How API Technology is Changing Ocean Freight Technology – Top APIs for 2023

In recent years, the global sea freight market has grown significantly with the boom in international trade. 66 million TEU are forecast for 2022. Its size was estimated at US$6.41 billion in 2020 and is projected to increase to 13.19 billion tons by 2028, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% from 2021 to 2028.

It serves as the backbone of the global supply chain industry, as approximately 80 percent of all goods are transported by sea. The top 10 carriers dominate the market and control 85% of the market. The technology contributes significantly to their leading position compared to independent players. API connections in particular are a disruptive turning point in the industry’s transition to digitization.

Building powerful and flexible information systems

Acronym for “Application Programming Interface”, an API connects data from different sources to a central decision-making center. Based on a two-way data transmission, this tool acts as a bridge between multiple information systems, including their respective software, databases and devices for steady and seamless communication.

With APIs, any company is able to connect its own applications to those of its partners and make them widely accessible to users over the web or through dedicated mobile apps. Thanks to this interface, people can get the information or access the functions they need through a single and simple interface.

In particular, the use of APIs has significantly improved services such as vessel and container tracking in the context of a growing demand for real-time visibility of the expedition and the status of shipments. In this case, a carrier or carrier can call the APIs of multiple carriers and request status updates or cargo movements to centralize this information and improve customer service.

Also, thanks to APIs, developers don’t have to start from scratch to create new programs. This tool not only facilitates the programming process, but also the integration of business applications. This speeds up the release and deployment of innovative solutions with minimal resources.

How has API technology changed the ocean freight landscape?

Millions of containers are moved to/from all corners of the world every year, along with general cargo and wheeled equipment, etc. Along the ship’s lifecycle, a multitude of stakeholders from different sectors have to work together on a daily basis. Shipping companies and ship crews, shipping agencies, freight forwarders, 3PL companies and logistics providers, port operators, customs authorities, inland transport providers, warehousing teams, manufacturers or sellers and Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCOs)…

The communication and coordination of the diverse operations to be carried out requires appropriate tools. And information is the cornerstone of this digital network. APIs are important elements to quickly collect comprehensive, timely and accurate data and to minimize human interference in their core and ancillary activities.

To respond to booming demand, technology providers and stakeholders in the digital-first industry have sprung up and are rapidly multiplying. They offer solutions that take into account the specifics of the sea freight industry. In this way, they help their players become more agile, improve their efficiency and seize unexpected opportunities that fuel their business growth.

APIs work in the background to complete a variety of tasks, from the simplest to the most complex, in much less time. Therefore, they help enable the automation of processes, streamline and synchronize processes, and improve end-to-end visibility.

Fast and seamless digital transformation and expansion

In recent years, new technologies, especially artificial intelligence, have successfully revolutionized the nature of mail order business for the better by predicting and providing solutions to the problems faced by players in this industry.

The use of dedicated APIs has accelerated the digital transformation of the industry giants and put them way ahead of the competition. While most independent stakeholders still rely on paperwork, basic EDIs for information exchange and disparate tools for different activities, the largest companies in shipping and related fields are harnessing the full potential of new information technologies to work smarter.

With APIs, they are able to exchange information and functionalities in real time across the entire supply chain. CRM, ERP and automated tracking systems bring significant benefits: 360 degree visibility, improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, reduced risk, increased transparency and a higher level of service to their customers without overburdening their team.

Integration of environmental monitoring into existing systems

In order to increase their efficiency and competitiveness, the players in the sea freight industry will continue to go digital. Instant access to valuable insights and state-of-the-art tools supports relevant decision-making and runs your business efficiently through your internal system.

Part of these decisions concern environmental issues, since tackling pollution is a top priority for the maritime shipping sector. APIs enable companies to assess their carbon footprint and access ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance, ESG) analysis to drive sustainability initiatives and climate action: optimizing route planning, switching to cleaner energy sources, better planning and managing port operations, adaptation of projects in order to protect marine and coastal ecosystems.

The most popular APIs used in ocean freight

  • APIs for monitoring CO2 and noise emissions: Significant progress has been made in environmental monitoring technology with the enforcement of the CII regulation in January 2023 and the IMO paying close attention to noise emissions from ships in general and in sensitive areas in particular. Shipowners and ship managers are showing increasing interest in these issues as sustainability becomes both a core regulatory focus and a competitive factor.

The integration of noise and CO2 emission estimation into route planning systems is the latest trend in sea freight.

  • ETA and Port Congestion APIs: Estimated Time The arrival of ships and goods in port is a critical part of multimodal logistics and supply chain operations. With the significant growth in sea traffic, major seaports are struggling with port congestion, which severely affects ETA accuracy and can trigger delivery setbacks.

While AIS and GPS data provide a real-time indicator of vessel and cargo movement, technology such as machine learning has emerged as a valuable enhancement for track and trace solutions that provide reliable forecasts and help ports and ship agents optimize port calls.

  • Ship and Cargo Movement APIs: Used in ocean freight, these services enable accurate tracking of vessel and container movements, which is critical for customer service activities such as trucking shipment tracking, fleet performance assessment for carriers, and even compliance analysis for inspectors.

Among the popular providers, carriers themselves provide their customers with API gateways for their shipment status. Carriers also make their schedules available to their customers via API.
However, shippers and freight forwarders make this data available to their customers, some technology providers have built their business on centralizing all this data, offering data not just for one shipper or shipper, but for ships and containers worldwide.

  • Weather and Ocean Conditions API:By layering weather and meteo-ocean datasets on route systems, shippers can accurately assess en route weather conditions in real time and make the optimal route planning decision based on sea state, current and wind strength.

This data can also be useful for analyzing incidents and security logs to help stakeholders decide if the route chosen was the right one or if everything was done according to protocol.

Service providers like Sinay offer a wide range of secure APIs that are available off the shelf, including special discovery offers and free trials that allow any integrator to build and enhance any information system.

In a huge industry, the race for profit can only be won using information and data resources allowed by the API. The paradigm shift towards sustainability that the industry must go through follows the same trends. We can safely say that APIs really are the future of an ever-changing and expanding maritime market.


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