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Transforming Supply Chain Visibility into Container Management

March 24, 2023
Organizations can create supply chain transparency through thoughtful use of transport data and tracking methods to better understand what is taking place with containers during shipping, storage and delivery.

Container dwell time creates headaches throughout the entire supply chain. Dwell time encompasses the amount of time that a container sits idle at a specific location, such as at a dock, railyard or warehouse. Numerous factors impact how long the container takes to get from point A to point B. Not having enough workers to unload or load containers, weather delays causing ships to reroute their courses or ports backed up with unloading containers while your ship must wait are just a few causes for these issues.

Implementing alternative transportation solutions takes time, and you may not even realize there is an immediate problem with receiving/shipping processes. Lack of communication or slow communication between shippers and companies lengthens remediation actions, especially if you do not know where the container is or why there is a delay. You also deal with unsatisfied customers who want on-demand, real-time updates regarding deliveries and will actively not purchase from a company who does not offer this logistical visibility.

To increase supply chain transparency, you need to focus on improving how container transport data reaches you. With so many hands touching the containers along the route, the method you choose must allow data accessibility between each shipper, warehouse manager and worker. Using tracking methods as part of your container management plan helps you know what is going on with your containers during shipping, storage and delivery.

Proactive Supply Chain Visibility

A proactive container management plan focuses on how data is retrieved, verified and analyzed. Retrieving data may involve using a centralized database or platform allowing authorized users to input data regarding the activities of the container. Once the data enters systems, it becomes verified based on established protocols and baselines to ensure accuracy. After the verification process, you now interpret and analyze the data, looking for abnormalities that may indicate supply chain issues. With all this available information, you can implement strategies to improve supply chain processes.

There are numerous ways to improve container tracking and data visibility. Depending on your operations, you may implement one or several of the following methods.

Container Tracking Technology

GPS tracking and sensors attached to the containers allow you to know where the shipments are in real time. Whether on ship, rail, truck or at the warehouse, the tracking data becomes relayed to a centralized platform that you can view in real time. Using visibility software also allows you to understand the costs associated with shipping or storage, generate reports to locate supply chain bottlenecks and perform accountability procedures.

Point of Contact Consolidation

You only want accurate and relevant data. However, when more people are involved with the shipping and storage of containers, you may obtain large amounts of data, some of which may be redundant or unnecessary. Having a single point of contact with shippers and other transportation companies helps to improve visibility by allowing you to get most of the information from one source. This method reduces human error and creates better communication between transportation companies.

Collaboration Between All Parties

When dealing with so many shippers, warehouse managers and other companies involved with moving your containers, you want everyone to understand their role in the supply chain and how they leverage their resources to make it efficient, reliable and sustainable. Improving collaboration between each party allows you to form stronger business relationships. You can more effectively share data and resources with everyone to inspire more proactive container management when the inevitable delays and dwell time occurs.

Gaining transparency into your supply chain data offers smoother container management to avoid and minimize dwell times. Investing in the necessary collaboration systems, tracking technologies and data reporting software provides a better means of gaining visibility when you are shipping and receiving containers.

Infographic provided by AV Logistics, container management software

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About the Author

Peter Pace | Vice President of Business Development | AV Logistics

Peter Pace is VP of Business Development at AV Logistics and an industry veteran with 35 years of experience in all facets of international shipping and intermodal transportation. He is responsible for identifying new opportunities for growth and expansion within the client bases of AV Logistics and its strategic drayage partner, C&K Trucking LLC.