Everything You Need to Know About Container Tracking Shipment

Discover the comprehensive guide on container tracking shipment and its transformative impact on global logistics. Uncover the inner workings of container tracking systems, powered by advanced technologies like GPS, IoT, and blockchain, offering real-time visibility and security for shipments.  Learn why container tracking is crucial for enhancing supply chain optimization, customer satisfaction, and cargo safety.

Container tracking technology has revolutionized the way goods are transported globally. Its ability to provide real-time visibility, optimize supply chains, and enhance operational efficiency makes it an indispensable tool in modern logistics. However, continued efforts to address challenges and explore innovative solutions will be crucial to unlocking the full potential of container tracking in the years to come.

track container shipment

What is Container Tracking Shipment?

Container tracking is a vital aspect of the shipping and logistics industry. It involves monitoring and tracing the movement of shipping containers from their point of origin to their final destination. By leveraging advanced technologies and systems, container tracking ensures that cargo remains secure, and its location is known at every stage of the supply chain.

How Does Container Tracking Work?

Container tracking systems work by equipping the shipping containers with tracking devices or tags. These devices communicate with satellites or central monitoring stations, sending and receiving signals to update the container’s location and condition. The information is then relayed to the relevant stakeholders through user-friendly interfaces.

The Importance of Container Tracking

The optimization of international trade operations depends critically on effective container tracking. Here are some major justifications for why container tracking is crucial:

1. Enhancing Visibility

Container tracking provides real-time visibility into the location of shipments, offering businesses the ability to plan and schedule operations more efficiently. By reducing delays and increasing customer satisfaction, this heightened transparency plays a crucial role in enhancing overall logistics management.

2. Security and Safety

Container tracking substantially mitigates the risk of cargo theft and unauthorized access. The continuous monitoring of containers enables swift detection of any abnormalities, facilitating timely interventions to protect the shipment from potential threats.

3. Supply Chain Optimization

Having precise knowledge of container locations empowers logistics companies to optimize their supply chain routes, resulting in decreased transit times and significant cost savings.

Where to Track Shipping Containers?

Keeping track of shipping containers has been significantly simplified and streamlined, all thanks to the advancements in modern technology and the abundance of readily accessible online resources. If you’re seeking effective means to track shipping containers, the following methods stand out as the most reliable options:

1. Container Tracking Websites

Among the various methods available for tracking shipping containers, one of the most user-friendly and easily accessible options is through container tracking websites. These specialized online platforms serve the sole purpose of offering real-time updates on the precise location and current status of containers across the globe.

2. Shipping Line Websites

Another reliable option for container tracking is to visit the official website of the shipping line responsible for transporting your containers. Almost every shipping company has its own tracking portal, allowing customers to monitor their containers effortlessly.

3. 3PL & 4PL Service Providers

If you are utilizing the services of a third- or fourth-party logistics provider (3PL or 4PL), they often have their own integrated tracking systems for containers. These providers streamline the tracking process by offering a centralized platform for all your shipments.

Technologies Powering Container Tracking

Several advanced technologies work in tandem to provide accurate container tracking capabilities. These includes:

1. Global Positioning System (GPS)

Utilizing satellite technology, GPS enables real-time container tracking, accurately determining their exact location anywhere across the globe.

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

Containers are equipped with IoT devices to gather and transmit essential data on factors like temperature, humidity, and vibrations. This data plays a crucial role in safeguarding the cargo’s integrity throughout its entire journey. By continuously monitoring these factors, potential issues can be identified early, allowing for timely interventions to protect the cargo from any harm or spoilage.

3. Blockchain

Blockchain technology guarantees secure and immutable data sharing among stakeholders, fostering trust and transparency in the container tracking process. By utilizing blockchain, the container tracking system gains added integrity and reliability, reassuring all involved parties of the accuracy and authenticity of the shared information.

4. Data Analytics

Sophisticated data analytics tools process the extensive tracking data generated, offering valuable insights to optimize logistics operations. These tools efficiently analyze the vast amounts of information, enabling businesses to make informed decisions, streamline processes, and enhance overall efficiency in their logistics endeavors.

To utilize this method, you will need the container’s unique reference number.

The tracking system can provide essential details such as:

Container Number (CN):

Container tracking is typically carried out using container number plates, which offer a precise way to monitor multiple containers associated with the same bill of lading. Third-party websites or the shipping company’s online services can be used to track the location of any number of containers.

Bill of Lading (BOL):

A bill of lading is a legal document used to record pertinent details about a shipment, such as its origin, destination, type of goods being shipped, and their value.

Booking Number (BN):

Shipping companies utilize their proprietary booking systems to secure cargo space on vessels for transportation. These systems are designed to allocate a unique booking number to each shipment, which serves the crucial purposes of tracking and managing the cargo throughout its journey. This streamlined process ensures efficient handling and monitoring of shipments, facilitating smoother logistics operations within the shipping industry.

What are the Container Tracking Milestones?

Container tracking encompasses several vital milestones that guarantee the smooth and secure transportation of goods from their origin to the final destination. Below are the essential stages in the container tracking process:

  • Container Loading: The initial significant stage involves the careful placement of goods into the container at its point of origin, which may encompass a manufacturing facility, a warehouse, or a port.
  • Customs Clearance: Prior to the container’s departure from the country of origin, it undergoes customs clearance procedures to verify adherence to export regulations and documentation requirements.
  • Port Departure: Following customs clearance, the container is loaded onto a vessel and sets sail from the port of origin.
  • In-Transit Tracking: Throughout the journey, the container is tracked in real-time, providing updates on its current location and estimated time of arrival (ETA).
  • Transshipment: In some cases, containers may be transferred to other vessels or modes of transportation during the journey, known as transshipment, to reach their final destination.
  • Port Arrival: The container arrives at the port of destination and goes through customs clearance and inspection once again.
  • Container Unloading: Upon completion of customs clearance at the destination port, the container is unloaded, and the goods are readied for onward transportation.
  • Inland Transportation: Subsequent to arriving at the destination port, the goods are transported from there to the ultimate delivery location, which may consist of a warehouse, distribution center, or directly to the customer.
  • Final Delivery: Upon reaching its ultimate destination, the container concludes its journey, and the goods it carries are delivered to the designated consignee or recipient.
  • Container Return: Regarding shipping containers, once they have been unloaded, they are generally sent back to the shipping line or container depot for the purpose of reuse.


Container tracking has many advantages, not the least of which is its capacity to increase both operational effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Businesses can more effectively plan and schedule their operations, cutting down on delays and expenses, by receiving real-time updates on container locations. Additionally, container tracking guarantees the security and safety of the cargo and allows for quick interventions in the event of any potential threats or anomalies.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do container tracking websites obtain real-time data?

Container tracking websites collect real-time data from various sources, including GPS devices installed on containers, satellite systems, and communication networks used by shipping companies.

2. Are there any fees associated with using container tracking websites?

Users can track containers without paying any additional fees thanks to the vast majority of container tracking websites that provide their services for free.

3. Is container tracking available for all shipping routes worldwide?

Container tracking is widely available for most major shipping routes across the globe. However, some remote or less-traveled routes may have limited tracking capabilities.

4. Can I track historical data of my containers using these methods?

Certain container tracking methods provide the convenience of historical data retrieval, enabling users to access past tracking information related to their containers. This feature allows stakeholders to review and analyze previous shipment details, including the container’s movement history and status at various stages of the supply chain.