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Actionable ocean insights provide pathway to success amid industry evolution

The logistics industry as a whole has been shaken up over the past few years. While every sector has seen its fair share of upgrades, challenging and shifting priorities, the ocean environment has proven especially rife for change. 

This shifting landscape can be attributed to a wide swath of factors, from the industry wide technological revolution to the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In reality, various opportunities, innovations and headwinds converged to shape the logistics industry of today. 

When looking specifically at maritime activity, these changes can be conceptualized by analyzing the evolution of Chinese exports over the past four years.

“The volume of exports out of China is lower than pre-COVID times. In March of 2019, we saw a TEU capacity of 29.71 million TEUs leave China,” Jenna Slagle, project44’s senior marketing data analyst, said. “In March 2022, this number was down 65% to 10.66 million TEUs. March 2023 had a 140% increase compared to 2022, but this number is still 13% lower than 2019.”

This volume drop is illustrative of two recent industry trends: the shift away from Chinese manufacturing and lower order volumes due to inflated inventories.

Navigating the influx of nearshoring and reshoring activity — combined with leftover pandemic-fueled market shifts and a looming recession — can prove challenging for even the most experienced logistics professionals. 

Visibility powerhouse project44 recently unveiled six new capabilities to complement its existing suite of offerings and provide additional value, offer visibility into new modes and deliver insights into historically opaque parts of the supply chain.

This new set of offerings features additional maritime insights, including ocean ETAs, emissions tracking and roll-on/roll-off visibility.

“We ingest, cleanse and normalize data from these many sources and deliver it in a single platform along with insights that are more actionable than those provided by carriers,” Margaret Selid, project44’s senior product marketing manager, said. “This allows customers to make better decisions, faster.”

Ocean ETAs

Shippers and logistics service providers rely on their visibility partners to provide precise modal and multimodal ETAs in order to meet the strict on-time, in-full delivery agreements that dominate today’s market. 

When ETAs are accurate and specific, shippers can plan for arrivals, proactively address arrival time changes and keep their own customers informed. The opposite is also true. When ETA data proves untrustworthy, shippers lose the ability to manage their supply chains, and their own reputations take a hit.

“When most visibility companies talk about ‘ocean ETAs,’ they’re talking about when the ship arrives at the port vicinity, which can be off by up to 18 hours,” Selid said. “The difference between when the ship arrives at the port and when the container is discharged can be up to four days.”

This information is often too vague to be helpful. At p44, ETAs are calculated using advanced data science techniques that allow insights into both arrival and discharge times, among other milestones. 

With the company’s recent update, p44 has unveiled a brand-new model for calculating ocean ETAs that improves accuracy surrounding vessel arrival, container discharge and final inland destination arrival even further. It also ensures greater completeness of ocean visibility by inputting events that customers wouldn’t have previously received from their carriers.

Ocean Emissions Visibility

Supply chain emissions are a hot topic — and a growing problem for the environment. Freight transportation contributed 2.9 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2015 and is on track to double by 2050, according to the International Transport Forum Outlook 2019. Legislators and consumers are taking note of these trends, and they are demanding change. 

Not too long ago, eco-conscious logistics companies were able to tout their sustainability initiatives as a standout perk. Now, investing in Earth-friendly operations is more of a requirement than an option. 

The pressure to clean up transportation operations is coming from all sides — government leaders, end consumers and industry partners. Doing so, however, is easier said than done for many organizations. 

“For many companies, up to 60% of emissions are scope 3 supply chain emissions, originating from assets they don’t control. Since they don’t control these assets, it’s hard to measure their emissions. And it’s nearly impossible to fix what you can’t measure,” Selid said. “This is where project44 comes in. As the industry leader in supply chain visibility with exclusive partnerships with GLEC-accredited emissions calculation providers, we’re uniquely positioned to help shippers and LSPs tackle scope 3 emissions and create a more sustainable supply chain.”

project44 provides ocean emissions visibility by collecting customer shipment data utilized for ocean visibility and calculating the actual (not average) emissions with its emissions calculation partners. From there, the company is able to deliver shipment-level visibility into its ocean emissions. 

“Our proprietary data populates easy-to-use dashboards with historical carbon footprint intelligence with shipment-level granularity that enable customers to compare emissions by trade lane and carrier over time,” Selid said.

The company chose to launch its emissions offering by focusing on ocean because it is one of the most-polluting modes, accounting for an estimated 30% of global freight transportation emissions. Other modes will become available in the future, however.

RoRo Visibility

Visibility offerings for containerized freight have expanded widely over the years. The same cannot be said for other types of cargo, namely automobiles and heavy machinery. 

Historically, shippers and logistics providers moving these types of freight have had to make do with piecemeal — and often inaccurate — insights, making it difficult to impossible to optimize their supply chains. 

project44’s new RoRo Visibility offering changes the game for those shippers.

“Our new RoRo Visibility is a truly differentiated offering for project44 that brings visibility to a type of cargo that has, to date, not had anywhere near the level of visibility of containerized freight,” Selid said. “RoRo Visibility enables organizations to improve planning, manage exceptions and get ahead of disruptions to improve reliability of international shipping.​”

Ultimately, all of p44’s new capabilities — along with its existing suite of offerings — are designed to enable customers to make more informed, quicker decisions. 

The company achieves this by providing:

  • Proactive alerts around delays and other order status changes.
  • Help identifying the most efficient carrier and route.
  • Assistance knowing when expedited services are needed to meet commitments.
  • Assistance knowing when additional inventory is needed to meet demand.
  • Help identifying which containers to prioritize for movement out of terminals.

“All of the above are decisions that, without project44, would be made with incomplete data and therefore lower confidence, hindering a company’s ability to make the optimal choice,” Selid said.

Click here to learn more about project44’s newest capabilities.