The events of the past couple of years have rocked the global supply chain in more ways than one. From staffing shortages to increased ransomware attacks to rising prices to all of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there's no shortage of challenges lately for companies trying to build a reliable supply chain for their products. At the same time as all of these challenges, demand for shipping services remains at an all-time high, and port backlogs across the East Coast and West Coast alike have become commonplace.

While there is certainly much that must be accomplished to create an agile and resilient supply chain during these challenging times, transportation visibility is one essential ingredient — especially the location and condition of shipments. This article explores the vital role of real-time shipment tracking in improving supply chain visibility and resilience and how companies can restructure their supply chains to boost transportation visibility.

What is Transportation Visibility?

Transportation visibility in 2022 is the process of tracking the real-time location and condition of cargo shipments to anticipate delays before they arise, coordinating logistics in a way designed to reduce demurrage and detention fees, and improving the reliability of an organization's supply chain. In the past, a certain degree of transportation visibility was achieved through track-and-trace or passive loggers and check calls. Today, however, these tracking processes are considered inefficient and outdated, replaced instead with real-time supply chain tracking capabilities that allow shippers and customers alike to track the location and status of any shipment in real time from a convenient, centralized platform.

How do Trackers/Real-time Visibility Help?

According to data from IBM Insights with Watson, 87% of Chief Supply Chain Officers surveyed say that it is difficult to predict and proactively manage disruptions. Real-time container tracking, however, is something that makes the process of predicting and responding to supply chain disruptions much more achievable. For instance, if a company determines that a specific product it has shipped may be faulty due to mishandling, BCOs, shippers or freight forwarders can either cancel the affected shipments or take other mitigation steps.

Look no further than the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shipments for a real-world example of how real-time container tracking empowers companies to respond better to supply chain issues and disruptions. Vials of the vaccine must be kept within a range of minus-80 degrees Fahrenheit to minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit during transport. Failure to react when a shipment of vaccine vials falls outside of this acceptable range can result in millions of dollars of product going to waste or, much worse, the loss of human lives. By implementing real-time container tracking solutions, though, stakeholders can monitor the temperature conditions of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments in real-time and quickly respond if a shipment reaches a temperature headed outside of the acceptable range.

These, of course, are just two examples of how real-time visibility can allow companies to bolster both the resilience and agility of their supply chains. The ability to anticipate issues before they arise through real-time container tracking provides far more options for dealing with those issues than a company would otherwise be left with if they had to respond after the fact. The result is a supply chain that is much more agile and adaptable. Meanwhile, by creating a supply chain that by design is as agile and adaptable as possible, companies can boost the reliability of their supply chain during these uncertain times as well.

The Role of the Open Visibility Network to Bring in More Players

One undeniable truth about global supply chain visibility is that it is nearly impossible for a single visibility supplier to provide coverage for all of a customer's needs, especially when those visibility needs encompass multiple modes of transport such as ocean, air, and trucking. This is why Tive — a global leader in real-time supply chain visibility insights — led the creation of the Open Visibility Network (OVN). The Open Visibility Network is an initiative that brings data together from some of the world's top visibility providers via APIs so shippers, customers, and carriers can rapidly expand visibility and access a wealth of valuable insights without needing to add additional applications.

By making transportation visibility more accessible than ever before, Tive and the Open Visibility Network are providing companies across the globe with the tools and services they need to overcome today's supply chain challenges. If you would like to learn more about how Tive can help you create a more agile and resilient supply chain, be sure to contact us today.

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