Technology Takeaways from Caribbean Shipping Association Conference

The 46th Annual General Meeting, Conference, and Exhibition of the Caribbean Shipping Association took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The vibrant culture and welcoming people made the event incredible for the Octopi team. We’d like to extend a big thanks to the AGM Executive Team including President David Jean-Marie, Vice President Juan Carlos Croston, and General Manager Fernando Rivera.

The presentations were excellent and covered a range of topics, including those pressing in the shipping industry. Some of the themes and discussions that caught our eye:

-The State of Shipping

-Physical security


Cybersecurity in the Shipping Industry

Cybersecurity proved particularly interesting, as Pete O’Dell, CEO of Swan Island Networks, spoke on “Digital and Physical IT Security.” Swan Island provides situational awareness for ports, giving a “360 view” of everything going on in the environments around terminals.

He compared a USB drive to a toothbrush, saying, “You wouldn’t grab a dirty toothbrush and just use it, so you shouldn’t grab a USB and just plug it into your computer.”

It has never been easier to compromise on-premise services that aren’t managed correctly. This includes accounting for digital and physical attack on your services. Everything must be factored in - including local data rooms and IT facilities. While we trust our employees, these scenarios do happen. Consequently, smart businesses are gravitating towards the cloud, which offers far superior security than maintaining their infrastructure.

Big Takeaway: Security is no longer “an IT issue,” but rather a leadership issue. The cloud is becoming increasingly important as its benefits further step into the spotlight.

Our friend, Max Bobys of Hudson Analytix also spoke to “Understanding Maritime Cyber Risks” at the conference. His company, Hudson Marine, offers comprehensive services that encompass all areas of risk management, emergency and regulatory preparedness, and incident prevention and response.

One point that he brought up during his presentation is the “Cyberization of Risk,” where he spoke to how the port’s risk exposures are increasing with our connectedness. The world continues to grow closer as the internet becomes more widespread and affordable. This is great news - but not so much so when it comes to IT security.

Big Takeaway: As technology and the internet continue to proliferate globally, hackers are becoming more sophisticated. If this risk is not mitigated and managed appropriately, ports ignoring the issue are heading for disaster.


Last but not least, we discussed the massive structural shifts that are happening in the industry and the implications with the great shipping oracle, Michael Kaasner Christiensen (MKK) of CK Americas. MKK started his consultancy after a storied 24+ year career with AP-Moeller Maersk.

Technologies to Prepare Ports for the Future

During the Q&A session after his presentation, we asked Michael Kaasner Kristiansen, “What technologies should Caribbean port terminals be looking at to prepare themselves for the future?”

Kristiansen’s answer: “Data. We need to be beyond the TOS and have a solution that all customers can access.”

He expounded further, explaining how, traditionally, the terminal operating system (TOS) has been an internal tool for port terminals but that can’t be the case anymore. There ought to be a more holistic view of terminal operations that ties directly into today’s ecosystem. We have to agree - especially given where the industry currently stands.

“For every dollar of revenue Hyundai brings in, they owe $1.22 to creditors,” Michael said as he analyzed the most recent EBIT Margins for Q2 2016.


As we continue to deal with overcapacity, poor earnings, and stagnant growth, we must look toward other ways to preserve and enhance port operations. Octopi believes that this new future will be predicated and defined by exponential increases in technology. (Read our post on 'The Law of Accelerating Returns in the Shipping Industry’.)

The modern TOS should be cloud-based and focus on the customers. These customers include:

-Shipping lines




-Port authorities

The operational mentality needs to shift from inward to outward. It ought to shift from what works for the terminal to what works for the customer, as well. Their success translates to our clients’ success, and our clients’ success is our success.

We believe terminal operating systems should be as easy and impactful to ‘outside’ users as it is for team members. Octopi allows for unlimited users, enabling administrators to easily create custom permissions and grant access to anyone.

Why Terminal Operating Systems Should Focus on Customers

Looking at the actual customers using the TOS, it’s clear that the system needs to address problems and create solutions.

Freight Forwarders
The problem for this customer is they often need to open up six or seven windows to gather container info. Forwarders need a more simple system, and we foresee a few other providers getting into this space. Current systems force freight forwarders to log into multiple windows, which means forgotten credentials and time lost. This non-uniformity wastes time and effort and does not create a simple way to manage “out charges.” Octopi can help forwarders save time, improve their customer satisfaction through more transparency, and allow them to win new business by managing everything in one platform.

Trucking Companies
For this customer, congestion is a real problem many terminals face. Trucking companies need a better way to monitor their trucks, chassis, and drivers. They also need a simple solution that can help them work more effectively with the terminals. Our TOS reduces gate time, which means more moves, less dwell, and more revenue. Trucking companies can use Octopi to schedule appointments, track their own drivers and visits per day or per week, and optimize the amount of trips they can make. More boxes, quicker moves, and more money.

Agents / Consignees
The problems for agents and consignees often include: the complexity of finding containers, monitoring time sensitive shipments, maintaining perishables at proper temperatures in transit, and managing costs. Octopi can help agents who are granted access to the TOS operate with more transparency for their customers, reduce demurrage and detention costs, optimize terminal reefer plugs, and ultimately use data to help make strategic decisions.

Port Authorities/Regional Associations
The motivation for this customer is often found in long-term strategic plans. Ports want to drive throughput, revenue, and safety and need to work closely with terminals to achieve their objectives. Using Octopi, port authorities can share an operational and data-driven viewpoint with their tenants and view bottlenecks, safety and equipment issues, and other concerns. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and data such as total TEU, cargo tons, the number of vehicles, truck visits, and dwell time are incredibly valuable to this group. (For more information on KPI’s terminals should be tracking, check out our post.)


We commend the Caribbean Shipping Association for their programming and educational efforts in the region and are grateful to have attended this year’s AGM in Trinidad. It was a memorable experience - from the people and presentations, to the port tours, all the way to the closing gala. We look forward to strengthening our ties and fostering our relationship with the organization and its members at the next event.