How to know more than your shipper

Improve your day-to-day supply chain operations and drive better customer service with maritime intelligence and the most up-to-date tracking available

Photo Credit: Sam Croft, MarineTraffic.com

Communication issues, data gaps and a lack of visibility create headaches for those with cargo at sea. As any delay has a cascading impact along a supply chain, knowing about it sooner rather than later is your best weapon in the fight against disruptions and demurrage costs.

When it comes to the information available about the progress of the shipments when at sea, it is no secret that most supply chain and logistics professionals face a common challenge: limited visibility from the point of origin to destination. Having to call the carriers to receive updates on the schedule, is a process that costs many hours daily with an additional risk of getting no accurate updates.

MarineTraffic data shows over 22 per cent of commercial vessels are arriving at their destination a day later than planned, with 15 per cent making intermediate stops between their departure port and their declared destination. 

This means that having full visibility on the whereabouts of your vessels and receiving accurate information in advance, can make or break (the lack of these) your operations..

Related: Solving for supply chain professionals

How can professionals on the front line of the logistics remove uncertainty around cargo delivery and be better informed about the status of their cargo?

We’ve put together a list of three easy ways to help you master operations, save time and build stronger relationships with your customers. 

Get accurate voyage information via AIS tracking 

The first step to improve operations is to access reliable voyage information. Keeping your cargo in sight at all times and knowing if the schedule is at risk helps you gain control over the entire process. AIS information, as reported by the vessel’s crew (ex. Reported ETA), is important to know, but more importantly, and what will set you one step ahead of your shipper, is calculating the Estimated Time of ArrivalA Calculated ETA is a more accurate estimation based on an analysis of vessels’ current behaviour, factoring in previous voyages and route restrictions.

Related: See a side-by-side comparison of Reported & Calculated ETA, in this short guide here

Be notified for shipments at risk

Another way to become more independent and ensure you have the data you need to work more efficiently is by having this information in advance. Early indications of when a shipment is running late add flexibility and situational awareness to your day-to-day operations, facilitating responsiveness. By receiving automated alerts on the movements of the vessel and fleets in areas or ports relevant to you, means you won’t need to constantly monitor all shipments; you will only get notified if something is going to be delayed. 

Use an independent source to access and share information 24/7

Given that supply chains are, by definition, reliant on the interaction of many different networks and stakeholders, having an overview of what is happening, good or bad, is critical to being able to keep your customers informed and happy. To do so, you need to be able to share with them accurate information on where the vessels transporting their cargo are, anytime they ask for a status update. If you trust the data you have, you will be able to make more informed decisions and provide your customers, both internal and external, with the correct information, driving better customer service.

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