wefreight logo
February 22, 2024

How Ocean Freight Tracking Ensures Seamless Logistics

ocean freight tracking and logistics

Ocean freight shipping accounts for over 90% of global merchandise trade by volume. However, rising cargo volumes lead to growing complexities in ocean freight services. Ocean freight tracking technologies provide end-to-end visibility and actionable insights to optimize maritime supply chains. 

This article will discuss what ocean freight tracking entails, the technologies that enable it, the critical role it plays in logistics management, key benefits for supply chains, solutions to common tracking challenges, and emerging trends set to transform the future of freight visibility. 

Understanding Ocean Freight Tracking  

Ocean freight tracking refers to the ability to monitor the real-time location and condition of cargo as it moves from origin to destination via oceangoing vessels. It provides detailed visibility into each step of the shipment journey. 

Tracking leverages technologies like GPS, RFID tags, and multi-parameter IoT sensors. GPS satellites continuously transmit location data of tagged containers and vessels. Battery-powered RFID tags attached to containers and pallets wirelessly update status. Smart sensors monitor crucial cargo parameters like temperature, humidity, shock, tilt, and report anomalies.  

These devices integrate with shipping containers, vessels, and port infrastructure to transmit data to central cloud-based tracking platforms, offering real-time cargo oversight to all stakeholders. 

logistics tracking

The Role of Ocean Freight Tracking in Logistics Management   

Accurate and timely visibility into cargo movements allows for data-driven decision-making, enhancing the efficiency of maritime operations. For example, tracking technologies can predict vessel arrival times with remarkable accuracy, facilitating better planning and resource allocation at ports. They also enable logistics managers to optimize stowage plans, ensuring balanced loads and preventing delays.  

Benefits of Ocean Freight Tracking for Supply Chain Optimization 

From a supply chain perspective, the granular visibility offered by freight tracking translates into: 

Improved efficiency 

The precision afforded by ocean freight tracking technologies allows for an unprecedented level of control and oversight over cargo movements by ocean freight companies. This capability is crucial for identifying and addressing delays in real-time, enabling shippers and logistics managers to take immediate corrective actions. For example, if a shipment is delayed due to bad weather or port congestion, alternative routes can be quickly evaluated and implemented, minimizing disruptions to the supply chain. Data analytics further bolsters efficiency by optimizing vessel speeds, routes taken by carriers, and terminal operations.  

Enhanced security 

The detailed oversight made possible by tracking technologies ensures that any unauthorized access or deviations from planned routes are quickly detected, allowing for immediate intervention. This level of security is particularly vital for high-value or sensitive shipments, where the risk of theft could have significant financial or operational repercussions. 

Cost savings 

Tracking helps reduce demurrage and detention charges in global shipping by minimizing delays, thus bringing down ocean freight cost. A 2021 study by Drewry found that real-time container tracking can help to reduce demurrage and detention charges by up to 30%. Further, savings result from better inventory planning, averting cargo spoilage, and route optimization for lower fuel needs.   

Sustainability 

The ecological impact of ocean freight is something that is on top of the mind of companies, with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) focused on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Ocean freight route optimization is the key with ocean freight tracking technologies enhancing sustainability by selecting the most efficient routes and vessel speeds, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  

Real-time cargo data facilitates informed decisions, leading to smoother voyages and minimized environmental impact. These efficiencies support the shipping industry’s goals to meet global emissions reduction targets, demonstrating the critical role of technology in promoting sustainable global trade. All the above benefits will help companies provide even better ocean freight customer service. 

Challenges and Solutions in Ocean Freight Tracking 

Integration with Existing Systems: Many shipping companies operate with legacy systems that may not easily integrate with modern tracking technologies. This can lead to significant challenges in achieving seamless real-time visibility. 

Data Volume and Management: The sheer volume of data generated by tracking devices can be overwhelming. Effectively managing, analysing, and securing this data requires robust IT infrastructure and capabilities. 

Cost of Implementation 

For many businesses, especially small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the initial investment in tracking technology can be prohibitive. This includes costs for hardware, software, and training. 

Global Standardization 

The lack of standardized protocols and technologies across countries and companies can hinder the interoperability of tracking systems, complicating global tracking efforts. 

Privacy and Security Concerns 

With the increased collection of data comes the heightened risk of breaches and misuse. Ensuring the privacy and security of tracking data is paramount. 

Solutions to Ocean Freight Tracking Challenges 

Flexible Integration Platforms 

Adopting flexible, cloud-based platforms that can easily integrate with existing systems can alleviate integration issues. These platforms can serve as intermediaries, translating and transferring data between new tracking technologies and legacy systems. 

Advanced Data Analytics and AI 

Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can help manage and analyse the vast amounts of data generated by tracking devices. These technologies can identify patterns, predict issues, and suggest optimizations, making data more actionable. 

Scalable Solutions and SaaS Models 

To overcome cost barriers, companies can look towards scalable tracking solutions and Software as a Service (SaaS) models. These options allow businesses to pay for only what they use, reducing upfront investments and making advanced tracking technologies more accessible. 

Robust Cybersecurity Measures 

Implementing strong cybersecurity measures, including encryption, secure authentication, and regular audits, can protect tracking data from unauthorized access and breaches. Additionally, adhering to international data protection regulations, such as GDPR, can ensure the privacy of sensitive information. 

The Future of Ocean Freight Tracking and Logistics   

Emerging technologies in ocean freight such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G networks will revolutionise the shipping industry by enabling real-time tracking of containers, providing detailed insights into their location, temperature, humidity, and security status. Ocean freight trends point towards an increasing use of advanced sensors that will collect nuanced data like pressure and shock, enhancing the understanding of shipment conditions and optimizing handling. By 2025, the global IoT market in logistics is expected to reach $41.2 billion – this stat gives a fair inkling of ocean freight operations in the future. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics will leverage this data to predict delays, optimize routes, and improve efficiency. Blockchain technology will simplify document handling and customs clearance, while Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and autonomous vessels promise to boost efficiency and reduce human error.  

The industry is also focusing on sustainability through the adoption of alternative fuels and the development of sustainable port operations in ocean freight.  

In Conclusion 

Ocean freight tracking empowers stakeholders across maritime logistics with unmatched visibility and actionable business intelligence for streamlined operations, lower costs, and sustainable growth. With different ocean freight types cross-crossing international waters customers must ensure they choose the most viable tracking solution that best suits the cargo’s journey and visibility needs.  

As emerging technologies drive greater innovation, global supply chains are gearing up to redefine benchmarks in efficiency, transparency, resilience, and collaboration.  

Stay up to date about
the latest news and insights

Want all the latest WeFreight news and insights delivered
directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter and stay
updated on the latest developments.

Want all the latest WeFreight news and insights delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest developments.

Insight Form