Felix Richter, CEO
Remember when shipping containers were introduced in 1956, triggering a revolution in global trade? If we roll back a few years, ocean freight, like any other business, was completely different and very much behind the times.
Fast forward to today, one cannot possibly imagine how goods were shipped in individual crates and barrels before the first shipping container came into the picture. Sure enough, there was special attention paid to careful loading and unloading; however, there was no right way to ensure that different customers’ cargo didn’t get mixed up. Then came along the famous Tantlinger’s better box that forever changed the way sea trade operates.
What followed was massive technological disruption, whereby consumer expectations grew unabated, and all of the antiquated techniques of ocean shipping seem like chronicles of a distant past. And yet, 64 years later, ocean freight is still trapped in a whirlwind of impediments—not only from what we hope will be temporary disruptions caused by the coronavirus but also challenges that are as old as the industry itself. Layers of complexity and inefficiency in global supply chains have latched onto the sector for years, creating room for misunderstandings and distrust along the way. The problems do not end there! While digitalization made its way into businesses of all sorts and sizes as a beacon of hope, global sea trade has been ridiculously slow in adopting digital technology to turn their problems into opportunities. The IT standardization in ocean freight is lagging years behind what we are used to in other industries and our personal lives. Shuffling spreadsheets around and manual research on dozens of websites is still the usual process. Customers, meanwhile, want real-time, actionable information on how their goods are transported and cared for with visibility into the entire sequence—from port to port.
As just-in-time manufacturing and delivery expand, real-time supply chain visibility becomes an indispensable component of inventory management. Container vessels become (in a real sense) “Floating Warehouses” where the movement, tracking, and prediction of inventory is required on a global scale. This is where leading ocean supply chain visibility and market intelligence provider, Ocean Insights, is making a profound impact on an industry that has been traditionally considered a digital laggard. “Ocean Insights is the global leader in ocean supply chain visibility space, offering data and software to a rapidly changing and technology driven global supply chain industry,” says Dr Felix Richter, CEO of Ocean Insights.
Ocean Freight Visibility Like Never Before
Founded in 2012, Ocean Insights pioneered the process of combining container liner schedules and carriers’ container tracking information with neutral Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking data. This allows customers to plan and monitor operations on a level never experienced before. The company focuses on providing accurate and comprehensive data on all global shipping lines and services and a Container Track and Trace platform to eliminate IT and data complexities.
A best-in-class ocean freight visibility software platform, Container Track and Trace (CTT) simplifies client’s workflow by providing real-time status alerts, predictive insights, and performance analysis on all of their shipments and carriers. Value from ocean freight visibility comes in the form of:
● Inventory optimization- Visibility can provide validated average transit times to allow data-based decisions on buffer stock optimization and reductions in Total Network Days on Hand (working capital.)
We leverage big data analytics for predicted time of arrivals, bringing further confidence to a shipment’s ETA than ever before
● Demurrage and detention savings- Visibility can help identify which containers are subject to D&D and help to reduce actual D&D proactively.
● Improved customer satisfaction- Freight forwarders and software resellers can share status updates with customers or other stakeholders or can be used by customer service teams to respond faster to customer complaints/inquires.
● Improved operational efficiency- Accurate cargo visibility can improve organizational productivity by 15 – 35 per cent, and staff resource hours can be re-directed to higher value-added objectives.
● Improving strategic procurement- Visibility can provide consolidated end-to-end performance results for making strategic procurement decisions.
Ocean Insights implements machine learning and advanced statistics to power its Predicted ETA capabilities. “We leverage big data analytics for predicted time of arrivals, bringing further confidence to a shipment’s ETA than ever before. Our customers require real-time container visibility for both themselves and the clients they serve. For instance, real-time visibility translates into the power to take action on shipment delays to avoid fees or replacement costs,” explains Richter.
Keeping the Data Game Strong
Since the beginning, Ocean Insights has been changing the game for Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCO) and freight forwarders by digitizing their workflow processes. Data being the lifeblood of any digitalization initiative, Ocean Insights supplies real-time tracking data and market analysis to large shippers from a broad range of industries, including automotive, manufacturing, food and beverage, commodity trading, chemical and freight forwarding. “Data is only helpful when it is available, well-structured, and reliable. We have clients who have tried various container tracking solutions, but they always had data issues that ultimately created more questions than answers. At Ocean Insights, the quality of the data is our number one priority. Our customers may choose to base their entire TMS on Ocean Insights’ data to ensure reliable outcomes,” adds Richter.
The company’s comprehensive Container Sailing Schedules (CSS) data service provides curated container schedule data. Richter remarks, “We offer curated, complete, and reliable data sets along with dedicated customer support and integration support for the data service.”
Traditional vendors are notorious for offering incomplete data sets that are chalked full of erroneous data. On the contrary, Ocean Insights provides complete and reliable schedule data to feed system platforms and improve different aspects of ocean freight:
● Spot Booking
● Planning shipments
● Customer service by sharing schedule information with clients
● Sales tools
● Building outstanding products based on complete data sets
● Show reliable schedules along with rates or allocation details
● Need schedules to book shipments online
Spotlight on Concrete Customer Relations
Given that clients today want to become educated and well informed about a service and its benefits and risks well before they make a purchase decision, Ocean Insights individually approaches each client while also learning about their workflows, structures, pain-points, and concerns.
Richter shares, “As with any relationship, we aim to be a good fit and become a trusted, long-term partner. And as it turns out, it happens to help when your product works really well and is easy to deploy in an organization.” Clients also want to be assured that a product is always improving. Our clients know that we are the natural leader in our industry and it is our job to show them how and why they can benefit from the product and relationship with us,” he adds.
While Ocean Insights has had many successful client partnerships over the years, it’s engagement with leading automotive supplier best exemplifies its unparalleled supply chain visibility capabilities. In today’s just-in-time manufacturing environment, delays in shipped parts almost always lead to significant production issues. This was precisely the problem a large U.S. automaker wanted to avoid. Carrier updates of the ETA a week before a container ship’s arrival through conventional tracking and tracing (T&T) just weren’t good enough. Hellmann, the automaker’s logistics provider, needed complete supply chain visibility via a state-of-the-art tracking and tracing solution.
“Ocean Insights is the global leader in ocean supply chain visibility space, offering data and software to a rapidly changing and technology driven global supply chain industry”
This dilemma led Hellmann to research possible container T&T solutions and chose Ocean Insights. Hellmann now uses Ocean Insights’ CTT web app to service the client’s needs by feeding shipment-related data into Ocean Insights’ portal, downloading shipment status reports daily from that portal, and feeding the status report back to Hellmann’s transport management system (TMS), which is connected by API with the client’s TMS. This way, Hellmann has been able to satisfy this client’s challenging demands for complete supply chain transparency. This was a critical factor in the service contract being extended. By utilizing the T&T data from Ocean Insights, Hellmann was able to provide two daily updates on all the U.S. automaker’s in-transit containers along with a much more accurate ETA based on Ocean Insights’ data. The well-founded shipment data is now enabling Hellmann to update T&T faster and much more accurately than before. In addition to all these client benefits, the Ocean Insights’ tool is bringing Hellmann significant time savings, approximately 11.6 staff hours a day, and generating quick ROI.
Sights Set on Delivering Excellence
“At Ocean Insights, we support your day-to-day operations and strategic decisions. With best-in-class software and our growing team of experts, we make supply chain data visible and actionable. Our vision is to become the global leader in the consolidation and evaluation of ocean freight data to solve your most demanding supply chain challenges,” Richter says. To support its mission, the company has created a S.U.R.F work culture. It stands for (Safe, Uncomplicated, Respectful, Fun) and guides the Ocean Insights team on not only how to work together, but also how they approach their relationships with clients and partners.
With its CTT platform, Ocean Insights has provided its customers with turn-key visibility of their entire ocean freight, often for the very first time. Building on that data, the company is committed to helping customers across the entire spectrum of ocean freight, from purchasing and tendering over execution to customer service and supply chain optimization. Keeping up the excellent quality of service, Ocean Insights will continue to deliver smart and user-friendly tools that enable new, efficient workflows, and deep insights for sound decisions.
Ending on a positive note, Richter comments, “The sheer number of blank sailings during the COVID crisis threw the industry a curve-ball, causing unprecedented disruptions in manufacturing and warehouse stock. For our clients, having access to real-time data on blank sailings, freight locations and ETA made a huge difference in their ability to manage these trying times.”