Turmoil pushes ocean freight providers to invest in visibility

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by Emily Atkins

The past few years of supply chain disruptions have drive almost three quarters of ocean freight stakeholders to invest in visibility technology for their operations.

COVID-19, market volatility, global political conflict, material shortages and extreme weather events have driven 73 percent of respondents to invest in supply chain visibility, with 46 percent planning to invest more in 2023.

That’s according to a new survey released today by FourKites. The survey polled over 350 supply chain professionals to shed light on the top issues facing the ocean shipping industry.

“Shippers and other players in the supply chain ecosystem are getting smarter about allocations by tapping into more reliable and real-time data, instead of guessing,” said Chris Stauber, founder of VentureSoftPM.

“They want to know, for instance, what the risk-versus-reward will be for going to an extra port or country to move their containers, or for shifting from one supplier to three for raw supplies. Additional investment is required to get better data, but the value of that data brings a huge reduction in risk.”

The survey has also found that half of respondents reported having zero visibility into their ocean freight, with more than 20 percent relying on manual track-and-trace processes to track their ocean freight. By contrast, 73 percent of respondents reported having some level of visibility into their over-the-road shipping.

More than half of respondents were most concerned about labour challenges, high shipping costs and impacts to customer service, with 35 percent also reporting concerns around congestion at the ports.

The survey findings have been published in the report, The Great Reset: Ocean Shipping in a Post-Pandemic World. The report includes expert analysis on the current state of ocean shipping, predictions for 2023 and ways shippers can shore up their supply chains to build resilience for the future.

FourKites tracks 98 percent of global ocean container traffic across more than 270 lanes and 120 carriers, across every container port in North America and all major ports in Europe.