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Why Real-Time Container Tracking is a Must-Have in 2023

December 8, 2023

According to a recent survey, 62% of U.S. Consumers consider “fast-shipping” the most critical factor in creating a positive e-commerce experience. However, several persistent supply-chain difficulties have gotten in the way of customers' expectations for fast, affordable shipping in recent years. From the COVID-19 Pandemic shutting down ports in China to worker shortages making it difficult for logistics providers to find adequate staffing, the last several years have seen shippers struggle to deliver on high customer expectations. 

However, as 2023 fast approaches, shippers are hoping for a return to normalcy. But with a broad range of crises facing the logistics industry, it’s looking like “normal” (whatever that might mean) is still a long way off. To help shippers prepare for 2023, we’ve looked into four challenges waiting for the global logistics industry in the new year and beyond and how improved container visibility through API-enabled container tracking software is helping savvy shippers stay competitive. 

Shortage Struggles

Unfortunately for shippers, the persistent shortages that have roiled the logistics industry in recent years show little sign of abating in 2023. According to Forbes, “Employers do not have the labor or capacity to manage effectively, process, and unload U.S. imports, and the resulting slow delivery times and shipping delays have rippled across the entire supply chain.” With little relief for an overburdened logistics workforce, the labor shortage will pressure shippers throughout 2023. 

However, labor’s not the only area where shippers are coming up short: logistics professionals are struggling to find the equipment they need to complete timely deliveries across the country. In a recent interview with FreightWaves, Doug Hoehn, Executive Vice President of equipment provider Milestone’s marine chassis division, said, “Under normal market conditions, Milestone would have 800 to 1,000 chassis available for rent each day from our locations near port terminals and railyards nationwide [...]However, due to the increased demand, we now have fewer than 30 units available daily.

Facing labor and equipment shortages, shippers are turning to improved container visibility to stay ahead of supply chain difficulties. API-based container tracking systems allow shippers to maintain communication throughout the logistical process, allowing them to adapt to shortages. 

Labor Difficulties

While the U.S. rail freight industry recently dodged a strike that could have cost up to $2 billion per day, its ocean freight industry professionals remain on the edge of their seats. Recent strikes in the U.K. have interrupted American supply chains. The potential of a West Coast Strike from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) remains a distinct possibility, with Reuters reporting that such a strike could affect 29 West Coast ports, which handle a cumulative 40% of the country’s imports.

Unfortunately, shippers, like the global logistics industry, are mainly left at the whims of labor unions, often losing vast amounts of revenue until contracts can be hammered out. However, as the likelihood of labor disputes increases at ports in the U.S. and abroad, some shippers are turning to real-time container tracking to access the container visibility they need to navigate a turbulent logistics environment. 

New Legislation

In the first legislative action targeting ocean shipping in twenty years, President Biden signed into law two bills that hope to revolutionize the logistics industry. 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, or OSRA, hopes to reinvigorate the American ocean-shipping industry by regulating the large common carriers that have dominated Pacific sea routes in recent years, as well as regulate demurrage and detention fees, which, according to SupplyChainDive, have “[...] increased 104% from 2020 to 2021 across the world’s 20 largest ports.” Under the OSRA, shippers will have to report several key figures to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) or face strict penalties as FreightWaves says: “Under the new law if the FMC determines after an investigation that an invoice was inaccurate or false, it can now assess penalties or direct carriers to issue refunds, as well as impose possible civil penalties.”

Although President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was not a logistics-focused bill, much of the bill’s ambitions lay within the logistics and transportation sector. FreightWaves reports, “The IRA includes $3 billion in grants and rebates for port authorities and marine terminals to purchase zero-emission cargo-handling equipment until September 2027. The goal is to address air pollution in and around ports.” With multi-billion dollar federal aid coming to American Ports, shippers can expect disruptive construction projects to complicate logistics throughout 2023.

While these legislative efforts have been well-received in some corners of the logistics industry, many shippers are worried about the potential effects of increased regulatory scrutiny from the Federal Maritime Commission and new pressures toward sustainability through the Inflation Reduction Act. Increasingly, regulation-wary shippers are turning to proactive container tracking to access the container visibility they need to comply with new legislation. 

Global Conflict

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine set to cost the global economy $2.8 Trillion by the end of 2023, the world’s attention has turned to the international conflicts creating strife throughout the globe. However, the conflict in Ukraine is not affecting all industries equally. According to MIT’s Sloan School of Management experts, “The Russia-Ukraine war is having an outsized impact on the global supply chain, impeding the flow of goods, fueling dramatic cost increases and product shortages, and creating catastrophic food shortages around the world [...].

However, with the world’s focus on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, shippers can easily disregard another fraught corner of the globe: the Taiwan Strait. As tensions between China and Taiwan continue to escalate, with the U.S. keeping a careful eye on the region, shippers are squarely in the crosshairs. As FreightWaves, reporting on Chinese Military Exercises in the waters around Taiwan, wrote in August of 2022, “[...] almost half of the world’s container ships and 88% of larger container ships transited the Taiwan Strait this year [...] Some liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers have already rerouted or slowed speed in response to the coming military exercises.” As tensions in the region continue to heighten, shippers are nervously waiting to see what 2023 will bring.

While shippers, like the world, are primarily forced to take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to international conflict, some savvy shippers are turning to improved container visibility to mitigate the worst effects of global conflict. By embracing API-enabled, real-time container tracking technology, shippers can access the container visibility they need to change course and adapt as a dispute arises quickly. 

Expect the Unexpected with Container Tracking from OpenTrack

As 2023 rapidly approaches, today’s shippers find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place: customers expect lightning-fast delivery, but an increasingly complicated global logistical landscape seems insistent on foiling their expectations. By implementing groundbreaking container tracking technology, shippers can access the container visibility they need to get out from under persistent supply chain snafu and position themselves for success in 2023. 

By partnering with OpenTrack today, shippers can access the data-driven, real-time container tracking they need to maintain container visibility throughout their logistics operations. Book a demo with OpenTrack today, and see what real-time container visibility can do for your business in 2023 and beyond. 

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