A crucial part of managing supply chain efficiently is being regularly updated about the movement of all your international shipments. It is the visibility over your containers that can equip you to make quick and sound decisions in case of any disruptions.
Today, several online container tracking tools make it possible to track your shipment in real-time by offering you the exact, live location of your container at any given point in time.
The best kind of systems are those which give you automatic updates every time your container completes an essential milestone in its journey. This way, while the system auto-notifies you about the real-time location of your container by tracking and tracing your shipment in real-time , your team can focus on more critical tasks at hand.
Typically, the system notifies you when there is a status change or a delay due to some disruption. Some of the crucial status changes are as follows:
Container location tracking is considered to be of immense importance due to the uncertainty surrounding the shipping industry. The shipper fills the container and sends it to the port with the expectation that it will be loaded onto the vessel and delivered to its destination. But the process involves several steps, and that creates the possibility of the container not reaching the destined place as per the schedule.
For instance, a container may be accidentally offloaded at the wrong port, and the carrier may only realise this after it has left the port. This could lead to a delay of several weeks or even months in getting the container to its intended destination. However, if the shipper has access to the real-time location of that container, he will be able to take the right steps to deal with such a situation.
Typically, to track and trace a container on an online container tracking system, you will need to enter either the booking number of your container or the Master Bill of Lading number or the container number.
As soon as you key in the number, the online container tracking system will instantly display the real-time location of the concerned container.
There are two key things you need to track a container, a tracking number which could be your container number or booking number or Bill of Lading number and access to an intelligent container tracking system.
Numbers that could be used for container tracking:
Tracking sea shipment by booking number:
A booking number is a value assigned to the reservation of space or a particular service. This number is used to identify and often trace the status of the shipment. In case of shipping, it is issued by a carrier or freight forwarder to the shipper.
It is usually found on the receipts or invoices, etc. generated after making a reservation. A shipper can use this number to track his shipments on online container tracking systems.
Sea cargo tracking with Bill of Lading number:
A Bill of Lading is a legally binding agreement issued by the carrier to the shipper. A Bill of Lading number is a unique number that appears on this document. It is given at the time the cargo is accepted for shipment by the carrier. Shipment tracking with BL number is a widely used method of tracking containers. Several tools available in the market today allow you to track shipments by BL number instantly.
Types of container tracking systems:
More the visibility you have over your shipments, more scope you have to minimise risks and unpleasant surprises. Thus, how to track shipping containers online has become a commonly asked question. To track your containers instantly, in real-time using GoComet’s container tracking tool , you can follow the following steps:
You can use the container tracking tool for sea shipment tracking by vessel name and track your international shipments with different shipping line companies on a single dashboard.
To keep pace with the rapidly changing global supply chain industry and have the edge over your competitors, real-time visibility over your shipments is a must. Till the time digital technology-based solutions emerged in the supply chain space, tracking shipments was a laborious process.
In order to keep track of all the shipments, logistics managers had to manually visit websites of shipping lines or make calls to their freight forwarders, key in the booking number for each container and check the status. To make matters worse, the intervals at which the data would get updated were not known which created scope for misleading information.
But present-day advancements in technology, have simplified the process and made it easier for companies to track sea shipments in real-time. The emergence of state-of-the-art container tracking systems can give timely, live updates on the different stages in the movement of your freight. These software enable you to deal with any rerouting or delays proactively.
With companies increasingly turning towards automated container tracking systems, the market has witnessed an explosion of such software. This has made it difficult for companies to separate the wheat from the chaff and choose the system that meets the requirements of their business.
We have done our due diligence and compiled a list of some of the well-known container tracking software available in the market today. While the list may not be exhaustive, it will help you get started with your research regarding the container tracking systems available.
Any intelligent container tracking system should be able to provide information such as the name of the port where your containers might be stored, live location of your containers, status and exact delivery times and more. Here are some of the container tracking systems that have helped several companies streamline their freight transportation processes and gain visibility over the movement of their freight:
Before you go ahead and invest in a container tracking system, there are several key questions that you must ask to make sure that you are making the right choice. While a sound system can help you drive process efficiency and build agility in your operations, a system that doesn’t work efficiently can adversely affect your business.
Moreover, with a wide variety of options to choose from in the market, finding software that best suits your company’s needs can be quite a daunting task.
Here are some questions that you must consider when investing in a container tracking software:
Earlier container tracking was a laborious and time-consuming task that required people to visit sites of each carrier or make phone calls to their freight forwarders to trace and track every single shipment.
Thus, keeping track of the whereabouts of a shipment was quite inconvenient. But thanks to the emergence of technology in this field, online container tracking on a single dashboard is possible today.
There are several container tracking tools available in the market today. Paid container tracking software naturally offer more features such as advanced data-analytics coupled with instant actionable insights and more. Investing in one of these paid container tracking software can be certainly fruitful if you have a substantial number of shipments per month.
For instance, GoComet’s container tracking software will give you real-time tracking updates, notify you each time there’s a delay. Still, most importantly, it will track the performance of the carriers you work with, the routes you use, etc. and help you identify the best lanes, service providers and more. This kind of data analysis will go a long way in optimising your business.
Besides, the software will allow you to share tracking data with your customers as well, making way for unprecedented transparency and improved customer service.
However, there are other online container tracking tools such as the GoComet lite container tracking tool that enable instant, real-time tracking for free.
If you want to track your container online using an instant container tracking tool, typically you will have to visit the container tracking tool page, key in your relevant container number or Master Bill of Lading number or else your booking number. Once you enter the number, the tracking tool will display the real-time location of your shipment.
What’s more? You can even get automatic updates on the movement of your shipments, especially every time the status of your shipment changes. In brief, you can track and trace containers effortlessly with the help of the container tracking systems available today.
In today’s time and age, if a company has a large number of shipments per month, then the company in all likelihood invests in a container tracking software. The ROI is exceptionally high for companies with hundreds and thousands of shipments every month.
Here’s how a container tracking system offers value to companies that have an import-export oriented business:
In a typical scenario, for a company with hundreds of shipments per month, the supply chain team will have to visit several sites manually and struggle to keep a record of each shipment. To make matters worse, these sites may not be updated at all times and thus, end up being misleading.
However, container tracking software is a real game-changer in this sense. Once the required shipping details are entered, the system continues to automatically track the containers till they reach the customers. Every time an important milestone is achieved, the team members get notified automatically.
Besides, the user interface is designed in a way that the person tracking the containers can see the status of all his shipments on a single dashboard simultaneously. An added advantage is how the software also records multiple data points throughout the journey of your container.
With the help of the data recorded, the supply chain management team can make informed decisions based on the performance of various carriers. This in return, helps drive efficiency and significant cost-savings.
If you understand the shipping container number, you can tell quite a lot about the container by merely looking at the number. A container number is the most critical and complex marking on the door of the container. It is an alpha-numeric sequence consisting of four letters and seven numbers used to identify containers internationally.
Let’s look at what these four letters and seven numbers represent in a shipping container number:
To better understand the digits, let’s consider the number MAEU1234569.
Shipping containers are the most integral part of the global shipping industry. They play a significant role in keeping the world’s goods moving. Moving freight in containers ensures that the goods reach their destination safely irrespective of how long the journey takes. Depending on the type of containers, they are transported using different types of container ships.
Similarly, depending on the nature of the goods to be transported or the specific purposes you would want the containers to serve, the type, materials, structure, dimensions, etc. of the containers also vary. Today a wide range of containers are available to meet the needs of a variety of cargo and ensure that right from perishable goods to particular goods that need to be shipped under specific conditions can be transported successfully.
Following is a list of some of the most commonly used shipping containers:
Dry storage container
Flat rack container
Open top container
Open side storage container
Double doors/Tunnel container
Refrigerated ISO containers
Insulated or thermal containers
Cargo storage roll container
Intermediate bulk shift containers
Special purpose containers
If you run an import-export oriented business, you are sure to come across the term Bill of Lading or its abbreviations – BL/BOL or B/L – during your work.
For those who are new to the business and still trying to understand the terms commonly used in the shipping industry, Bill of Lading is a crucial and legally binding document that carries details about a shipment. For instance, it includes information about the type of goods, the quantity, destination of the goods along with more details of the shipper, consignee, carrier being used, etc.
The main objective of a Bill of Lading is to minimise the scope for any risks due to gaps in communication between the stakeholders involved in the end-to-end shipping process.
The terms 'Bill of Lading' consists of two keywords, 'Bill' and 'Lading.' Let's look at what these words mean.
In this case, a 'bill' implies a statement; it could be printed, hand-written or in today's world in digital format. This statement contains the details regarding the cost of the items that are to be delivered or a service that's being offered.
On the other hand, the word 'lading' refers to the act of putting or loading goods on an aircraft/ship/truck or any different modes of transport to be carried from one place to another.
Definition of Bill of Lading:
A Bill of Lading can be defined as, "A document that's issued by a carrier or an agent of the carrier, to the shipper (consignor) as a contract of carriage of goods. It also acts as a receipt for cargo accepted for transportation by the carrier and must be delivered to the designated destination."
What is the purpose of a Bill of Lading?
A Bill of Lading serves three primary purposes which are as follows:
It's essential to note that the Bill of Lading document offers legal protection to the sending and receiving parties against losses and false claims. This is because the information being carried in the document is mutually agreed upon by the parties involved and thus, can act as a lawful statement in case any dispute arises.
What information does a Bill Of Lading include?
A Bill of Lading carries detailed information about the shipper (consignor) of goods, importer (consignee), carrier (transporter) being used and the cargo that's being transported.
Following is a list of details you will find in the document:
Types of Bills of Lading
Following is a list of different types of Bill of Lading categorised based on the carrier, transportation, payment and consignee type.
As discussed earlier, the Bill of Lading is a legal document and hence can be used in litigation. Just the fact that it’s a legally binding contract illustrates how important it is for parties involved in shipping goods to understand the document. As noted previously, a Bill of Lading serves three primary purposes:
Importance of a Bill of Lading:
The importance of a Bill of Lading can be explained from the point of view of a shipper, consignee and the shipping line company/carrier.
In case of the title exporter, the Bill of Lading is crucial for the following reasons:
Here’s why a Bill of Lading is essential to an importer:
Here’s why Bill fo Lading is vital to title shipping company:
As a shipper, you need to be familiar with a variety of words that are regularly used in the shipping industry. These words are industry-specific, and having a clear understanding of such terms can go a long way in ensuring ease while carrying out business.
The terms gate in and gate out are two such vital terms associated with shipping containers.
Following is the meaning of the term gate in:
The term refers to the action when a shipping container enters a controlled area such as a port or an inland terminal. The process of gating in a container is considered to be completed when the concerned operator of the controlled area becomes in charge of the container legally.
A container needs to gate in at the container yard before the Container Yard (CY) cut-off, while a Less than Container Load (LCL) shipment needs to gate in at the Container Freight Station (CFS) before the Container Freight Station (CFS) cut-off.
Whereas the meaning of the term gate out is as follows:
Gate out is the action opposite of gate in. Gate-out is when a shipping container is moved out of a controlled area such as a port or an inland terminal. Gate out is considered to be completed only after the possession of the container is transferred from the operator of the controlled area to the entity who is in charge of picking up the container.
You can easily track a cargo shipment in real-time using an online container tracing tool. Today, free as well as paid tools are available in the market. These tools offer the following options:
Supply chain visibility could mean different things to different parties involved in the supply chain, however, an integral part of visibility that cannot be overlooked is having access to accurate information on the movement of your international shipments. Fundamentally, having supply chain visibility would imply having the ability to effortlessly track and trace every single element that forms your supply chain network. Undoubtedly, this level of sophistication is challenging to achieve. However, modern-day digital solutions have made it possible to gain an unprecedented level of visibility over shipments.
With end-to-end visibility over the functioning of your supply chain network, every time something goes wrong, you’re well equipped to identify and resolve the issue at the earliest. It allows you to address unforeseen problems quickly and offers flexibility.
Given how complex supply chains can be, the major challenge is being able to access all the relevant information at one place. Above all, the information should be available in such a way that every concerned party involved in the chain can easily access the same set of data.
It is here that the modern-day shipping container tracking solutions step in. These systems make it possible for you to track all your shipments in real-time on a single dashboard. These software automatically notify you every time your freight achieves a milestone in its journey and even alert you regarding possible delays.
Here's how GoComet's container tracking system can help you achieve unprecedented transparency and visibility over the movement of your containers and boost operations:
As the software will equip you with the ability to monitor the movement of your shipments in real-time, you will be able to make better, data-driven business decisions.The system will help you drive efficiency with better strategic planning, gain increased control over your network and thus, boost your profitability.
As the system helps you stay updated continuously about the whereabouts of your goods, you are better equipped to make alternative arrangements in light of any disruptions.
Besides, by keeping your customers informed about these changes, you can help them be equally proactively in handling exceptional situations. Such timely updates can also ensure that you don’t incur demurrage or detention charges or any other extra operational costs like fees for lost or compromised shipment.
Once you automate the tracking process with GoComet's digital container tracking solution, the system will record several data points for you. Going a step further, the software will also analyse these numbers and offer quick, actionable insights at your convenience.
As the time taken for every shipment, delays and more gets documented precisely, you will be able to quickly identify who is your best service provider and make informed decisions based on this information.
At this point, the value offered by real-time container tracking systems is indisputable. The real challenge today lies in finding a solution that best suits the requirements of your business and helps you drive profitability.
If you would like to learn more about how GoComet’s shipment tracking system can help you gain end-to-end supply chain visibility by automating tracking and leverage predictive analytics to drive cost savings, schedule a demo here.