Visibility for Refrigerated Ocean Carriers

 By Blair Peterson, Vice-President, International Asset Systems (IAS)


In today’s global markets with increasing competition and changing consumer demands, shippers need information – and information is power. Due to growing complexities in the global food supply chain with long transit times and harsh shipping environments, the need for complete visibility within has reached a new high. Shipping high value, perishable commodities require specialized innovative solutions to ensure containers arrive at the right location at the right time.

Current market hurdles exist on container equipment availability, chassis availability (to move containers from port to inland locations), and driver shortages. Collaboration, communication, and visibility of assets are required to overcome these challenges. Using dispatch and chassis management solutions, ocean carriers can provide their customers with information on container location, estimated arrival times, chassis availability, container conditions, and more.

Temperature-sensitive cargo must be shipped in accordance with strict specifications, and ocean carriers must ensure the cargo gets the best possible care using state-of-the-art equipment and monitoring systems. Some containers are equipped with GPS devices, giving remote operators direct access to the state of the container – the temperature, power on/off, etc. Alarms can be set to alert operators when temperatures fall outside of an acceptable level.

Because global food supplies must ship long distances, the ability to ship containers as fast and accurately as possible is key. Using dispatch management solutions, ocean carriers gain visibility into container movements with first and last mile visibility. Carriers can track appointments, deliveries, and completion dates/times in order to monitor and track performance and ensure shipments are handled properly. Invoice charges can be monitored to better control costs. Connecting to a network of intermodal carriers means shippers have access to a wide-variety of shipping opportunities; ensuring containers won’t be sitting on docks waiting for a transport slot on a carrier.

Once containers enter port, they must be put on chassis and picked up by motor carriers to deliver to their final destination. The containers can’t wait, even if they are refrigerated, as many foods have spoilage dates. However, there is a huge shortage of chassis in the market. Using a chassis management system to locate and rent chassis ensures waiting time is eliminated and chassis are in acceptable conditions for transporting goods.

Moving perishable shipments requires extra care and monitoring during transport, real-time visibility into movements, and ability to move shipments quickly and on-time to their end destination to eliminate spoilage. Customers will be more satisfied knowing their food products have been handled with care, in the most cost-effective manner possible.

International Asset Systems (IAS) provides intermodal transportation solutions for dispatch, repair, business intelligence, and chassis management to the world’s largest intermodal information network.