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Big Data + Digitization + Integration + Collaboration + Standardization: How can this work in practise?

Increasingly we are reading about the buzz words of BIG DATA, DIGITIZATION, INTEGRATION, COLLABORATION and STANDARDIZATION in shipping today.

A lot of the time, it feels, these words are used with little actual substance to how they are actually applicable in shipping.

Here I attempt to provide a good example of where all 5 of these buzz words can actually make a difference.  

Thousands of voyage calculations are performed every day in the world of shipping

They are the backbone of how an owner/operator/charterer runs his business and assesses what price/route/cargo to fix next.

What data is used nowadays to perform a Voyage Calculation and where does it come from?

1. VESSEL DESCRIPTION

Data source: 

a. Own vessel on voy calc database already 

b. External vessel description sent by broker via email - input manually 

 

2. PORT COSTS

Data source: 

a. Historical costs already on voy calc database 

b. External source such as G-ports ports database. Available online. Input manually.

c. External source such as Port Agents. Available via email or telephone. Input manually.

 

3. PORT RESTRICTIONS

Data source: 

a. Historical port info already on voy calc database 

b. External source such as G-ports ports database. Available online. Input manually.

c. External source such as Port Agents. Available via email or telephone. Input manually.

 

4. AGENTS CONTACT DETAILS

a. Available on inhouse database of Agent's or via Agent hub. Contacted manually

b. External source such as G-ports ports database. Available online. Contacted manually.

c. External source such as Google or Shipbrokers Register. Available online but then via email or telephone. Contacted manually.

 

5. BUNKER PRICES

Data source:

a. External source such as Bunker Broker / Platts / Bunker Index. Input manually.

 

6. CONGESTION DATA

Data source:

a. External source such as individual port lineups from agents. Input manually.

b. External source such as G-ports congestion index. Available online. Input manually.

 

7. VESSEL ROB

Data source:

a. Own vessel ROB's can be available seamlessly on certain Voy calc systems 

b. External vessel ROB's sent by broker via email - input manually

 

As we can see there's a lot of External sources being used and a lot of Manual inputs being conducted.

Given that users sometimes have to do multiple calculations on numerous vessels and/or cargoes to ascertain the 'optimum' cargo/ship to fix. The above process can, and does, lead to proponents using 'best guess' and 'experience' to perform these tasks in time pressured environments.

Utilising the buzz words of DIGITIZATION, COLLABORATION, INTEGRATIONand STANDARDIZATION here is how Voyage Calculating could be done in the near future using technology and BIG DATA.

 

1. VESSEL DESCRIPTION

Data source: 

a. Own vessel on voy calc database already 

b. NEW - API integration from Owners/Charterers Email System directly into voyage calculation software utilising 'standard' vessel description forms populated by owners and passed through the chain of recipients accordingly. 

Result: Digitization / Paperless / Less prone to error / Faster

 

2. PORT COSTS

Data source: 

a. Historical costs already on voy calc database 

b. NEW - API integration from previous external source such as G-ports. 

Result: Digitization / Paperless / Less prone to error / Faster

 

3. PORT RESTRICTIONS

Data source: 

a. Historical port info already on voy calc database 

b. NEW - API integration from previous external source such as G-ports. 

Result: Digitization / Paperless / Less prone to error / Faster

 

4. AGENTS CONTACT DETAILS

NEW - API integration from previous external source such as G-ports. Agents contactable via chat facility or whatsapp phone.

Result: Faster feedback to enquiries

 

5. BUNKER PRICES

Data source:

NEW - API integration from previous external source such as Bunker Index

Result: Digitization / Paperless / Less prone to error / Faster

 

6. CONGESTION DATA

Data source:

NEW - API integration from previous source such as G-ports congestion index, so that data feeds directly into voy calc and users can see projected impact on the voyage itself and impact on vessel scheduling in relation to rest of fleet. This also enables the user to make a more informed decision on dem/des rate to negotiate.

Result: Better informed dem/des rate negotiation decision / More accurate forecasting of affects on fleet as well as on specific voyage.

 

7. VESSEL ROB

Data source:

a. Own vessel ROB's can be available seamlessly on certain Voy calc systems 

b. NEW - API integration from Owners/Charterers Email System directly into voyage calculation software utilising 'standard' vessel description forms, including ROBs, populated by owners and passed through the chain of recipients accordingly.

Result: Digitization / Paperless / Less prone to error / Faster

In addition we can use other data available to us that is currently not used to its potential:

 

8. WEATHER FORECASTS

Data source:

a. NEW - API integration from Weather Forecast solution provider enabling user to more accurately calculate relevant sea margin to apply to voyage calc. In addition, permits operations and scheduling to see forecasted impact on fleet position.

Result: More accurate forecasting of affects on fleet as well as on specific voyage.

 

9. PORT PERFORMANCE DATA

Data source:

NEW - API integration from Laytime Management Solutions such as Falmor 

Result: Analysis of BIG DATA sat on Falmor enables user to see history of 'port performance' enabling better informed decisions to be made at the time of negotiating the dem/des rate of the fixture.

 

10. SCHEDULING - FLEET v CARGO v FFA POSITION v RISK

Data source:

NEW - Via the API integration of all the above external sources of information the result enables users to have a better, more accurate and up to date view of one's overall position.

The result of all these 'Buzz' words being brought into a real world example enables users/companies to:

  • Make more informed decisions
  • Make quicker decisions
  • Make more accurate decisions
  • Become more proactive to situations/opportunities rather than reactive
  • Enable other departments - operations, scheduling, risk - to have a clearer view on the 'real picture'
  • Reduce the chance of large variances between 'Estimate' v 'Actual' occurring.
  • Better manage one's dem/des exposure from both a cash flow perspective and a risk perspective
  • Better manage and optimise one's fleet v cargo v FFA position

This is but one of the many ways BIG DATA, DIGITIZATION,  INTEGRATION, COLLABORATION and STANDARDIZATION can be brought to benefit todays shipping markets.

Scenario 2 to follow soon!