Learn about the basic maritime terms: ETA, ETD, ATD, and ATA

Basic maritime terms are widely used throughout logistics to convey information between the sender and receiver. ETA, ETD, ATD, and ATA are acronyms that indicate the cargo’s arrival and departure date and time. It is crucial to know the dates and times for the arrival of shipments to plan and work on the storage and distribution processes. With the blooming of technology, it has become easier to predict the shipment arrival time accurately. Real-time tracking of sea vessels helps traders stay updated with the shipment’s whereabouts. The blog gives detailed information about the essential terms related to the maritime industry.

What are the maritime terms?

The maritime industry uses various marine acronyms to convey vessel information between traders. The logistics industry follows a proper schedule to initiate timely transportation to achieve on-time deliveries.

  1. ETA – It stands for the estimated time of arrival that indicates when the shipment will arrive at its destination. It can never be an exact time, but it lets the customer know an approximate date based on the transit route.
  2. ETD – It is the estimated time of delivery or departure that indicates when the shipment is to be dispatched. The date is usually precise, while the time may vary based on the vacancy of the mode of transport.
  3. ATD – It is the actual time of departure of the shipment from its origin. The ATD is documented and should be close to the ETD to maintain the supply chain balance.
  4. ATA – It is the actual time of arrival that signifies the time when the shipment arrives at its delivery location. An efficient trade is one where the ATA and ETA approximately align.

Importance of basic maritime terms

Time plays a vital role in the trade industry, especially in the case of international shipping. Shipping companies with the fastest delivery rate are chosen when goods are sorted for delivery. It is because shipments reaching the destination on time or in the shortest amount of time account for higher profit rates. The maritime terms help assign accurate dates and times for incoming and outgoing shipments. The importance of these terms is as follows-

  1. These basic maritime terms help traders know about the delivery and arrival of their shipments to plan their next steps accordingly.
  2. In cases of intermodal transport, it is essential to have an approximate day and time so that the subsequent transport can be ready for transhipment.
  3. When time is allotted for each shipment, it reduces the chances of port congestion that could lead to considerable delays.
  4. Trade routes are managed and cleared by distributing traffic to allow incoming sea vessels. It assures timely delivery since vessels do not get stuck in traffic or need not spend long hours waiting for berthing.

Purpose of basic maritime terms

The reason why the maritime industry felt a need to integrate the marine terms was because-

  1. Track shipment – To boost efficiency in global shipping, senders and receivers need to be aware of the status of their shipments. Therefore a vague timeline was submitted in the form of ETA and ETD by the shipping company to the shipper.
  2. Increase reliability – A high-value or large shipment needs to be carried with safety and precautions. Its on-time delivery assures the clients of the service and builds trust with the shipping company.
  3. Planning storage and distribution – Allows business companies to lock deals regarding the shipment that will arrive with other traders or suppliers.
  4. Relay information – For any reason, the delays in the ETA or ETD can be conveyed to the traders to alter the further plans accordingly.

How is ETA calculated?

Technology is changing the custom methods used for calculating a vessel’s arrival. Earlier, while it was a vague approximate prediction based on the distance, route, and direction of wind and tides, now it is based on real-time data. It has become easier to get weather forecasts and plan to ship accordingly. Using GPS trackers and getting data from satellites, the tracker can get live information about the vessels‘ schedules and stoppages making it easier to have a clear idea about its arrival. Calculating this miscellaneous time spent makes understanding the ship’s arrival easier.

Reasons for changes in ETA and ETD

Late delivery of a large shipment has a ripple effect on the entire supply chain leading to increased demand and, therefore, inflation. If an urgent shipment gets delayed, the traders suffer huge losses. Consequently, it is crucial to manage the timely delivery of shipments. There can be multiple reasons why the load does not reach its destination on the ETA or does not depart on the ETD.

  1. Lack of Labour – The shortage of skilled and trained manual workforce is crucial in the shipping industry. It may take time to load and unload cargo if the required workers are unavailable.
  2. Equipment shortages – The ports should have sufficient equipment to fulfil shipping demands during a sudden influx of orders. Due to shortage, multiple shipments cannot be loaded simultaneously. Each shipment will have to wait, leading to delays.
  3. Weather conditions – Unfavourable weather conditions like storms, high tides, etc., create hindrances in a smooth voyage. It may cause the ship to make several stoppages to slow down the speed.
  4. Green shipping – The IMO is working to ensure that the rate of GHG emissions becomes zero by 2050. Ships sail at slow speeds to optimise fuel usage and reduce GHG emissions. The slow speed accounts for a longer delivery time than usual.
  5. Port Congestion – If the berthing platforms are not free, sea vessels must wait for their turn. Ships stop at midway ports to refuel or perform urgent repairs. It may account for additional time.

Tracking of shipping vessels through sensors

With new technologies, vessels have equipped themselves with real-time tracking devices to notify their shipping party about the ship’s whereabouts. Traders can track their shipments on the map and be informed about the arrival time via emails or text messages. The traders may also receive notifications about any changes in the arrival time based on delays due to weather, maintenance and repair or refuelling stoppages. Monitored voyages help increase ships‘ efficiency and the chances of on-time delivery since the trader watches every mile.

The efficiency of the maritime industry is measured by the time taken for delivery and the condition of goods on delivery. The basic maritime terms help in carrying out one of these vital functions. Knowing the estimated date and time allows the consumers to make further decisions regarding the storage and distribution of the shipment.

LOTUS Containers is a shipping container company with a network of 300+ container depots in the global maritime industry. Contact us to get budget-friendly and durable shipping container solutions.

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