Driving Transformation in the Tank Container Sector with Modern Technology

Digitalisation, technology modernisation, and business transformation have varied in pace across different industry sectors, driven by the growing demands of customers, suppliers, and the need to meet these demands efficiently and cost-effectively.

Traditionally, the tank container industry has lagged in adopting modern technologies and practices that enhance supply chain visibility, data exchange, and digitalisation of business processes and operations. However, increasing demands from suppliers—spurred by their customers—are compelling the entire industry to embrace modern technologies or risk obsolescence.

Historically, the success of the tank container industry hinged on the availability of tanks to transport products safely without compromising quality, maintaining a global presence to service trade lanes, and having a reliable supplier network to ensure competitive pricing.

Today, every part of the broader supply chain has developed a deeper interest in specific tank container business practices, such as safety and quality measures, asset availability, supplier reliability, and competitive service and pricing models. High levels of consumer savviness which can be seen across retail, hospitality, and the service industry has now permeated the tank container industry, bringing with it certain expectations:

  • Suppliers and service providers need timely data to ensure effective planning and avoid delays across the delivery network.
  • Regulators and governing bodies demand visibility of assets, maintenance data, employee adherence, and journey data to ensure compliance with safety, certification, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility goals.
  • Business colleagues require reliable systems that provide end-to-end visibility of operations, integrating internal systems with those of customers and suppliers, and delivering timely, relevant data for operational, tactical, and strategic decision-making.

While other industries have embraced technologies like IoT, mobile tech, and advanced analytics, the tank container industry has been slow to adopt these innovations. This presents an opportunity to bypass outdated technologies and leverage the lessons of early adopters by investing in proven technologies:

  • IoT & Telematics: Prevalent in transport and manufacturing, this technology avoids re-keying and provides real-time data on loads, locations, and critical product parameters, enabling proactive load management.
  • Blockchain: Ensures transparency and traceability, building trust with customers and regulators by supporting automatic customs clearance and document verification through smart contracts.
  • Mobile Apps and Portals: Offer real-time visibility and self-service capabilities. The growth of mobile apps, especially with the entry of Uber Freight into the UK market in 2022, will likely expand real-time freight movement visibility.
  • Big Data, AI & Machine Learning: These technologies allow the industry to gain insights from vast data stores, support ESG reporting for tenders and government, and use AI for predictive maintenance and route optimisation.

The technologies needed to modernise the industry are not new—they have been used in other sectors for some time. The primary challenge is convincing industry leaders to make the necessary financial investments to implement them.

The tank container industry must recognise the value of IT as a business asset, as critical as the tank containers themselves. No single solution will transform the industry; the right investments must be built on a foundation of robust technology infrastructure, flexible core operational systems, and an integrated architecture.

At Suttons International, we are dedicated to embracing innovation and advancing technology within the tank container industry. We understand the importance of modernizing our operations to meet the evolving needs of our customers and stakeholders. Our commitment to excellence and forward-thinking approach ensures that we remain at the forefront of industry transformation, driving efficiency, transparency, and sustainability for a better future.

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