How Big Data is Transforming the Shipping Industry

As the shipping industry begins to embrace the new opportunities that technology presents, collecting data is key for more efficient operations and smarter decision-making. The collection and analysis of big data has the ability to drive transparency across the industry and provide new means of monetization for various service providers.

Big data is becoming a strategic driver in shipping operations, and when correctly exploited, it can also be a key competitive advantage. So what is the role big data is currently playing in the shipping industry, and how can maritime companies use big data to add value to their operations as well as enhance their performance and lead strategies? To start, let’s take a closer look at the current types of data shipping organizations are generating, and how big data might apply.

Financial Data - One of the most traditional types of data but also the one that new technologies can help capture more extensively.

Operational Data - This type of data may come from onboard systems or other operational systems related to fuel consumption, port-side operations, or cargo operations.

Telemetry Data - Data that comes from the vessel itself from a range of onboard systems and instruments.

Whether there is a need to reduce costs or optimize transit times, it requires both a carrier and a shipper to implement a strategy that takes advantage of this data. For positive results, it’s important to evaluate both traditional and nontraditional data metrics, such as the ones listed above, so that both parties can reach their goals. If the data is used correctly, it can help not only forecast potential problems but also avoid them and save money. Here’s how traditional and nontraditional big data can be applied to standard shipping metrics.

Traditional Data - Look-back data from typical business systems such as fuel costs, transit times, wages, insurance, revenue per TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit). This is data that can be used to determine a voyage’s profitability.

Nontraditional Data - Time-sensitive data such as weather conditions, traffic delays, port strikes, unexpected repairs. Typically, this is data generated from sensors, GPS services, and traffic management systems.

So how exactly will big data change shipping? Using preventive technology allows managers to resolve issues effectively in a timely manner and eliminate many issues before they even occur. Whether you are on the shipping or receiving side, getting goods to their final destination undamaged and in the most cost-effective way is crucial and big data is playing an increasingly important role for both carriers and shippers to analyze and improve their shipping metrics.

Here are just a few ways big data has the potential to revolutionize the shipping industry.

Cargo Tracking
Each year approximately 1,679 shipping containers are lost at sea due to various factors. The advantages of being able to track exactly where cargo is at all times can have a significant impact on security and delivery estimates. Collecting detailed information about the movements of a container can help predict if a container will make it in time, or possibly predict if it will get lost at sea. A container can also be identified with anomalies, alerting customs to look into that container for possible security breach.

Predictive Repairs
Cargo ships spend a majority of their lifetime at sea and face an incredible beating on a daily basis. And despite the impressive construction technologies behind these ships, they still require intensive maintenance. The addition of sensors alongside predictive analytic software could identify areas that may require maintenance in advance to prevent delays and increase overall efficiency.

Terminal Operating Systems
Cloud-based software such as Octopi’s Terminal Operating System also has the ability to revolutionize how shipping companies incorporate data to improve a terminal’s productivity. The Octopi platform helps executive teams visualize and interpret the large amounts of operational data that is collected on a daily basis, such as data about cargo movements at their facilities, all in real-time.

There’s no doubt big data can greatly benefit shipping operations. In fact, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that data-driven organizations perform 5-6% better each year. For more information on how you can generate more useful, accurate data on your port operations, contact us today for a free demo of Octopi.