Navigating the Black Hole of Port and Terminal Data

March 29, 2019

 When it comes to managing your inbound logistics, getting your arms around all of the variables involved in tracking your cargo can often be a Herculean task. You may know the ATA of the vessel carrying your shipment and the terminal where it will dock, but that may be where a solid line of information stops. When will the cargo be ready for pickup? What kind of delays could you be up against? What kind of extra fees can you expect? This visibility gap in the supply chain is frequently referred to as the “black hole” of port and terminal data.


You may have been told by a 3PL, freight forwarder or trucking company that your cargo will arrive a certain day, but delays happen often, and shippers aren’t usually alerted to them. It will take precious time for you to sift through all the usual information sources (emails, spreadsheets, phone calls, etc.) to find out what you need to know about your incoming shipment. And by then, it may be too late. So, how do you navigate this black hole and reliably access current cargo information? The answer lies in technology platforms that can allow better collaboration and data flow between all the stakeholders.

Shining a Light on the Black Hole of Landside Logistics


Victory over the black hole is achieved through better visibility for everyone, including BCOs, 3PLs and motor carriers. Success comes from reducing the complexity of landside logistics. What is the ETA of the vessel? Is the cargo ready for pickup? What is the truck and driver availability? How congested is the port at a particular hour? What fees are due? If an appointment is needed, has it been scheduled? The goal is to streamline this complex framework through increased transparency throughout the container flow. All stakeholders can benefit when there is one trusted place where everyone involved in a shipping transaction can find the information they need.

How To Take Control of Your Container Data

By leveraging more connected, collaborative technology, stakeholders can gain control over the variables. Digital platforms and open APIs provide BCOs and major trucking companies with direct system-to-system data connectivity for comprehensive visibility and the most accurate, up-to-date information available. This means all parties involved with each shipment can update and interact with each other through a single, digital window. What’s more? Shippers and truckers are able to integrate data feeds directly into their transportation management system (TMS) or dispatch systems, so they no longer need to go on the hunt for data. Some of the visibility that can be provided includes:

  • Container status and availability

  • Export/booking arrangements

  • Vessel schedules, notifications and reports

  • Fees

  • Motor carrier, truck and driver information

  • Live congestion information and queues

  • On-time performance metrics

The right execution platform for shippers or BCOs, their agents and truckers can provide benefits such as automated status updates, the ability to reserve chassis and depot services, end-to-end tracking and metrics of all cargo from port to door, plus automatic billing and fee payment capabilities.

Which Platform Is Best?


Through Advent’s comprehensive API service, eModal Data Services (EDS), shippers can successfully navigate the black hole of port and terminal data to answer the question, “Where is my cargo?” Advent is uniquely positioned to deliver first-party data visibility thanks to the widespread adoption of their software platforms in more than 70% of North American ports and terminals.

Learn more about how you can beat the black hole by watching this short, 15-minute free webinar “Visibility & Control of Landside Logistics” from Advent’s Chief Strategy Officer, Allen Thomas.


stefanie gesiorski

Written by stefanie gesiorski

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