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MSC joins free container weight database    08/06/2018
Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world's second-largest container ship operator, has uploaded details of its entire container stock into the non-profit BoxTech database, taking the total volume of container information documented on the database to 40 percent of the world container fleet.

Mediterranean Shipping Co.

Shippers using the BoxTech database to track container weight and other information will get greater reach through the database, which now contains information on 40 percent of the world’s containers after Mediterranean Shipping Co. added its information. Photo credit:

MSC’s registration of 10 million containers with the non-profit global container database operated by France's Bureau International des Containers (BIC) means that it now contains information from three of the world’s largest container lines. Maersk Lines and CMA CGM have already provided details of their containers, and the database has doubled in size since a year ago.

The two-year-old database, launched in July 2016 to help shippers meet the demands of the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations, is increasingly used for non-SOLAS purposes, such as verifying container size and type or maximum gross weight, BoxTech said. The SOLAS regulations require shippers to submit the weight of any container being shipped before it is loaded onto a vessel, and the database lists the tare weight, max gross mass, and size type of each container.

DataBox says that aside from Maersk, MSC, and CMA CGM, hundreds of other container owners and operators utilize the platform, including two of the top four container leasing companies. The database’s 1,500 users include shippers, forwarders, terminals, and software solution providers, and the uses include tracking containers for bankruptcy proceedings, DataBox says.

“Transparency and easy, standardized data access are vital to many of the digitalization efforts under way in the shipping industry,” said André Simha, MSC's chief information officer, in a statement explaining the company’s participation in the initiative.

MSC participation expands use of neutral, non-profit platform

He said that MSC’s contribution to the database would “help expand this neutral, non-profit platform” that has “tremendous potential to help drive efficiencies in many areas.”

Douglas Owen, BIC’s secretary general, said that having some of the world’s largest container carries among DataBox’s users would help make it “a core business platform for shippers, carriers, depots, and other parties to use in their day-to-day operations.”

“The industry has changed in recent years as carriers look increasingly to technology and the use of data to drive efficiencies,” Owen said. “Although sharing data is something that has come slowly in our industry, we have seen unprecedented cooperation over the past two years and a new openness to the use of common platforms.”

The initial file of container fleet technical details can be uploaded using a .csv Excel template, and it can be automatically updated by setting up application program interfaces (APIs) to keep track of new container lessors and owners as they join the program. Shippers and intermediaries can receive information directly into their systems with no manual intervention.

APIs used for queries on the database have enabled companies to increase digitalization of their operations and automatically integrate container details into their everyday systems, BoxTech says. “Automated API database queries also streamline processes by avoiding unnecessary searches and increasing accuracy by removing the inevitable errors caused by manual data re-keying,” the non-profit said.


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