Tracking ocean freight, even under normal circumstances, can feel intimidating. Toss in rapidly changing container-traffic volumes, closed ports and blank sailings, and it can feel insurmountable to keep track of your containers and take action toward improving on-time maritime delivery performance. 

ETA accuracy and inventory management are more important (and more difficult) than ever. Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, checking carrier sites to gain visibility into your container movements was a time consuming and tedious task – but was certainly in the realm of “doable”. That was then. Now, things have changed. Endless delays and canceled strings have made this effort even less practical. Adding stress to the equation is the fact that mission-critical freight is in high demand to restock stores and hospitals, and to ensure that customer needs are met. At FourKites, we’ve made it our mission to help ease these burdens by providing best practices for ocean freight visibility during COVID-19. 

Our resident ocean experts Ashley Lloyd and Karthick Natarajan recently hosted a webinar to provide additional insight into the many ways our ocean visibility solution is poised to help your organization face these international freight visibility challenges. We’ll quickly cover the highlights below. 

Improving on-time delivery is top of mind for ocean freight shippers, especially for those carrying goods desperately needed by medical professionals. Companies need a steady flow of goods into their warehouses, while managing detention and demurrage charges. But it’s difficult to know when a container will make it to port without insight into the location of the container. With real-time lat/long location pings, you’ll know where your containers are on the water at any moment. FourKites is integrated with over 2,000 international ports and 55 carriers, covering 98% of ocean freight. Based on these real-time location updates, the platform provides highly accurate predictive ETAs that are so instrumental in today’s global economy. 

As a result of the pandemic, we have seen common modes of freight transport experiencing increased delays. The sheer magnitude of those delays can make it overwhelming to try to sort out which of your containers needs urgent intervention. FourKites’ Ocean Executive Dashboard can quickly show you which loads are on time, late or very late. Integrated messaging tools and load tagging enable teams to quickly communicate which loads are at risk. With this information, your teams will be empowered to more knowledgeably manage exceptions, so they can spend less time making calls to sort out challenges and more time arranging alternate plans.

Gartner’s recent report, “How to Use Technology to Increase International Visibility in Times of Crisis”, speaks to the importance of staying in front of the evolving status of ports from which your goods flow in and out. “These country lockdowns are forcing some businesses and factories to slow down or completely stop their operations to help maintain the well-being of their workers and the public, reducing the supply of goods available in the market,” the report states. “The same is happening at ports, in which the effects of the measures to fight the virus are causing other problems, such as port congestions or lack of storage space to position the containers.” The report features FourKites’ new Network Congestion Map enables you to view live wait times at over 230 international ports, as well as border-crossing wait times internationally for over-the-road loads.

Gartner asserts that “visibility technology in international transportation is posed to be a key ally to organizations in order to help navigate crises such as COVID-19. This technology allows organizations to take more informed decisions, leveraging data from ports and ocean carriers, to predict certain events, such as port congestions or delays.” These are the primary concerns we hear from customers as they approach us for help with ocean visibility. 

In an effort to help ease these burdens, we are offering our Ocean Visibility platform for free for 60 days. If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer, do not hesitate to contact us at hello@fourkites.com. If you are already a FourKites customer, your Customer Success Manager will be happy to help get you set up. 

For further information on how to optimize your supply chain during this time and to read up on the latest trends observed across FourKites’ data network, visit our dedicated COVID-19 site.

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