APM Terminals (APMT) has introduced application programming interface (API) accessibility, allowing data to be transmitted in seconds from terminal operating systems (TOS) directly to customers’ transport management or logistics systems.
Once a customer queries a container or multiple containers, they should instantly receive the latest status of the container.
David Francis, APMT head of digital customer solutions, said: “We have co-developed our APIs with customers looking for real-time data to give them better visibility at the container terminal level.
“By creating better integration with our data through APIs we can improve decision-making for our customers and remove supply chain inefficiencies, which are costing the industry billions each year.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, cargo visibility issues have been exacerbated, partly due to transport and travel restrictions, reduced capacity and additional import/export controls, while demand patterns changed overnight as employees began working remotely.
Francis added: “Never before, has speed and visibility been so key for improving the flow of goods and managing expectations.”
The terminal operator noted that currently, logistics companies spend significant time calling or emailing for cargo status updates. This has increased in recent months due to critical cargo for medical support and delays caused by reduced staffing.
This current approach is “inefficient in terms of human capital” and can also lead to error and delays according to the company based in the Hague.
While larger logistics companies may rely on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the associated packaging and sending of data can sometimes result in data being outdated by several hours, resulting in supply chain partners making decisions using incorrect information, added APMT.
Hence, the operator believes that APIs are the ideal solution for shipping lines, inland transporters, cargo owners and managers, and data aggregators which process higher volumes.
Initially, APMT is making APIs available to track import availability at container level, including container data, estimated time of arrival and date of discharge from the vessel, the status of the container, any holds on the container, and whether a truck appointment has been made.
The company is also offering an API to track vessel schedules in real-time, including estimated arrival and departure times, and cut-off times for delivering a variety of container types.
The first locations to support the import availability and vessel schedule APIs are the operator’s facilities at Pier 400 Los Angeles, Port Elizabeth and Mobile, Alabama. By the end of the year, 15 more terminals will be added.
Customers will initially be able to try the APIs with a 90-day free trial, while there are plans to broaden the API offering later in the year with the potential for more advanced ‘intelligent’ solutions.