Despite the proliferation of ocean freight visibility solutions, there seems to be a general unease among many in the industry. The Journal of Commerce did a good job of capturing this dissatisfaction:
“The more than $1.4 billion of venture capital invested into freight visibility providers over the last five years has not yet translated into transformative outcomes for users, shippers say.
A number of shippers who spoke to the Journal of Commerce in recent weeks describe an environment that is more underwhelming than outright disappointing, citing a lack of progress on historic pain points…
‘Supply chain visibility is only effective if the data is complete, accurate and timely,’ a commodities shipper who has used multiple visibility solutions said.”
1st Takeaway: Dissatisfaction with Visibility Solutions
We heard the above sentiment echoed among many of the beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and shippers we spoke with at the recently concluded Gartner® Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™. “Visibility” has become something of an industry buzzword…table stakes for potential technology vendors.
Knowing what is happening is entry-level, organizations need to know what is likely to happen in the future. Windward’s focus on the ocean/maritime industry enables us to be the expert in that sphere and combine leading maritime experts with cutting-edge AI technology.
Many of the people Winward spoke to at the Xpo said they hadn’t bought an ocean visibility solution yet, or did buy one but aren’t satisfied, or haven’t implemented the solution they selected yet (many possess “last-mile” solutions, etc.).
It’s still early days, but it’s already obvious that AI-powered insights and predictive analytics offer decision support, for a more strategic maritime viewpoint and greater efficiency.
Gartner has defined and evaluated a new category: International Visibility Business Process Context, showing the importance of capabilities in this area. Windward was named a “notable vendor” in Gartner’s “International Visibility Business Process Context: ‘Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms’” report and also led a joint session at the event with our customer, Metro.
Exception management (see the next takeaway) and “Actionable AI” enable importers, exporters, and logistics service providers to maximize their ROI and achieve unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction, based on:
- Maritime AI™predicted ETA and reasons for delay
- Automated container and vessel tracking
- Carrier, port, and terminal analytics
2nd Takeaway: Tracking Every Shipment Isn’t Scalable or Efficient
Let’s say you are tracking 3,000 shipments, but only 100 are critically delayed or early, and all the rest are on time or not an issue. With exception management capabilities, you’d be empowered with updates or notifications for only these 100 shipments – the critical exceptions, without having to worry or think about the other 2,900.
By identifying critical or significant delays and taking appropriate actions, you can ensure that customers are informed and updated, increasing trust and loyalty. This will ultimately result in a better customer experience and improved business performance. The people we spoke to at the Gartner event considered exception management to be a must-have.
3rd Takeaway: Milestone Coverage is Lacking
We heard complaints about carriers’ milestone coverage during conversations at the Gartner® Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ event, as well as an inability to see “the full picture.”
Crucial milestones, such as the actual time of arrival (ATA) and the actual time of departure (ATD), are not provided by most carriers. The carriers don’t necessarily provide milestone updates for a hundred percent of ocean freight shipments, even regarding the milestones they do usually cover. Sometimes shippers and freight forwarders will get updates, and sometimes they won’t.
Additionally, carrier updates are often delayed hours, sometimes days, creating many blindspots and uncertainties during a shipment. Large latency gaps, meaning the gap between the actual occurrence of the milestone and the update, can be costly. For example, if a container arrives at a port on Monday and you only receive an update on Wednesday, it will cost you two days, which can incur detention and demurrage charges.
Windward can provide you with milestones and expose everything happening at sea.
4th Takeaway: Visibility Goes Beyond Ocean Freight
Needs go beyond ocean containers when shipping. Different raw materials are shipped via dry and wet bulk, for instance. Visibility is needed across the different types of cargo vessels to empower you with the full picture of what is happening, including actual location, milestones, when ships will arrive, etc. Without knowing when the different types of vessels will reach their destinations, and where exactly those destinations are, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to establish true supply chain resilience.
Let’s Continue the Conversation
With over a decade of developing our Maritime AI™ models and military-grade technology, Windward serves leaders throughout the maritime ecosystem, providing much-needed insights to better manage ocean shipping and supply chain challenges.
We’d love to show you how we can help your organization.