize the user interface, branding elements, and functionality of the software to align with their unique identity and workflow preferences. This not only enhances the user experience for internal stakeholders but also creates a consistent brand experience for external partners and customers. Additionally, white-label customization ensures scalability and flexibility, enabling businesses to adapt the software as their operations evolve over time.

End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility

One of the most significant benefits of integrated container tracking software is end-to-end supply chain visibility. By consolidating data from various sources and systems, including carriers, terminals, customs authorities, and third-party logistics providers, integrated tracking software provides real-time visibility into the entire supply chain process. This end-to-end visibility enables shippers to track container movements, monitor inventory levels, anticipate potential disruptions, and make informed decisions to optimize supply chain performance. With complete visibility across the supply chain, businesses can proactively identify and address issues, minimize risks, and ensure timely delivery of goods to customers.

OpenTrack: Freight Visibility Made Simple

By addressing usability and accessibility challenges, integrated container tracking software provides holistic performance optimization, white-label customization capabilities, and end-to-end supply chain visibility. With these advantages, businesses can streamline operations, enhance decision-making, and mitigate risks effectively.

As we move forward into 2024 and beyond, the importance of integrated container tracking software cannot be overstated, especially in the face of ongoing disruptions and increasing demands for efficiency. In today’s volatile logistics landscape, integrated container tracking software provides businesses with the resilience and agility needed to maintain effective, scalable operations.

Book a demo with OpenTrack today, and learn how integrated container tracking software can transform your intermodal operations.

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