Crux Systems Insights

Container tracking: behind the scenes

March 1, 2018 by Jennifer Colvin |

Container tracking

It takes a global network of shippers, freight forwarders, truckers, brokers, and more to coordinate the movement of more than 20 million containers that are brought into the US and Canada each year. 

Even though there are a lot of different parties involved in managing those shipments at different stages, pretty much everyone wants to know the same thing: what's going on with my container?

But to figure out exactly what's happening with your container - where it is, when it's expected to depart and arrive, and if there are any problems that need to be addressed - you're probably dealing with any number of the parties involved in the shipment of that container, who are all using separate systems. It's no surprise, then, that information is often missing, incomplete, or simply wrong.

We've been gathering data on ocean cargo for a while now, and we've found that about 30% of the time there's issues with the data that need to be addressed. Sometimes shipping lines don’t release information until shortly before arrival, or multiple terminals will report that they are expecting to receive the same container, or information about different types of holds is not readily accessible.  

If you've been trying to track down information about your containers by going to multiple websites, making phone calls, and sending emails, you've probably found the same issues.

One of the ways we address these issues is by aggregating and normalizing data from multiple sources (including 20 shipping lines, 66 terminals, transportation management systems, and more) so that we can fill in the missing pieces and confirm that the data is correct. 

When you track a container on our platform, our system automatically determines the shipping line and then searches the appropriate terminals for additional information. Behind the scenes, we can get most of the information automatically. Our algorithms reduce the data issues from 30% to about 7%, so we only need to step in for the exceptions. 

For the cases when we find that information just doesn't line up, like when a shipping line reports an ETA at a terminal that it's not scheduled to arrive at, or when no terminals report that they are expecting a container, our operations team steps in to handle it. Sometimes, there are issues that are complicated enough that they are best sorted out by a person

We believe a container tracking service should be full service - which is why we do the leg work behind the scenes and then let our system automatically track the containers and provide you with updates. Sign up for a free account today and see how easy it is to track containers on our platform.