APIs have become the global standard for providing secure, real-time data in the apps we rely on in our daily lives – from banking to google maps.
Adoption of APIs in the logistics industry has historically been low, however since APM Terminals launched its range of APIs over two years ago, customers are increasingly seeing the benefits APIs can offer their businesses.
Take-up of APM Terminals range of APIs for real-time tracking of containers is gaining momentum, and Harry Drok, Head of Product Management at APM Terminals, believes the industry has reached a turning point regarding API acceptance.
With the recent addition of data for its container terminal in the Port of Progreso, Mexico, APM Terminals’ customers can now access data for 19 of the company’s locations via API. APM Terminals also offers a Truck Appointment API at several of its terminals, enabling the complete integration of appointment management into the trucking companies own logistics management system.
As one of the first to launch a comprehensive range of APIs across its terminals, the company has shared the responsibility for raising the level of industry understanding around APIs. “Even today, many of our customers rely on EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) despite APIs offering a much more real-time experience and less ongoing maintenance,” says Laura Bercan, Digital Portfolio Owner Data Products.
“We’ve recently published a short film called ‘API vs EDI: Top three reasons to switch to standard-based APIs’ on our website to help increase understanding. The film was created by the Digital Container Shipping Association, who we work with to ensure our APIs conform to a common set of standards for our industry.”
Many consumers of API data in the logistics industry tend to be data aggregators, however the standardisation of APIs and self-service implementation offered, means that they also offer potential for direct use by end users, such as APM Terminals most recent customer, Duncan Trucking Duncan and Son Lines, Inc.
Competitive advantage for customers
Duncan and Son Lines, Inc., a fourth generation, family-owned logistics firm, in business since 1943, is among the first to recognize the competitive advantage that APIs can offer their international container drayage business operating in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
“We recently integrated APM Terminals APIs into our logistics systems to give us a competitive edge by providing real time container status data,” explains Abe Alirez, Director of IT at Duncan Trucking Ltd.
“Using APM Terminals’ APIs means our internal customer service team now has the ability to save time when providing customers with data and maximize the efficiency of our business operations.”
Despite having to adapt to new ways of working as a result of API integration into their logistics management system, Markus Ekwall from GDL Sjöcontainer in Sweden also confirmed that employees are “very happy” with the benefits offered by the APIs.
Commenting on the self-service implementation, which enables quick and easy connections to a customer’s own systems, using guidance in the APM Terminals developer portal, Markus Ekwall said: “The practical implementation of the service went very smoothly.”
“The Import Availability API enables us to get a picture of whether the container has arrived at APM Terminals Gothenburg and whether it’s gone through customs, before we start planning,” he continues. “This information is also transferred directly to our system. The API feed makes it easier for us to plan proactively and detect any disruptions in time, which benefits our customers by minimising unnecessary costs. It also saves a lot of administrative time. Instead of having to cut and paste from our system to TermPoint, we only need to press a button now. This minimises the risk of errors and enables our transport managers to devote more time to what they do best – serving our customers.”
APM terminals plans to continue the rollout of additional terminal data into its APIs, with 8 additional terminals scheduled for inclusion this year, starting with APM Terminals Valencia, Spain. Longer term, the company will be switching to push-data APIs that automatically notify a customer’s transport management system of any change in the status of a container, without waiting to be called. This will provide the ultimate real-time experience.