A year in review for ORBCOMM maritime: Moving the dial for digital innovation 

At the end of another year of technological innovation for container shipping, Lina Paerez, SVP of Global Marketing, reflects on 2023 and looks ahead to 2024.   

2023 has been an eventful one for the shipping industry. Despite global conflicts, geopolitical tension, economic uncertainty and supply chain challenges, container shipping lines have continued to deliver vital goods around the world. However, inflationary pressure, consumer behavior and a desire to increase business resilience by diversifying supply markets is prompting maritime leaders to make operational changes. IoT technology can play a key role in refining business models in the face of new challenges and ever-changing market conditions. 

As part of this evolution, shipowners and operators are looking to digitalization for help. ORBCOMM’s solutions are supporting maritime businesses as they navigate a challenging operating environment, and we will continue to help customers streamline their operations and make them more resilient.  

The past twelve months for ORBCOMM have been notable for many reasons. Our new dry container solution won an IoT Product of the Year award in March and launched commercially in October. We also enjoyed meeting, building key relationships and sharing industry experiences with customers and prospects around the world during trade shows, webinars and conferences. 

Enhancing the visibility and security of the dry container chain 

Image of an ORBCOMM CT 1000 dry container tracking device

Building on our legacy of cold chain monitoring, we are proud to have launched our dry container management solution, anchored by the CT 1000 telematics device, at the Intermodal Europe conference in October. ORBCOMM’s dry container solution delivers the visibility needed for the modern supply chain. It’s designed to overcome some of the market’s thorniest operating challenges, such as tracking the location of assets and cargo, ensuring cargo integrity and reducing supply chain inefficiencies.

While scalability can be a major stumbling block for introducing fleet-wide dry container monitoring, our solution flips the script by providing unprecedented transparency, peace of mind and untapped commercial opportunities, wrapped into one cost-effective intuitive package. 

Industry recognition and successful roll-out  

Back in March, we were excited to hear that our dry solution was recognized by IoT Evolution World magazine and selected as a winner of the 2023 Industrial IoT Product of the Year Award, just a few months after it was installed on operational containers. The industry recognition was appreciated, as it rewarded the research, development and testing we put into our dry container solution. With further innovations in the pipeline, we look forward to working with shipping lines and their customers to continue digitilizing maritime operations. 

Customers hapag lloyd

Recognition is great, but successful fleet operations are what matters most. In April, four months into the rollout of our dry solution, we held a fireside chat with Hapag-Lloyd where we discussed the benefits of ORBCOMM’s dry container solution and the lessons we learned. Ten months after the first dry container solution was delivered to Hapag-Lloyd, the shipping line hit a significant milestone with the installation of its 700,000th device in October. This success is a testament to ORBCOMM’s ability to deliver at scale, our simple installation process and Hapag-Lloyd’s outstanding fleet management.  

Through the experience of first adopters, supply chain stakeholders increasingly recognize the commercial benefits of reliable and timely data, such as enhanced planning certainty, improved fleet utilization and greater visibility for insurers. Looking at the current levels of market interest, 2024 looks set to be another big year as more companies adopt dry container tracking, at scale, across their fleets.   

Boxing clever 

Ship carrying refrigerated containers

In tandem with the successful commercial launch of our dry solution, we continued to add value to both the reefer and intermodal markets in 2023.  

We have upgraded and relaunched our ORBCOMM ReeferConnect platform—now called the ORBCOMM Maritime platform—to make maritime asset management easier than ever. Featuring a more dynamic and modern user interface, the platform delivers a superior user experience that provides easier access to key data insights.  

There’s more to come in 2024, as it also supports our new genset monitoring solution. Combining real-time asset visibility and fuel status reporting, customers will be able to improve genset utilization, optimize fuel usage, accurately plan refueling and avoid emergency genset stops by reducing manual fuel checks, detecting fuel level changes and being alerted to significant fuel level drops. For the first time, shippers will be able to access comprehensive reefer, dry container, genset and chassis data in one place. 

When integrated with data from our innovative VesselConnect shipboard network, our telematics solutions offer complete asset visibility, even deep at sea where visibility has traditionally been a challenge. 

 Thought leadership for a better tomorrow 

During 2023, we released a white paper on how tracking and monitoring dry containers stands to revolutionize the market, along with one on how telematics solutions can help supply chain stakeholders meet their decarbonization goals. 

The adoption of the 2023 International Maritime Organization (IMO) Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships by the IMO’s Maritime Environment Protection Committee was a brilliant example of what can be achieved given a common goal. Providing a robust framework for action to combat climate change and its impacts, the strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the future of international shipping. That said, shipping must begin reducing its emissions today while also exploring alternative fuels and propulsion technologies. Innovative solutions are available now, and telematics can play a pivotal role in expediting decarbonization by optimizing container supply chain efficiency and asset utilization.   

Communication is the heartbeat of relationships  

As an industry leader, we know how important it is to share our knowledge of IoT technology and market trends. In February, our team released a podcast “The Power of IoT in the Supply Chain” where we covered how container IoT can help reduce carbon footprint, limit route congestion and more.

Image of ORBCOMM team members talking around tableThree months later, we worked with the Journal of Commerce to produce the “Data-Driven Boxes: Closing Critical Information Gaps in Container Shipping” webinar (available on demand), where we brought together container and logistics experts to discuss the impact of telematics solutions on both the cold and dry chains.   These digital events allowed us to reach a wider online audience and provided new avenues of dialogue with logistics stakeholders.  

We truly value the relationships we built this year—both online and in person. We were privileged to be able to meet so many new and existing customers, peers and industry specialists at various events throughout the year, including TPM 2023, Intermodal Asia and Intermodal Europe to name a few.  

The opportunity to engage with industry leaders and decision makers from across the global container shipping and intermodal logistics communities is a vital aspect of keeping up to date on the industry.  

A photo of the ORBCOMM team at Intermodal Europe 2023

ORBCOMM was delighted that Christian Allred, ORBCOMM’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of International Sales, was invited to participate in the “Cool Cargoes II: Investing in the Future—Tech, Infrastructure, and Beyond” panel discussion at TPM 2023 in March. Christian took part in an interesting and lively discussion on how investment in cold chain technology can help bring stability to the shipping industry. He also addressed delegates during Intermodal Europe in October, where he talked about greenhouse gas emissions becoming a key performance metric and how telematics can help shipping lines meet their decarbonization goals. 

An image of the Women in Container Logistics Working Lunch

On a personal level, I was excited to participate in a panel discussion on leadership at Intermodal Europe’s Women in Container Logistics Working Lunch. Women are still an underrepresented demographic in both the transport and technology industries, and it was wonderful to rub shoulders with some incredibly talented and determined women and share experiences about forging careers in competitive environments. I hope to continue to fly the flag for greater female involvement in these key industrial sectors and to inspire the next generation in 2024 and beyond. 

An image of all the participants at the Intermodal Europe Womens Working Lunch

Future gazing 

As we approach the new year, we recognize that innovation and communication are the keys to moving the dial forwards. 

2024 is likely to be another challenging year for shipping lines as international tensions and global economics continue to lower demand for containers. Shipping lines also face additional costs as they ramp up efforts to comply with impending decarbonization targets, and uncertainties as they plan for further potential supply chain disruptions. The cyclical nature of container shipping is well known, but as companies look to differentiate their services from peer rivals to maintain or grow market share, they are increasingly gravitating towards digital solutions.  

As a technology provider, our corporate goal is to address the current and emerging needs of the industry. We’ll continue to help our customers maximize their ROI, improve business transparency, inform reporting and enhance customer service with our suite of hardware, software, connectivity and platforms. 

Optimizing operational efficiency is one of ORBCOMM’s core business objectives, and promoting system interoperability and seamless data exchange, using API standards, will continue to be at the heart of our value proposition. 

Looking at the bigger picture, I’m excited by the prospect of our products and services being employed to also help address overarching issues in ocean health and container security. “Where data drives decisions” is our company motto, and as digitalization leads us one step closer to Shipping 4.0, I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for us and for the maritime industry.  

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