Maritime digitalisation: 2018 and beyond

By Ilmo Kuutti, President, NAPA Group first published in VPO Global, April 2018 In 2018 maritime digitalisation is accelerating at an exponential rate. Driven by numerous factors including the…

Ilmo Kuutti_NAPA Group_President_Maritime Digitalisation

By Ilmo Kuutti, President, NAPA Group first published in VPO Global, April 2018

In 2018 maritime digitalisation is accelerating at an exponential rate. Driven by numerous factors including the reduction of costs, increase in availability, regulatory pressure, and the expectations of the industry’s next generation of digital natives, shipping is slowly but surely abandoning the status quo and embracing digital.

However, despite growth in digital, we are not there yet. Much of our industry still working on paper noon reports and 90% of the global fleet is still without access to vessel performance monitoring.

The gap between those investing in advanced digital solutions and those only just shifting to electronic reporting, however, looks set to decrease rapidly as options become more accessible and cost effective. A key factor is the number of satellites orbiting the earth, which has proliferated substantially over the last few years. One way this has already shifted the bar is the increased coverage of AIS (Automatic Identification System) data, to the point that we now have access to quality data on the location and route of vessels around the world.

However, there is no value in data without meaning. To be anything other than a cost, it must be analysed and transformed into useful information. On its own, AIS data can be useful in tracking, but to truly deliver value we have to enter the world of Big Data analytics – using data from multiple available data sources such as AIS, EU-MRV monitoring, weather, tidal information and even on-board data through increased ship to shore connectivity to derive answers to the questions owner, operators, shippers and charterers are asking.

Data analytics can help manage the issues that keep supply chain stakeholders up at night:  Are ships following the agreed operational profile? Can anything be done to reduce fuel spend? Has the cargo been loaded safely? Are my shore-based teams getting what they need to be as productive as they can be?

With an unprecedented amount of data at its fingertips, the industry must now transform that data into actionable insights that enable shipowners, managers, and charterers to enhance the efficiency of their operations and boost their bottom lines. We anticipate that these problem-solving tools, like NAPA Fleet Intelligence, the industry’s first web service that provides ship operational insights 100% remotely, will proliferate in number and application over the next year. This is where we will see potential disruptors – the word that’s been on everyone’s lips this year – begin to rise.

2018 could be a significant tipping point for the industry on digitalisation. Economies of scale and external pressures, such as EU MRV and the finalisation of the ECDIS Mandate, will make digital tools more essential and accessible to those stuck in the paper age. While the opportunities of digital will open doors for those willing to move ahead of the pack even faster than they are now. We are moving into an exciting time for the digital sphere, and we at NAPA are excited to be leading the development of digital solutions that can help the industry be safer, more productive and more efficient across its touchpoints.