These past years, with the boom of international trade, the global ocean freight market has significantly increased. 66 million TEUs are forecasted in 2022. It serves as the backbone of the global supply chain industry, since about 80 percent of all goods are carried by sea. Technology is largely contributing to their leading position above independent actors. API connection, in particular, are a disruptive turning point in industry shift to digitalization, reports gcaptain.
Building powerful and flexible information systems
Acronym of “application programming interface”, an API connects data from various sources to one centralized decision-making center. Based on a two-way data transmission, this tool acts as a bridge between several information systems, including their respective software, databases and devices for steady and seamless communication.
With APIs, any company is able to link its own applications to its partners’, and make them widely available to users over the internet or via dedicated mobile apps. Thanks to this interface, humans can get the information or access the functionalities they need on a single and simple interface.
The use of APIs has namely vastly improved services such as vessel and container tracking, in the context of a growing demand for real-time visibility on shipment expedition and status. In this case, a carrier or forwarder may call the APIs of several transportation companies, requesting status updates or cargo movement to centralize this information and enhance customer service.
Besides, thanks to APIs, developers do not have to start from scratch to create new programs. Not only does this tool facilitate the programming process, but it eases the integration of business applications. This hastens the release and deployment of innovative solutions with minimum resources.
How has API technology changed the ocean freight landscape
Millions of containers are moving every year from/to every corner of the globe, along with break bulk cargoes, and wheeled equipment, etc. Along the shipping lifecycle, a huge number of stakeholders coming from various fields have to cooperate on a daily basis. Shipping lines and vessels’ crew, shipping agencies, freight forwarders, 3PL companies and logistics providers, port operators, customs authorities, inland transportation providers, warehouses teams, manufacturers or sellers, and Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCOs)…
Communication and coordination of the great variety of operations to be performed require appropriate tools. And information is the cornerstone of this digital network. APIs are vital elements to rapidly gather exhaustive, up-to-date and accurate data, minimize human intervention in their core and side activities.
In order to respond to a booming demand, technology providers and digital first industry stakeholders have emerged and are quickly multiplying. They provide solutions that take the ocean freight’s industry specificities into account. By doing so, they help its players to become more agile, improve their efficiency, and seize unexpected opportunities that boost their business growth.
APIs work in the background to complete a variety of tasks, from the simplest to the most complex ones, in much shorter time. Hence, they help to enable automation of processes, streamline and synchronize processes, and improve end-to-end visibility.
Quick and seamless digital transformation and enhancement
These past years, new technologies, especially Artificial intelligence has successfully revolutionized the nature of shipping business for the better by predicting and providing solutions to the problems faced by the players in this industry.
Using dedicated APIs has accelerated the industry giants’ digital transformation, taking them far ahead of competitors. While most independent stakeholders still rely on paperwork, basic EDIs for information exchange and disparate tools for different activities, the largest companies in shipping and related areas harness the full potential of new information technologies to work smarter.
With APIs, they are able to share information and functionalities in real-time across the whole supply chain. CRM, ERP, automated tracking systems bring significant benefits: 360-degree visibility, enhanced operational efficiency, reduced costs, mitigated risk, increase transparency and a higher level of service for their customers without overloading their team.
Integrating environmental monitoring within existing systems
To enhance their efficiency and competitiveness, the ocean freight industry stakeholders will move further into digitalization. Immediate access to valuable insights and state-of-the-art tools will support relevant decision-making and efficiently manage their business, all through their internal system.
Part of these decisions are pertaining to environmental concerns, as fighting against pollution is a top priority for the sea shipping sector. APIs enable companies assess their carbon footprint and access Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) analytics to power sustainability initiatives and climate action: route planning optimization, transition to cleaner sources of energy, better port operations planning and management, adaptation of projects in order to protect the marine and coastal ecosystem.
Most Popular APIs used in Ocean Freight
- CO2 and Noise Emissions Monitoring APIs: With the enforcement of CII regulation coming in January 2023 and the IMO paying close attention to the noise emissions of ships at large and more specifically in sensible areas, environmental monitoring technology has progressed considerably. Shipowners and ship managers show more and more interest in these topics as sustainability becomes the heart of regulatory focus as well as a competitive factor.
Integrating the estimation of noise and carbon emissions as part of route planning systems is the latest trend in ocean freight.
- ETA and Port Congestion APIs: Estimated Time Arrival of vessels and goods at port are a critical part of multimodal logistics and supply chain operations. With the considerable growth of maritime traffic, major seaports are struggling with Port Congestion which strongly impacts ETA precision and can trigger delivery setbacks.
While AIS and GPS data constitute a real-time indicator of vessel and cargo movement, technology such as machine learning has emerged as a valuable enhancement for track and trace solutions, providing reliable predictions, helping ports and shipping agents to optimize port calls.
- Vessel & Cargo Movement APIs: These services used in Ocean Freight allow the precise tracking of vessel and container movement which is widely relevant to customer service activities such as shipment tracking in freight forwarding, fleet performance assessment for carriers, and even compliance analysis for inspectors.
Among popular providers, freight forwarders themselves provide API gateways to their shipment status to their clients. Carriers make their schedules available to their clients via API as well.
However, freight forwarder and carriers make this data available to their clients, some tech providers have built their business in centralizing all of this data and offer data not only limited to one forwarder or carrier but for vessels and containers worldwide.
- Weather and Ocean Conditions API:By layering weather and meteocean datasets on top of route planning systems, carriers can accurately assess real-time weather conditions on the route and make the optimal route planning decision based on swell, current and wind force.
This data can also be useful for incident analysis and security protocols, helping stakeholders decide whether the chosen route was the right one or if everything had been done according to protocol.
Service providers such as Sinay offer a large variety of secure APIs available off the shelf, including special discovery offers and free trials, allowing all integrators to build and enhance any information system.
In a massive industry, the race for profit can only be won by exploiting information and data resources which is permitted by API. The paradigm shifts towards sustainability that the industry must go through follows the same trends. We can safely say that APIs are truly the future of a constantly changing and expanding sea shipping market.
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