- Maersk is currently testing a virtual assistant — named Captain Peter — with "a group of select customers" and says the new tool will be become part of its Remote Container Management (RCM) platform within the first half of the year, according to a company press release.
- Captain Peter will send customers updates on their shipments with details on the temperature and atmospheric conditions within refrigerated containers and a timeline for arrival.
- "There is still a lot of paperwork and difficult processes in global trade," Anne-Sophie Zerlang Karlsen, the head of global reefer management at Maersk, said in a statement. "Captain Peter will help take care of some of this complexity, by seamlessly engaging with the customer from end to end in the supply chain."
There has been a trend toward greater visibility in tracking ocean cargo over the last few years. Maersk was one of the early adopters of tracking technology when it began working with Big Ocean Data in 2016 to track its ships via satellite. In 2017, DHL launched Ocean View, which used the company's own transportation management system to provide hourly updates on cargo through an online portal. Earlier this month, IBM and Sigfox introduced an internet of things (IoT) solution to help a French auto manufacturer to track individual containers involved in its shipment operation.
Captain Peter will automate much of the checking-in customers would have to do on their shipments. It can send updates through either text message or email and notify shippers if any issues arise. If problems are found, then this allows customers to contact the supplier or have the shipment checked, Maersk said.
The RCM platform, launched in 2017, is used by 2,300 of Maersk's customers to track 270,000 refrigerated containers, the company said. Maersk eventually wants to use the information collected with Captain Peter and its RCM to see issues coming on the horizon and deal with them ahead of time.
“With the number of active users of the RCM platform constantly growing, the aspiration is for Captain Peter to gather enough information to be able to predict potential cargo damage and provide configuration suggestions before containers are shipped,” Karlsen said in the statement.
This kind of information can be vital for shippers. Damage to goods can cost them a good deal of money, especially considering 30% to 50% of ocean cargo is uninsured, according to The Loadstar. And in some cases the containers aren't just damaged, but lost forever.