Smart devices can change utility and value of containers – Drewry

Smart devices could transform radically the utility and value of shipping container equipment assets, according to Drewry’s latest Container Census & Leasing Annual Review & Forecast 2019/20 report.

Smart containers had increased in prominence in a very short space of time and the pace of adoption was expected to accelerate over the next five years.

A container becomes “smart” when fitted with a telematics device that provides real-time tracking and monitoring, enabling operators to increase turn time of their container equipment and so utilisation. It also allows beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) to understand the location and status of their cargo so that they can better control their supply chains.

“There are a number of factors driving this market growth, including growing calls for greater transparency and security across transport value chains,” said Drewry’s director of research products Martin Dixon. “Meanwhile, in shipping there is a demand to know the location of the container and above all the status of that container and the condition of the cargo inside it.”

Drewry estimated that, by the end of 2018, around 2.5% of the global container equipment fleet was fitted with smart technology devices. However, take-up varies considerably by equipment type, with penetration already strong in intermodal and reefer containers but much lower in the dry box sector.

Drewry forecasted that the number of smart containers in the global fleet would triple in the five years to 2023, reaching more than 2m units and representing some 6.5% of worldwide box inventories. With the cost of devices falling and their capabilities increasing, uptake was expected to accelerate. Some equipment manufacturers and leasing companies already had plans to supply equipment ready-fitted with devices, and such practices were expected to become widespread among other industry players.