Data Analytics & Digitalisation to Drive Global Shipping Industry

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In the age of digitalisation ‘Data’ is a key asset. Especially in the post-COVID scenario, the industrial sectors are going to rely on data to drive businesses. The maritime sector is no exception as it generates a vast pool of data collected from various sources, onboard vessels and while the ships are berthed.

Data analysis allows the growth of vessel support network and improves safety. In addition, the study of data has helped in making ship management more economical, in terms of cost and time both. Onboard, the seafarers use data to chart short-term course of action with ‘predictions’. Right from collection, analysis to interpretation of data, the shipping industry is tapping at every possible source and technology to better utilize the data.

For instance, predictive analysis has become the new hotshot in the industry. Predictive analysis can be defined as using data, statistical algorithms and machine learning to determine the likelihood of future events and outcomes.

Through predictive analysis, it has become easier for the decision-makers in the industry to enhance operations both off-shore and on-shore. Right from maintenance, to predicting the weather conditions at the sea, to achieve the post-optimization, analysis of historical and real-time data is playing a cardinal role in increasing operational efficiency.

While discussing the importance of data analytics, it is necessary to take a look at the evolution of data collection and analysis. The history of data analysis allows us to understand the significance of data from the very beginning, making it quite clear that data has always been a key driver for lifting operational standards of the sector.

According to experts, maritime data analytics has already witnessed 3 ages and is about to enter the 4th age. The below-mentioned timeline shows the evolution of data analytics and the significance of data collection and analysis in each age: 

The first era began in 1734 when Lloyd started listing vessels and their cargo arriving at London. The first age is at times referred to as the age of chit-chat.

The second era, which can be said to have started around 1988 is also known as investigative age. It was the time that marked the arrival of IMO number of the ships along with the internet. With internet paving its way, a number of online shipping databases were produced with analytical features. Lastly, the era gave SIN to the industry which remained a de facto shipping database for a number of years.

We are presently in the third age of maritime analytics. The age has witnessed a remarkable growth and expansion of data as an asset. Big Data algorithms are playing a crucial role in the growth of the sector by allowing the shipping companies to use the database to gain more commercial advantage.

The fourth era, as experts believe, could be dedicated to crowd-sourcing of maritime data. The sector has already realized the value of data and in the future, it is expected to focus on using the information directly from the crew of the ships. This is one significant part that is yet to be exploited to fetch intimate specification of the ships. If the sector is able to achieve the target, the maritime database will be more accurate and safe.

An average ship generates 2 GB of data on a daily basis when at sea. This is huge amount of data which can be effectively used in operation, maintenance or even accomplishing the daily chores (trivial) onboard. It all depends on effective use of data analytics or IoT, for making the most out of the data generated by the ship.

Efforts are on to implement global maritime data analytics in much better ways so as to establish consistent growth. We are now at a critical turning point where good investments are flowing in for ‘technology in maritime’, especially the data analytics sector.

The Way Ahead:

A lot needs to be done to adapt in the changing landscape of data, software and the consciousness of the stakeholders (of shipping & maritime) has to grow. Much like the Internet did 20+ years ago, data analysis and the IoT is going to change the world around us. No single company can do it all alone anymore. Right investment and a wise selection of technology is the key to digital transformation. A collaborative innovation will keep the industry evolving today and prepare it for what unfolds in the future.

The COVID-19 crisis is evolving rapidly, creating considerable challenges for the logistics, supply chain, shipping and maritime sectors. Amid such a scenario, Data analytics and technology adoption is expected to gain traction during the post-COVID phase, which is expected to stabilise the maritime industry and drive it towards growth.

Sea News Feature, September 11

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News