Container lines are in constant search for ways to improve operations and customer satisfaction. A number of issues can arise during the shipping process, and the introduction of new sensors might just be the solution to many problems.
Container lines have finally become wise to the competitive advantages of the disruptive and innovative ideas of startups. For years, shipping companies were resistant to change; however, the development of technologies such as sensors has made it impossible for them to ignore the potential for an even better shipping experience. As such, container lines are directly investing in startups rather than simply using their products to be able to profit from these technologies in two ways rather than just one.
An Industry Problem
In the past, tracking containers and shipments had been somewhat limited. RFID helped with product tracking; however, it, too, was highly limited in the type of tracking it was able to perform. Containers would become lost, stolen or damaged in-transit. Cargo with perishable items would be destroyed prior to arrival, and lost and stolen containers would never be seen of again. Sensors have been around for some years now to improve upon these tracking issues; however, they also had kinks such as cost, battery life and data relay reliability.
The Latest Sensors
Some of the new sensors have the ability to transmit helpful data such as the exact location of the container at all times, vibration, impacts, temperatures, humidity, sound and movement within the container. These sensors are permanently attached to containers rather than to be used for one-time shipping purposes to be returned to the shipper after its use. And, all data is able to be monitored by an app in real time.
The benefits of these sensors to clients are priceless. If a reefer container is not working properly and a product meant for human consumption rises above a certain temperature, such as meat, it can become inedible. Before, this meat would likely end up on the shelf making hundreds of people ill. With the help of a sensor, clients know immediately that this product cannot be sold and that they must prepare another shipment to replace the order. This is just one example of the ways in which sensors greatly benefit everyone in the shipping process.
The ocean lines who use these sensors can appeal to a wide variety of potential users. All companies with consumer products are potential users of sensor technology. It is likely that companies with perishable products and highly valuable products would be even more interested. They can even be used for political and social issues such as to track human trafficking and illegal immigration.
The growing trend of container lines investing in new technologies and startups paired with the more affordable and reliable sensor technologies will lead to a better shipping experience for all parties involved. With the help of sensors, shippers and end users will have greater transparency to their products moving across the world, and shipping companies can only profit from these enhanced customer experiences.
Davenport Laroche is a shipping container investment agency.