When Execution Meets Visibility

It’s time to think beyond appointments. 

While improved appointment scheduling for the gate and warehouse is a worthy application of real-time transportation visibility data, estimated time of arrival (ETA) knowledge alone isn’t sufficient to meaningfully improve your operations and their efficiency or reduce operational costs at your facility. Visibility data for appointments and gate-in/gate-out events is certainly useful, but it doesn’t address one of the most challenging dark spots in the supply chain that drives up cost and drains productivity – the activities leading up to the gate appointment. Building reliability, resiliency, and predictability in the supply chain start much further upstream. 

It also started about three years prior to today. In 2019, which feels like a lifetime ago, most nodes in the supply chain, whether the terminal, yard, warehouse, carrier, or maintenance shop, viewed their data as a closely guarded secret. While some data should be under lock and key, such as payment information, keeping operational data close to the vest hindered productivity across the supply chain. A lack of insight into process execution steps within each node meant the downstream player was left guessing when a container or shipment might be ready. Existing in a very delicate balance prior to the pandemic, even the slightest bump had the potential to derail the supply chain. Enter the upheaval produced by the pandemic, the operational dark spots exacerbated these challenges, resulting in unnecessary, stressful friction. 

The silver lining is that the upheaval caused mindsets around sharing operational data to shift, with each node and mode realizing that sharing data connected to execution activities made the process easier for their node, their customers, and their partners. An all-around win-win-win. 

Queue the revolution. 

Now, terminals, shippers, and carriers are not only hungry for operational data, but they’re ready to share what they have, too, understanding the value it creates for everyone involved. 

When execution meets visibility, it improves operations to a degree that translates into significant cost savings. Take, for example, integrating terminals with a distribution center’s yard management system to reduce website scraping and increase shipper visibility. By connecting them through an execution and visibility platform, operational data from the terminal operating system, including availability date/time, last free day, demurrage owed, current locations, time of discharge, gate in and gate out, and vessel visit timestamps all become available in the YMS.

Connecting the YMS with an execution and visibility platform extends the capabilities of a YMS beyond the “four walls” of the yard, pulling in the forward visibility into container/shipment availability outlined above as well as port gate-out to enhance accessorial management, reducing demurrage. It also reduces detention and demurrage charges with finely tuned “free time” management based on operational data from the terminal. For carriers, this application reduces dwell time at the gate and increases velocity through the facility. 

It’s no wonder that text messaging became so popular – the ability to communicate in real-time about what’s happening delivers so many benefits. It’s time that nodes and modes in the supply chain communicated in real-time about operations to experience those same real-world benefits, such as faster gate velocity at the yard through a continuous connection with ports about incoming volume. 

When visibility meets execution, costs go down and efficiency goes up. The supply chain becomes more resilient and reliable, and it produces better results for everyone. That’s thinking beyond “Estimated Time of Arrival.” 

Rene Alvarenga is Director of Product Management for Execution & Visibility at Kaleris. He leads product development for enhancing connectivity between execution nodes in the supply chain, such as marine terminals, shipping lines, inland yards, and distribution centers, so that port operators, shippers, and cargo owners can work together to optimize their operations.