Free container database BoxTech is rapidly expanding and now has the digital records of roughly 5 million containers, representing 20 percent of the global fleet and a 50 percent increase over last month.
Launched in July of last year by French nonprofit Bureau International des Containers (BIC), BoxTech contains the tare weight, max gross mass, and size type for containers from all over the world — a particularly helpful tool for BCOs and forwarders who require the tare weight of containers to meet the new international SOLAS container weight requirements.
The potential for the growing database goes beyond helping users meet the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea rules, which in July 2016, began requiring a verified gross mass certification before a container could be loaded onto a ship. Since its launch, the database has reached more than 1,000 total users, including 800 major shippers, forwarders, and terminals and, according to BoxTech executives, those users are also looking for and finding new uses for BoxTech.
“BoxTech was initially intended primarily as a platform to provide tare weight information to support organizations’ compliance with new SOLAS rules around VGM (verified gross mass) declarations,” Douglas Owen, secretary general of the BIC, said in a statement. “However, BoxTech’s 1,000+ users are now also utilizing the database for a wide variety of purposes, such as verifying container size and type or maximum gross weight.”
Recent additions to BoxTech’s growing pool of data providers include container leasing companies Florens and Blue Sky Intermodal, Taipei-based carrier TS Lines, and Korean carriers Pan Ocean and CK Line, who have joined early adopters like ocean carrier CMA CGM and container lessors SeaCo and Touax.
For those new users and the old, Owen said, “New features are on the way, so leasing companies and carriers will soon also be able to upload ‘alert lists’ of various types.”
One such feature is a status alert list functionality. The BoxTech Alerts system will enable container owners to create alert lists that quickly flag specific units in case of bankruptcies and other recovery situations, such as lost or stolen units, or to simply inform users whenever a special status exists for a given unit. In addition, container sale and scrap lists will allow carriers and lessors to indicate containers that have permanently left their fleets, and help prevent improperly-marked containers from continuing to circulate with their markings. This should improve safety, reduce potential risk and liability, and encourage the proper neutralization of containers when sold, according to the company.
The new additions have been well received by shippers’ groups, such as the Global Shippers’ Forum, which represents thousands of shippers internationally.
“Shippers want online information about the details of the container, including the tare weight of the container to make accurate VGM declarations, but also details regarding the container’s dimensions and suitability for the cargo to be carried,” Chris Welsh, secretary general of the forum, said in a statement.
New functionalities and greater scope for queries will be possible — as more users come online, Owen said.
“With over 25 million containers frequently interchanging between operators and strong demand to move our industry into the era of digitalization, a central, neutral, non-profit, data repository is essential,” Owen said. “The closer BoxTech gets to having the entire global container fleet in the database, the more beneficial it will become for shippers, terminals, and others throughout the supply chain.”