Data sharing could unlock billions of dollars in commercial profits for shipping and accelerate decarbonization. But legacy systems and a restrictive mindset are hindering the digital transformation of the industry and blocking the vital transition to an API economy seen in other industries.
Economic modeling by UK consultancy Critical Future has shown that industry players could realize up to $237 billion in additional value by 2027 by adopting a business model based on data sharing. which could increase profitability by 14 to 19% depending on the vessel. type.
The company said in a whitepaper that “sharing non-confidential data such as fleet management information could trigger substantial productivity gains.”
“Benefits would include improved efficiency of vessel operations, with increased net revenues for shipping companies and wider societal gains in terms of sustainability,” according to the recent study, commissioned by the US supplier. software as a service (SaaS). OrbitMI.
The drive for decarbonization will require industry to provide reliable and independently validated emissions data that will need to be aggregated into a data pool for analysis to enable operational efficiencies across fleets .
This means that ship operators will need to collaborate through data sharing to achieve the common goal of sustainability, which will require a major shift from the competitive mindset currently prevailing in the industry.
The enormous benefits of data sharing have already been seen in terrestrial industries, especially in the medical sector, as biotech companies have collaborated to develop life-saving vaccines in record time to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The maritime industry generates huge volumes of data from different aspects of ship operations, including navigation, fuel consumption and engine status, as well as in chartering, port logistics, bunkering, insurance, class, legal, finance, regulatory and other fields.
But the study said: ‘Maritime data is currently not shared by key stakeholders, and therefore maritime operators may not get the full picture. This has implications for risk management, efficiency and sustainability of ships as fuel consumption increases.
Thinking in silos
While the industry already uses software to support operations, much of the data generated from multiple systems, diverse sources, standard reports, and emails between departments remains efficiently stored in silos and under -used, which slows down decision-making.
But data is like oil: it remains of limited use unless refined. To take advantage of this data, Big Data methods such as AI-based machine learning and blockchain technology are needed to synthesize, analyze and understand it to provide actionable insights to make the right decisions in favor sustainability and profitability.
Big data analytics offers hindsight to understand what happened in the past, insight to focus on what’s happening now, and a forward-looking view so the data can be used to predict what will happen next .
This is useful, for example, to obtain actionable information on fuel consumption and engine efficiency to reduce costs and emissions from the analysis of data collected in accordance with the energy efficiency management plan on board ships mandated by Marpol.
Likewise, there is now a growing trend towards an onboard Internet of Things with the use of digital sensors linking equipment such as engines and propulsion systems, generating real-time data for condition monitoring. and preventive maintenance.
A recent study by weather intelligence company DTN on digitalization in shipping also shows that integrating improved weather data not only secures crew, ship and cargo, but also improves energy efficiency and effort. of decarbonization.
Some shipping companies are realizing the opportunity to leverage shared data to optimize vessel performance, such as Wallenius Wilhelmsen which has integrated weather and port information from external sources into its fleet’s operational data stream.
Its chief digital officer, Simon White, emphasizes that value comes from how data is combined, contextualized and integrated into processes.
“A clear case is how we combine ship, weather and port data with freight forecasts to optimize ocean voyages. This allows for better planning and predictability – and importantly, it also significantly reduces energy consumption and emissions,” he said.
And he adds: “To me, digitization and sustainability are two sides of the same coin.”
The explosion of advanced data, along with increasing access to real-time information, means systems must be able to process and aggregate data in a way that is easy to access and understand. DTN therefore provides its weather-enhanced data to SaaS companies that provide integrated data solutions.
“Taking full advantage of weather intelligence within integrated systems delivers foresight and planning across the entire supply chain, enabling confident decisions and accelerating digitalization across the industry as a whole,” notes Jarco van der Brink, Strategic Product Manager at DTN.
However, while many shipowners have invested in cloud-based digital solutions, most have stuck with legacy analog systems and processes to manage their fleets and continue to operate as they have for decades.
Aging and inflexible IT infrastructure, along with the cost and complexity of replacing legacy systems and the lack of standardized infrastructure, are seen as major barriers to improving visibility and collaboration in the transportation industry maritime.
There is also a high degree of industry inertia in migrating to cloud-based digital systems, driven by cybersecurity and digital trust concerns, as well as doubts about potential business benefits, a lack training and little understanding of the relative merits of different software. .
According to the Critical Future study, one of the greatest barriers to digital transformation in shipping is the industry’s traditional competitive and top-secret mindset that makes it reluctant to transparency and data sharing.
Although the necessary technologies already exist, the industry must find ways to overcome this narrow mindset through greater collaboration between shipowners, suppliers and other stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities of digitalization. , which transcend any business.
Unfortunately, vendors are also paranoid about data sharing given that their business models rely on the quality of their data, making them reluctant to share it. Since data is formatted in different ways by different vendors, there are no viable standards or frameworks to link data generated by different proprietary platforms.
Economics of APIs
This lack of transparency and stubborn reliance on legacy systems has resulted in a highly fragmented digital landscape that generates a lot of dormant data locked in silos, which can enable innovation within the vendor’s own platform, but not on different platforms and systems.
Joining the API economy would allow shipping to take full advantage of the potential of cloud-based digital systems. An application programming interface (API) creates standards that allow multiple vendors to share selected data across multiple platforms without compromising sensitive, business-critical information.
APIs make it possible, for example, to use Google Maps and weather data in different travel booking apps or websites to aggregate hundreds of different itineraries from multiple airlines, as well as to facilitate seamless money transfer and secure from one bank to another.
These can be compared to the standardized system of twist-lock connectors found on containers which allows them to be attached to each other, a truck, a railcar or a ship. Similarly, APIs act as standardized connectors between applications, but do not require full transparency, which mitigates privacy concerns expressed by owners and vendors.
Supplier Selection Challenge
Participation in the API economy will therefore require standardization across platforms as well as the development of a common “language” understood by different software vendors and other stakeholders.
Marketing Manager for Lloyd’s Register Maritime Performance Services, Mark Warner, highlighted several “digital pivots” for industry transformation, including flexible, secure and connected infrastructure both on board and ashore. , ship-to-shore data transfer and analysis to avoid silos, and intelligent, automated workflows – with a shift to a “digital-first mindset.”
The growth of the API trend has spawned progressive software vendors such as OrbitMI, which offers vessel performance management, DTN and communications software specialist Sedna whose applications are designed for system-neutral integration and compatibility. equipment.
But OrbitMI Chief Marketing Officer David Levy says, “Not all software companies are created equal. The industry therefore needs proper benchmarking to enable shipowners to select applications that can meet their needs and provide an effective return on investment.