• shippers

Lifting the Barriers to Terminal Visibility

Ports and terminals provide the critical link between land and sea. But fluctuating demand together with the advent of ultra-large vessels capable of carrying over 24,000 TEUs has put increased pressure on terminals and created unprecedented logistical challenges. Terminals can become major bottlenecks due to outdated manual systems and processes, and a lack of connectivity between terminals and shippers that hampers forward planning causing delays, inefficiency and diminished profitability.

The recent trend toward building larger ships with greater capacity has forced many port operators to invest heavily in deepening and widening port approach channels. They also need to install costly quay cranes and yard cranes to efficiently handle containerships, as well as modernizing berthing facilities and related infrastructure. A single vessel can take several days to unload, requiring terminals to adjust staffing, container storage, and appointment systems to accommodate the ebbs and flows of activities. 

With increasing competition, many terminals have improved technology within their own facilities. However, the value of the connections with their regional counterparts and with the wider supply chain have not been fully extracted even though they play a critical role as the interface between land and sea. 

Most ports are integrated through local port community systems (PCS) and single window platforms, but the data quality and version control have room for improvement. Individual organizations want to optimize their own operations, which would unlock greater global visibility, value and efficiency throughout the supply chain, but it has been a slow process due to the complexity and variation of operations in different regions. 

One of the biggest issues for cargo terminals is visibility. Terminals communicate cargo planning and updates with ocean carriers, truckers, rail providers, and customs agencies. Traditionally passing information to one party at a time, there can be discrepancies and delays in data visibility among the parties. All parties want a smooth flow of cargo at terminals as cargo changes between transportation modes. Improved visibility and communications can boost port operations and reduce truck turn times.

Additionally, shippers have little awareness of where their containers are in the port pipeline, or when they will be unloaded and released. This can impact lead times and make it difficult to schedule onward transportation, distribution and manufacturing. It is essential for terminals to have a global perspective for visibility into port and container operations and offer shippers improved awareness of their shipment status.

Extending Visibility Throughout the Supply Chain

Integrating and sharing reliable data is critical to the success of the supply chain, while an understanding of the operational and environmental factors impacting logistics regionally and globally is also key. Ports and terminals worldwide would benefit significantly from communicating with all supply chain parties, through an ecosystem working in a parallel paradigm, that employs the latest logistics technology to gather, analyze, model, predict and report on data from multiple sources.

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