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‘Where’s my container?’ Now you know

[ May 4, 2018   //   ]

Port operator and global trade enabler DP World unveiled an upgraded version of its “Where’s my container?” cargo tracking tool to provide more supply chain visibility. It will now offer advanced tracking for users of DP World’s London Gateway and Southampton ports.

“Where’s my container?” (WMC) was first launched in 2012 in response to the lack of visibility of cargo as it navigates supply chains. Combining an easy-to-use visual interface with a range of new features, it will provide cargo owners, freight forwarders and supply chain partners with better real-time information on the progress of cargo. Features include estimated discharge times once a vessel is in-bound to the port, through to notification by SMS or email when the container is ready to book for collection coupled with historical information that keeps a record of a container’s journey.

The tool includes all the same functionality users have come to rely on from DP World which was the first business to give them information about their cargo as it moved through its UK ports. The new upgrade will give customers access to information about containers’ status at either DP World London Gateway or Southampton in one central place. It allows searches of multiple containers at a time and will help enable more accurate coordination of haulage and prioritisation of containers for distribution centres.  While enabling better forward planning and the ability to adapt quickly to disruption or changing customer demands.

The provision of historical data also provides for more accurate auditing, allowing firms to have 360 degree visibility of cargo transit to provide financial clarity at every stage of the port supply chain. Push notifications will also enable real-time decision making, helping users to react quickly to potential business challenges.

DP World chief executive officer, Chris Lewis, said: “Traditionally, it’s been difficult to track cargo movements in ports which affects the ability to adapt plans that really impact the bottom line for business. That’s why we introduced “Where’s my container?” so they could make informed business decisions that drive profitability. This new enhanced tool will enable users to boost their competitiveness through increased operational efficiency; and some of those already using the original version have been able to reduce their in-land distribution windows by up to two days – a significant cost saving. As the shipping industry becomes increasingly digitised and organisations continue to look for new ways to use data to boost their bottom line, we plan to remain dynamic by evolving this service in-line with this fast-changing industry.”

The new Where’s my container? single portal is available now. It is a dedicated new web platform for users of both London Gateway and Southampton. If users of the tool have containers coming through both ports ,they can track and trace those containers on one portal.

Extra features and improved functionality will include email or SMS push notifications on more statuses of containers that customers choose. This will provide even greater visibility on containers with more milestones and access to crucial historical data.

Future enhancements could include direct interface and link up between DP World and customer systems.

Lewis added that the new software had already led to gains in planning and recovery from disruption and had helped reduce inland distribution times by up to two days. It had cut truck dwell times at DP World’s UK ports to around 35 minutes, he told a presentation at Multimodal.

WMC had a different function to the existing port community systems, he added. While the latter are essentially an interface between the port, shipping lines and forwarders, it would give a much better picture of actual landside operations in real time. It also fitted well with DP World’s plans to expand into areas such as logistics.

In an interview with FBJ, Lewis added: “We had a pilot release of WMC in Southampton in 2012 and another about two years later at London Gateway and we were amazed by the response. People really do want to know when things happen to their containers.”

Phase two of the software will let them know when, for instance, the ship arrives, when it is discharged, when containers are available for collection or when the haulier has left the port.

It could even facilitate so called ‘hot box’ services whereby certain containers are given priority unloading. Lewis said: “This is one difference between the new system and a port community system, because it is an interface with the shipper – and it’s the shipper that knows which of its boxes are urgent, to tell out customer services team which ones to prioritise.”

Phase three of WMC would also introduce an element of artificial intelligence to the process, allowing the system to build up historical data and improve efficiency in future.

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