Photo: Hapag-LLoyd

Updating a previous estimate, Drewry now says that by 2027, almost one-third of all containers will be equipped with telematics hardware.

A container becomes “smart” with the addition of a telematics device, enabling real-time tracking and monitoring, which boosts operational efficiency, equipment availability and supply chain control.

Last year, Drewry reckoned 25% of containers would be equipped with a tracking and telemetry device by 2026. However, by the end of last year, the number of telematic containers had shot up, by 57%, to 5.6% of boxes globally.

Prevalent in reefer trades, but with historically few examples on dry containers, this number will increase six-fold over the next five years, Drewry now says, to more than 10 million.

Drewry director and head of research products Martin Dixon told The Loadstar: “Until last year we took a fairly cautious view of adoption of these sensors. But I think it’s the effect of the first mover on competing carriers… it will force others to follow in order to keep up.”

Mr Dixon said a more transparent maritime supply chain would engender greater confidence in maritime supply chains, offering “better predictability, better planning and could ultimately allow [BCOs] to manage or lessen inventory”, adding there is every chance the greater transparency would trigger a modal shift toward shipping, in the face of alternatives.

Stefan Kalmund, Nexxiot CEO, told The Loadstar: “Asset and cargo visibility offers considerable competitive advantages to carriers and shippers… we have seen our clients win higher-value business due to the digital services they now offer.”

The anticipated surge is driven by technological innovations that lower device costs and enhance their value for transport operators and BCOs. The dry container fleet is expected to witness substantial uptake, as carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd and ONE have committed to equipping their entire dry fleets with smart devices, and lead the way for others to follow.

Mr Dixon said: “I think the pandemic clearly highlighted the vulnerability of extended supply chains. We’re already seeing instances of strike action at key maritime gateways. You also have increasingly erratic climatic conditions that could disrupt shipping. That [vulnerability] will continue to spur investment in improving visibility across the shipping supply chain.”

And Nexxiot anticipates a faster uptake even than that anticipated by Drewry, said Mr Kalmund.

“Location tracking is fast becoming a standard, so the use of sensors for cargo monitoring, to ensure cargo compliance and safety, is next in focus,” he said. “Shippers will select carriers that can meet their data needs.”

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