How to perform container tracking?

It’s not an exaggeration to say that container tracking is a necessity – there’s a lot of uncertainty in the shipment process. Companies prepare their shipping containers and pay the shippers to bring them to a specific port, load onto a ship and deliver them to its final destination. But it’s not unusual for some issues to arise when it comes to such a complex matter. For instance, a ship might stop to drop off containers in a port on the way and a container could be accidentally offloaded. The mistake might stay unnoticed until the ship leaves the port and this can easily lead to delays of a few months to get the container on another ship and to its chosen final destination. If the customer is notified of the mistake through the container tracking system, they’ll be able to come up with a plan and deal with the delay. Also the ocean liner companies transporting lots of shipping containers on behalf of various companies want to ensure that the specific cargo is on the ship – which the container tracking system can confirm. The benefits of container tracking systems are numerous but it’s important to first understand the logistics. The process involves four different parties responsible for different things during the shipment.

  1. First party – the company that created goods that need to be transported from one place to another via shipping, they care about container tracking because a delay in shipping their containers can cause major problems to the whole supply chain.
  2. Second party – the shipper or hauler, like CMA CGM or Maersk, they care about container tracking because they’ve been paid to transport the goods and are liable if they fail to do it.
  3. Third party – the “logistic provider” coordinates the shipping process on behalf of the first party by engaging chosen shippers.
  4. Fourth party – an independent body helping the first party organize their supply chain by using services of the logistic providers.

And how exactly does the container tracking work in practice? It’s actually pretty uncomplicated – the tracking device is attached to the exterior of the container. The most common types of devices are GPS-based:

  • Magnetic devices – they fit onto the side of the container, between the structural ribs. 
  • Locking sealing mechanisms – they include a tracking device and are usually added by the first party after the goods are loaded.

What are the benefits of using GPS container tracking? One of the biggest advantage is having many options to choose from. They are also self-contained, these systems don’t require additional infrastructure making the process quite easy. This type of tracking is usually very accurate, although in some situations precision of about 10 meters is the best you can expect. Of course apart from the good sides there are some difficulties with this method. It’s expensive and the GPS requires the device to have a clear view of the sky. If the GPS sensor is on the side of the container in a stack – it’s not possible to send the signal. Another drawback is that it consumes a massive amount of energy which can be very costly. The next problem is that the longer GPS is off, the longer it takes to regain the signal and download the data. Whether you’re interested in maersk container tracking, cma cgm container tracking or cosco container tracking – you can find quite simple solutions to perform it. And after you choose your preferable type of the tracking device – there are plenty of sites allowing you to track the container, you can find three of them here: