What is Shipment Tracking?
Shipment tracking refers to the process of monitoring and tracing the movement of cargo or goods during the shipping process. By utilizing advanced tracking technologies such as AI, stakeholders can obtain real-time information about the location and status of freights.
Shipment Tracking’s Essential Role in the Maritime Industry
Shipment tracking plays an essential role in the shipping and logistics industry, providing stakeholders with vital information relating to their merchandise while in transport.
It offers visibility to shipping companies to accurately monitor the progress and location of their shipments in real-time. If issues arise, shipping companies can take proactive measures to address and work around potential delays.
Live shipment tracking helps improve the supply chain management process. Buyers and sellers can gain visibility into transit times, identify potential bottlenecks, and optimize their operational processes. Visibility helps drive improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness, both for the shipment in progress and future shipments.
Shipment tracking also plays a role in customer satisfaction. Even if shipments are delayed, real-time updates regarding a shipment supply customers with a better understanding of why their goods have been delayed. This transparency allows them to plan accordingly and gives them a measure of control. Offering live shipment tracking insights to customers can significantly build trust and foster a strong, long-term relationship.
When transshipments are involved, shipment tracking can become even more complicated. As explained by Container XChange, “During transshipment, the containers are unloaded at the site, reloaded onto a different vessel, and transported to the endpoint. The intermediate location or the point of shipment transfer is known as the transshipment hub.”
It’s important to differentiate between the container and vessel journeys. Multiple vessels may carry one container on its journey from the original port of loading (POL) to the port of discharge (POD). For example, container X will leave its POL on vessel A, stop at a transshipment port or hub, and be transferred to vessel B, and from there to the POD. These transshipment scenarios complicate the issue, often forcing shippers and freight forwarders to act as detectives and figure out exactly where their container is and where it’s going. In more complex scenarios, there could even be more than one intermediate port along the way.
How to Track Shipments
There are different methods used to track shipments, each with its own approach and advantages.
- Shipment identification: one common method is to track shipments using unique identifiers, such as a shipment number, bill of lading, or booking number. By inputting this information on the carrier’s website or tracking portal, stakeholders can access relevant details about the shipment’s status and location. The identification number serves as a reference to retrieve specific shipment information. It’s important to note that the accuracy and real-time nature of this method are almost wholly dependent on the carrier.
- Communication: another method involves direct communication between the logistics manager and various parties involved in the shipment’s journey. The logistics manager coordinates with carriers, freight forwarders, customs authorities, and other stakeholders to gather information about the shipment’s progress and location. The downside of this method is that it is time-consuming and requires frequent communication and updates between multiple stakeholders.
AI-powered shipment tracking systems: an advanced method is the use of AI-powered shipment tracking systems. These systems employ AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics to provide real-time tracking and comprehensive insights into shipment movements. AI algorithms collect and process data from various sources such as GPS, RFID, or barcodes to track shipments accurately.
Leveraging AI has multiple advantages. It provides real-time visibility into the shipment’s location, status, and estimated delivery times. These systems can also analyze historical data to identify patterns and predict potential delays or issues, enabling proactive measures to ensure timely delivery. Additionally, AI systems can integrate with other supply chain technologies, such as inventory management systems, enhancing overall operational efficiency and coordination.
Shipment Tracking that Leverages Maritime AI™
When leveraging a Maritime AI™ solution, go beyond containerized goods and start tracking and monitoring, in real-time, all dry and wet bulk shipment milestones. With a Maritime AI™ solution, such as Windward Ocean Freight Visibility, end users receive:
- Coverage of all ocean shipments, regardless of carrier or type
- Over 95% milestone coverage, from Gate In at POL to Gate Out at POD
- Updates on 100% of vessels for all events and movements
- Over 1,400 container ports & terminals geofenced globally
Use Cases: The Benefits of Shipment Tracking
Shipment tracking offers various use cases that benefit both maritime companies and their customers. These use cases include enhancing customer experience, optimizing operational efficiency, improving supply chain visibility, and enabling effective risk management.Here are just two examples:
- Risk management: shipment tracking plays an important role in risk management. By monitoring shipments in real-time, companies can promptly identify any deviations from planned routes or unexpected events. It enables them to proactively address risks, such as adverse weather conditions, geopolitical instability, or other potential disruptions. By implementing appropriate risk mitigation strategies, companies can safeguard their shipments and minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances.
- Inventory optimization and stock management: shipment tracking significantly benefits inventory management processes. Real-time tracking data allows companies to accurately monitor the movement of goods and update inventory records accordingly. This enables precise stock-level management, reduces the risk of stockouts or overstocking, and facilitates efficient replenishment and supply chain planning.