How is the demand for real-time container visibility kindling the need for digitisation in Maritime?
According to a study, 30 per cent of container data is missing, irrelevant or incorrect. Terminal operators worldwide report inefficiencies in operations only because of this factor as it causes an inability to plan in advance and the inventory costs add up due to inaction. Consequently, high demurrage charges and longer dwell time of trucks at the terminal are other causes of concern.
On the contrary, terminals would like to have a robust mechanism to perform their operations. Terminal operators today wish to have access to real-time updates and alerts on container movement for every milestone and share information among their vendors and partners in the value chain. But being in a vast environment like the Maritime, it is a challenging phenomenon to keep track of every single shipment. Yet, it is not impossible. With trade facilitation as the ultimate goal, various Ports across the world have pledged to eliminate the blind spots and inefficient processes in the entire Maritime value chain.
Apart from forecasting, ensuring visibility and overcoming delays, the intervention of technology is now taking a 360-degree turn and is setting its own benchmarks for growth. Even though the pandemic is to be attributed to this growth in technology adoption, it is a result of a long-standing benchmark set by Regulatory Authorities.
Here are some technological interventions that are driving 100% container visibility
- Forecasting Terminal Gate Congestion: Port gate congestion is the most pressing issue for terminal operators and transportation companies. During peaks, a truck driver spends 48 hours outside the Port gate terminal. Terminal Slot Management comes as a boon to both terminal operators as well as transporters as it helps in the transporter booking slots prior to his/her arrival at the Port gate. This technology is powered by artificial intelligence/machine learning and Blockchain in most of the community platforms. For example, a Port Community System comes with a full suite of technology utilisation ranging from Blockchain, predictive capabilities and 5G.
- Container inventory management with real-time visibility and analysis: Handling movement and management of containers in a Port ecosystem is a key task. If a container stays in a terminal yard or if it is not returned to the shipping line on time, excess demurrage charges will be applicable. This can be overcome with real-time visibility and proper analysis of the inventory. With a proper Port Community System or an enterprise solution, this inventory management gets better.
- Forecasting for incoming and outgoing containers in Port/terminal: Without prior information in hand, terminal operators always find it tough to handle the existing resources. If they had known the number of shipments coming in or going out, they can plan their resources accordingly. Unlikely due to a lack of communication between stakeholders and other factors, forecasting incoming and outgoing containers is unavailable. Therefore, technologies such as Port Community System and trade corridors are enabling terminal yards and Port authorities to forecast incoming and outgoing containers in the Port/terminal.
Technology intervention in specific areas to ensure container visibility in the near future
- Yard Level Tracking: Knowing shipment movement on every milestone is important, but in a vast environment like Port, every yard has to be monitored. Therefore, now technologies involving yard management and tracking are on the rise. Very soon, community solution providers too will have an integrated yard-level system as it gets more end-to-end.
- Status & Condition Tracking: Status and condition tracking is more valid in terms of pharmaceutical shipments. For example, if vaccines or highly potent medicines are transferred through ships then status and condition tracking is necessary. While Shipping Lines ensure the same in the carrier, it is not sure whether terminal yards are maintaining the recommended temperatures in order to maintain the potency of the medicines. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning plays a major role here i.e., with predictive analytics capabilities. Changing temperatures can be alerted to the yard manager or others maintaining the shipments.
- Carrier Connectivity: Through vessel declaration and management features, Port Community System does ensure proper connectivity between the source Port and the destination Port. In addition, when a carrier leaves the source, the destination Port receives the vessel declaration and other relevant documents. However, one-on-one communication between the carrier and the Ports as well as centralised tracking of carrier movement can be tracked with carrier connectivity.
Therefore, container visibility as a tech feature is taking new turns every day. While it is getting into the specifics, the demand to digitise is gradually rising. By the time, the entire Maritime world accepts digitisation, the new normal will be a digitised work environment. The advent of 5G, Blockchain, IoT and other technologies are shaping this transformation. Going forward, the industry has to gear up for tech investments.