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Software for Sea Shipment Tracking

  • Rating — 5 (5 votes)
  • by Anna - Technology Author and Strategist
  • Updated on March 26, 2021
  • Read —
    16-17 minutes

Maritime transportation of goods has been for a long time and still is a well-known and dominant industry that is a major influence on the global trade market. In fact, numerous valuable discoveries were made because professional seafarers and enthusiastic adventurers tried to find new sea trade routes. 

Many years passed, numerous sea routes were discovered, and now we all benefit from trading possibilities that the sea shipment industry offers. And while goods manufacturers and buyers prosper, the companies responsible for sea shipment struggle with so many challenges. The world is incredibly technological now, and yet there are still not enough advanced solutions for tracking shipments. 

This fact greatly concerns us as we advocate digitalization of all business industries, especially the ones that are dealing with supply chain and logistics. So we have done our own research of existing ship tracking software in order to identify their  real value, their unique challenges that require special attention, as well as thinking about ways of coming up with an optimal  targeted customizable approach to providing these solutions. 

So, without further ado, let’s proceed to this topic and discover the true power of ship tracking systems and their must-have functionality.

What are the common challenges of sea shipment? 

Sea shipment business has always struggled with numerous challenges, because it deals with a lot of documentation. And let’s not forget that there are many people involved in the working process, and there are always so many risks involved that require special attention. Last year everything became even more complicated, since the COVID-19 outbreak turned the whole world upside down. 

Although sea shipping continued operating, it faced a new reality full of complications and uncertainties. For example, during the pandemic, there were instances where companies made decisions not to dock their ships for crew rotation due to COVID outbreaks on the ships as a lot was still unknown about the virus, which breed panic and disarray on top of the actual disease. In other words, as you may know, there was a lot of chaos in the world and it did not pass by the shipping industry either.

When it comes to this particular example, the crew members had to continue their shifts on board, extending their time in sea, often indefinitely, due to restrictions set by ports. On top of that, a lot of the sailors had to put up with that while also experiencing often crippling COVID symptoms.

According to Safety4sea last year, 92 crew changes were denied because of the pandemic. The world economy has also changed last year, which in turn influenced the shipping industry and led to a 25% fall in the overall shipping traffic.

Safety4sea

Demand for big, durable and expensive goods (such as cars or specific equipment) transported by sea declined, so now the main goal of all sea shipping companies is to maintain the loyalty of their clients and take good care of every new transportation order. And it is impossible to do this if there are productivity challenges or outdated software. 

But before we proceed to reviewing the best solutions to support sea shipment, let’s take a closer look at typical issues and inefficiencies that can hamstring this industry and that the shipping industry is riddled with and can render businesses ineffective:


Lack of shipment visibility
many companies do not have reliable systems for tracking and showing the exact whereabouts of a ship loaded with goods. This may influence customer satisfaction and lead to ineffective cooperation with partner networks. Your partners and customers expect nothing less than to get real-time information about their orders 24/7. No wonder, since we all live in a highly technological, digitalized, 21st century world.
Too much paperwork
shipping documents are extremely valuable and they include purchase orders, commercial invoices, bills of lading, insurance papers, export packing lists, and many more. All these documents must be provided by a  shipping carrier. But is there a real need to spend a lot of time, money, paper resources on printing them and then dragging a huge folder full of papers across the world? We think that this isn’t necessary since there are safe systems for electronic document transfer and distribution. Moreover, there now exist digital signatures and electronic seals that have become widely used in everyday life (think Docusign or Adobe).
Human errors
unfortunately, some companies still collect the data manually and keep it in Excel tables or Google Sheets. As a result, there can be issues with order information and shipment dates flow; and there are better ways of maintaining and updating this information. Moreover, the information collected manually and stored in different places cannot be properly analyzed and used.
Lack of invoice audit
some shipping carriers tend to underestimate the power of in-depth audit. Shipping invoices can be full of obvious errors and of course you can identify them without any complex software (although it can take a long time to do this). However, it is not so easy to detect major billing errors (namely – charges for address corrections, surcharges, tariff discrepancies, etc.) and make sure that everything is thoroughly scrutinized and every overcharge is taken care of. This is exactly why every shipping company needs an AI-powered audit system. Such solutions can also detect service failures and SLA (Service Level Agreement) violations if there are any.
High operating costs
it may seem like you can’t influence this aspect and reduce costs, however, that’s not the case. In fact, some companies pay more because of delayed shipments, misrouted, damaged or stolen goods. And this can be easily resolved if you start using smart shipment trackers with sensors that can record all necessary data and send it right to your computer or mobile device. Once you’ve received that info, you are able to address routing issues and deal with the delays.
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What solutions can help all shipping carriers? 

These five issues named by us above can be easily troubleshooted if shipping carriers initiate digital transformation and integrate solutions that they lack at the moment. Now it is the right time to automate working processes and operations to the fullest. 

To demonstrate the real abilities of software, we have researched the market and selected the most effective ship tracking systems. Let’s proceed to their review that will help us identify must-have features, and point out what’s so great about digitalization. 

SeaRates 

This package tracking solution is well-known among numerous companies all over the world. It lets you track all current shipments and keep information about them in one place. You just enter the container number and see its location in real-time on the map. 

If you need to track several shipments, then you can create folders and set categories for them. The navigation and tracking of each container is very easy. SeaRates is perfect for both – shipping carriers and customers. It lets you handle all necessary documentation, generate shipment codes for clients, and if you explore SeaRates website you’ll find even more tools:

  • real-time freight calculator;
  • load calculator;
  • finder of sea routes and shipping lines;
  • international route planning system;
  • calculator of goods transportation price.

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Our experience
Shipment tracking solutions can’t function without a reliable calculator widget that lets you quickly insert the data and see all details. Such widgets are able to improve shipment visibility, client service and customer support. Our team has experience in developing calculator widgets for different industries and kinds of solutions. So if you lack one, don’t hesitate and get in touch with us. We’ll help you develop one in no time!

SeaRates is a paid solution with 2 plans – Premium and Basic one. The first one will let you track an unlimited number of containers for $59 per month, while with the latter, you’ll be able to track up to 100 containers for $39 per month. SeaRates uses AIS (Automatic Identification System) to locate ships and exchange the data digitally. The results are very accurate. If you want to take a closer look at how the SeaRates solution works, then check out the video in which they explain how you can use it to track packages.

The SeaRates software addresses major challenges previously named by us. It improves shipment visibility, reduces paperwork and operational costs, and let’s shipment carriers improve client service by providing special codes for tracking the transported packages. What it really lacks is at least one feature for auditing shipping invoices.

Kizy Shipment Tracking

Kizy is an innovative solution that brings shipment tracking to a whole new level and makes the supply chain very transparent. What’s so great about this software? It works equally perfect both indoors and outdoors and lets you track containers or goods stored in warehouses. 

Kizy offers not only a digital solution but also smart devices for more precise tracking options. You can order a test kit and test everything for up to 3 months and then decide if the solution and trackers meet your needs. Here is how Kizy tracker looks like and what features it offers: 

container tracker

Image source: Kizy

So here is what you do – you order a test kit, get access to Kizy software and 4 such trackers.Then you activate the tracker using QR code, place it in a container and start monitoring it in real-time. The tracker will provide you with information about the exact container location that will be displayed on a Kizy software dashboard. The solution is available for both desktops and mobile devices which makes it even more convenient and user-friendly. 

Kizy container trackers use IoT technology, geolocation option and have sensors that track temperature inside the container and whether the doors are closed/open. The collected data helps logistics companies to discover the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) and possible delays, find out whether something happened to a container and the goods may be damaged, and they can also get prepared for further goods transportation. 

Kizy trackers can be easily reused as many times as you need. You just organize their return via IBRS (International Business Response Service). If you explore Kizy’s website you’ll find some success stories about how these trackers and software have helped real companies. 

Kizy platform is an online and cloud-based one, which makes it incredibly fast and very safe. On top of that, the solution is customizable and has an open API that lets you integrate tracking data into your own existing systems or solutions. 

AuditShipment

The solutions mentioned above are great, but unfortunately they don’t help to overcome one crucial challenge from our list, which is holistic invoice and billing audit. And that’s exactly why we include AuditShipment in our collection of must-have solutions for shipment companies. 

AuditShipment is AI-based and able to identify over 50 carriers errors in your documentation at once. The providers use SSL for reliable data encryption and most operations in the software are automated. So no manual data entry is required. This reduces chances of human errors and inconsistencies in documents. 

This solution can analyze huge troves of data and make that analysis meaningful for the shipment company. So you can look through it and make data-driven decisions regarding necessary improvements. 

software for invoices audit

Image source: AuditShipment

AuditShipment offers more than just an audit. Here are some interesting features you can make use of:

  • automated package tracking solution;
  • instant package delivery notifications;
  • real-time tracking widget for customers;
  • lost shipment reporting in one click;
  • monitoring of current shipment rates;
  • reporting and analytics. 

You can select one of the subscription plans that the providers offer. It can be Basic or Premium one. The Basic plan lets you benefit from all key options, while premium one offers some additional functionality like API & Webhook integration, integration with e-commerce platforms, FTP connect, GDPR compliance, etc. 

Now that you know about the most useful features, technologies that it is better to use (AI, IoT, smart widgets), we’d like to discuss one more crucial question. Should you splurge on ready-made solutions or invest in developing your own one? So, without further ado, let’s unpack this important question. 

Custom-developed or ready-made system? 

At first sight, the use of ready-made solutions may seem too tempting and advantageous to pass up on. After all, minimum activity or effort is required from your company. Seemingly, you just need to research the market, select a tracking system that aligns with and meets your needs, and begin using it. However,  using ready-made solutions can be quite tricky in practice and the decision might not be so obvious. 

This is because, first of all, you need to make monthly or yearly payments. The cost may seem insignificant on a cursory basis, but the reality is that if you forget to pay on time, your employees and clients may be unable to track their packages or use other crucial functionality. It seems like a minor issue at first glance, but believe us, even a couple of hours offline, without necessary software may lead to many issues and numerous client inquiries, comaints, or even loss of clients, and nobody wants that to happen. 

Second of all, you depend on the provider whose system you are using. If the provider decides to change some functionality or policies, removing some options or tools, you will not be able to have a say or do anything about it except switch systems again. 

One more reason to think twice before settling up with any of the tracking systems is your business model and needs. Not all solutions can offer you the exact feature set that you need. So maybe you’ll even end up using 2 different solutions simultaneously. For example – one for effective shipment tracking, one for smart audit, or else. And this, of course, will double the costs you intended to spend on the solution. 

Do you use any ready-made shipment tracking system in your company?

Yes, we cannot deny that modern container tracking systems are diverse and feature-rich. You may even use one of them at the moment. But are they good enough for you? Or you feel that software could have boosted your productivity even more if it had certain functionality? 

In any case, custom development is an investment in the future of your business and its value. You pay for the development once, and get a solution that will last you for years and will not fail you at the most important moment. 

There are so many APIs on the market that make the development even more affordable and fast. On top of that, you may even develop a shipment tracking solution and enter the market offering it to other maritime transportation companies. SaaS is a huge trend right now that you can make use of and make it a source of your additional income. 

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Related post
GBKSOFT has extensive experience integrating shipment APIs into business systems. So we are aware of all possible pitfalls and how to deal with them. You can read our blog post dedicated to APIs here and discover what they offer.

Experts from Deloitte have conducted research to find out what can make the shipment process smarter and what solutions companies need to consider buying or developing. It turns out that IoT can reshape the transportation industry, enhancing logistics companies, and making the customer experience more pleasant and better overall. The Deloitte report names 3 kinds of IoT solutions that need to be called upon: 

  • systems for package environment monitoring (measuring and displaying indicators such as temperature inside the container or package, etc);
  • tools for threat detection and prevention (they help to identify if the container was opened to flag and spot an attempt of theft);
  • real-time tracking systems (for detecting not only ship and container, but also individual package location).

What recommendations provided by Deloitte experts can be highlighted? First of all, they advise companies to ship smarter, not harder. Second of all, they recommend building your own solution that will be focused on your key business parameters and will offer embedded data analytics capabilities. 

Are you satisfied with your shipment tracking solutions?

How GBKSOFT can help you 

If you analyzed your current situation and understood that your shipment company can do better with modern software, then it is high time to take action. The first thing you should do is perform holistic investigation to determine which systems can be added and integrated with your existing software setup. This research requires some time and effort, and of course knowledge and understanding of technologies, and how they can be used to your advantage. 

Our company can help you proceed with that pre-development research, discover all the unknowns, find out what practices and solutions your competitors use. We will take into account all your business needs and challenges, and offer the solutions and feature set that will be a perfect fit for your company. 

GBKSOFT can build a web and mobile solution for sea shipment tracking utilizing high technologies like AI and IoT, implement advanced analytics and reporting, make it GDPR compliant and totally secure. What’s more important is that we can take care of integrating your new solution into your current business environment, and make it function cohesively with other systems. 

Chances are, you are already using a system for shipment tracking but not totally satisfied with it. Maybe it is good but still lacks some functionality that can be added thanks to API integration. We have software engineers that can do the job for you. The integration will go seamless and your solution will become highly functioning. 

We can also help you to review and modernize software that is used by your company now. Sometimes you don’t need to develop a system from scratch, it is enough to do a code review, spice up the solution with the latest technologies and make it work to the fullest. 

Although we spoke in detail about sea shipment in this post, we’d like to emphasize that many companies in the supply chain business need such a solution. Logistics, e-commerce and even air shipment companies need software that will track package location and condition. Such software helps minimize lots of unwanted risks, keep all documentation in one place and in electronic format, and predict possible shipment delays.
It is hard to provide the exact timeline, because tracking systems can be of different complexities and feature sets. But speaking in general, it should take on average about 4-8 months to build such a solution, release it and integrate it with your existing ones. But keep in mind that if you need both a web and mobile application, the development process can take a bit longer.

To wrap it up 

The pandemic and economic crisis that it brought about keep posing numerous challenges to businesses in various industries, and the transportation industry is among those that have been hit the hardest. 

Clients expect to get their packages shipped in time and in the best condition, and they also appreciate shipment visibility, instead, they have been hit with delays in the delivery system and notoriously mired with problems like lack of status updates on their packages. It is then a no-brainer that a reliable shipment tracking software is a must-have that is able to help you satisfy your demanding clients and cooperate effectively with partner networks.

Nothing is impossible with the high technologies now. In less than 6 month your company may become equipped with a feature-rich custom-developed shipment tracking system able to:

– monitor package transportation and container environment;
– detect and prevent thefts;
– show exact location of packages;
– perform audit and advanced analysis. 

Reduce the time spent on routine operations, minimize errors, improve visibility of shipments, and see your business prosper and grow.

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Anna - Technology Author and Strategist I am mainly focused on enterprise mobility (Apple, Android), and digital transformation, highly curious about all emerging tech trends, always pay close attention to crucial details and try to find answers to a lot of questions before writing about something.
Alexandra Rostovtseva Being a proficient leader with over 10 years of experience in Project and Product Management, Business Development and Sales, I have strong skills in Negotiations, Crisis, Client and Risk management. Being an outstanding communicator I’m also a good mentor and leader in the tech industry. Experience and expertise are the key foundations in my ability to provide deep insights into the industry and as result I’ve also been published or was a contributor to several tech and business articles.

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