The global telematics enabled container equipment fleet is forecast to grow eight-fold over the next five years and account for 25% of global box inventories by 2026, according to a new report from UK consultancy Drewry.
Smart containers have increased in prominence following the onset of the covid pandemic and resultant supply chain disruption which has highlighted the need for better cargo visibility to cope with longer and more volatile transit times.
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 containers and so improve equipment availability.
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.
Drewry estimates that by the end of 2021 around 3.6% of the global container equipment fleet was fitted with smart technology devices following growth of over 30% through the year.
However, take-up varies considerably by equipment type, with penetration already strong in reefer and intermodal containers but much lower in the dry box sector.
Already as much as a third of the maritime reefer container fleet is smart-enabled, while the figure is over 40% for intermodal containers, according to Drewry estimates.
Drewry forecasts that the number of smart containers in the global fleet will accelerate in the five years to 2026 to reach over 8.7m units, representing as much as 25% of worldwide box inventories.
“As technological innovation lowers the cost of devices and enhances their value to both transport operators and BCOs, uptake is expected to hasten,” Drewry stated.
Hapag-Lloyd’s recent announcement that it intends to equip its entire dry box fleet with smart devices will force other leading carriers to follow suit, Drewry reckons.