- Maritime consulting firm SeaIntelligence predicts real-time container tracking will be standard in 600,000 containers worldwide by 2025.
- "If this adds the value everyone believes will become the case, we are clearly past a point of no return where competitive pressure will compel all carriers to eventually provide this feature as a matter of course," according to a SeaIntelligence report emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
- As cheaper, more scalable tracking technologies have come on the market, the "dam has burst" on the digitalization of container shipping, SeaIntelligence CEO and Partner Lars Jensen said, with more carriers announcing container digitalization projects at scale. In May, CMA CGM said it will add 50,000 container trackers to its fleet and this month, Hapag-Lloyd said it would implement trackers in 100,000 of its containers.
A technology revolution has begun to hit ocean freight in recent years, marked by trends in tracking technologies and blockchain platforms like TradeLens. SeaIntelligence believes this trend is taking off now not only because these technologies are becoming more scalable, but because customers are expecting real-time information and transparency on their shipments.
Real-time tracking gives shippers and carriers insight into where shipments are going, what condition they're in and where they can be routed to achieve more efficient delivery. Therefore, SeaIntelligence predicts, the carriers that can offer this service sooner and more reliably will have a competitive advantage in the industry.
"It will quickly shift from competitive differentiator to 'must have' qualifier," Jensen told Supply Chain Dive via email.
As global supply chains continue to expand, grow more complex and become increasingly intermodal, real-time tracking and digitalization could benefit carriers' operations in addition to their competitiveness.
Maersk and IBM's TradeLens platform has begun to eliminate the need for time-intensive paper-based transactions between international carriers while making contracting and pricing simpler by keeping records on a transparent, but secure, blockchain ledger.
These trends combined could transform ocean freight in the future, however Jensen cautions a main challenge for firms going forward will be maintaining these networks of trackers and systems.
Just like any other component part, tracking sensors are subject to wear and tear, glitches or cybersecurity issues that can affect their ability to relay accurate information to carriers and their customers. As companies continue to invest in this technology to stay ahead of the competition, investing in and understanding maintenance needs will be key.