Home Cargo “Smart” Containers will commence a New Era of Cargo Transportation by Sea

“Smart” Containers will commence a New Era of Cargo Transportation by Sea

by Rolands Petersons
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The wave of technological modernization has affected transportation containers by transforming them from standard containers into “smart” ones.

This revolution in the field of transportation means many advantages by removing different bureaucratic burdens at customs and by protecting the security of goods to be transported.

Although during the COVID-19 crisis there are some declines in cargo transportation, the transport business is expected to gradually recover. Once it recovers, all ongoing processes will continue with a vengeance. Our Holding, same as BIMCO (BIMCO is the largest of the international shipping associations representing shipowners), conducts regular market and risk analysis based on the most recent data available.

“The global XSI® declined by 0.5% in Mar-20 to 115.09 points having increased for the previous four months. Despite the fall, the benchmark remains up 5.8% year-on-year and has risen by 2.2% since the end of 2019”. The monthly containership report discusses recent containership freight rate movements and market developments. This allows us to look at the situation hopefully.

As we know most of the world’s logistics and supply chain constitute transportation containers. Millions of transportation containers are used for the transportation of important goods and supply of food overseas all over the world. It is estimated that 20 millions of ship containers annually transport goods all over the world in the amount of 4 trillion dollars, which constitutes 90% of global trade. The research shows that in one transportation transaction there are, on average, 28 different units involved, including ports, operators and customs agencies.
Tracking down of the goods to be transported in ship containers is the main priority of all shipping companies working all over the world. Tracking down and surveillance of a container helps to obtain a real-time scenario that enables companies to take better decision with regard the supply chains.

What is a “Smart” Container?

Nowadays containers serve not only for moving goods, but also provide information that considerably helps to all shipping and international logistics sector. There is no doubt – the impulse of the new digital era should be used to look for the answers to the most important questions of all ages: what happens to containers following their loading into ships, until they again arrive at a port…

The “smart” container is equipped with a complex ecosystem device that enables not only to track down the location of container, but also provides all necessary information on the container. The container sensors monitor several parameters, for example, pressure, light and humidity that might cause damage to the cargo situated in the container. There are also movement and door sensors in operation in order to track down, where and when the container was opened and closed. GPS monitors precise location of the container. Besides, continuous surveillance of containers enables ports to plan incoming shipments, storage and further distribution better. It is excellent that operators, forwarding agents and clients who have used to Internet and the “immediate” principle offered by new technologies can link their cargos to a laptop computer, a tablet or a phone.

Every “smart” container is labelled with a unique barcode, in order to scan the container, when entering the docking station and departing from it. The smart sensors react to insignificant changes in relation to environment in the container and promptly inform or send the alarm signal to the central remote surveillance institution, which is far away from the “smart” container, therefore the problem could be diagnosed remotely and it is possible to react quickly.

The data obtained on every container might provide customs with additional information in order to facilitate the increase of the speed of customs procedure. This all-in-all helps to improve considerably the transport management in the world and to improve the logistics of cargos transported by sea, because most of the incorrectly directed or lost containers could be found easily.

Spreading of “Smart” Containers is a Matter of Time

Clever or “smart” containers take over the transportation by sea. It was a matter of time, before the maritime sector exceeded the automation of day-to-day work process or carried out digitalization at offices, ports and terminals. Therefore it is clear that changes had to take place sooner or later. Already now the experts estimate that within three years 1.5-10% of world’s container fleet will be equipped as “smart” containers. Others find that the number of “smart” containers will triple by 2023, exceeding more than 2 million units that constitute approximately 6.5% of world’s stocks of boxes.
The more “smart” containers, the cheaper will be the devices to be installed in them, and the value of cargo to be transported will increase even more.

The transportation crisis caused by COVID-19 has clearly shown that such smart containers are indispensable and very necessary for carriers to be able to understand exactly where your cargo was left at sea, in which area it was ‘stuck’, in which port the cargo was unloaded temporarily, etc.

The issues that shall be still dealt with and improved by specialists are the increase of the operating time of the battery of smart devices, the maximum simplicity of the installation of device, the re-use of devise, an opportunity to transmit even faster the data generated by sensors through satellite or internet network, as well as the simplified summarization and storage of monitored data.
Any crisis requires an analysis of what has been done or developed so far, as well as of the ways to improve the existing situation. I assume that in the field of smart containers, too, many improvements and additions will soon bring a much more complete result.

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

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