The shipping industry is facing the challenge of digital transformation, driven mainly by the need to adjust its model of operation in order to encounter the change in the global economic environment, the intense competition and the fluctuating demand.
The starting point for the digitalization is to ensure a reliable flow of data collected from specific equipment and measurement instruments onboard which through advanced analytics will provide valuable and actionable insights for various roles and levels of management within a shipping company. Even though it might seem an easy process, there are some critical points that distinguish the available solutions and that could actually make the difference. Our recommendations that will help to protect your investment and ensure a right entry to the digital era are the following:
- Equipment that is specifically designed and manufactured for the maritime industry
- Certification from a credible authority
- Data cleaning and Data synchronization mechanisms
- Wired and wireless connectivity options
- Offline mode of operation
- Data acquisition as a service
- Compatibility with equipment onboard
- Data enrichment and integration with 3rd party sources
1. Equipment that is specifically designed and manufactured for the maritime industry
The environment and the operating conditions onboard are extremely tough and demanding. Generic equipment designed for regular business use will not be able to provide a robust and reliable solution in the long run. One who will select a generic solution will most likely, spend his time trying to solve problems.
2. Certification from a credible authority
In order to ensure the reliability and the longevity of your investment, you should only consider solutions that provide certification by credible authorities. The equipment and the whole solution should have been passed through extensive testing procedures and should provide verification of its compliance to the strict maritime-related standards.
3. Data cleaning and Data synchronization mechanisms
Probably it should be considered as the absolute minimum, however, the system should be able to provide data cleaning and synchronization mechanisms in order to ensure that the data delivered will be of good quality and in a format that will be ready to be used for any further analysis.
4. Wired and wireless connectivity options
Having multiple options is always an advantage, even though wired connectivity is usually preferred since it’s more reliable and provides higher transfer rates, there are quite a lot of cases where there is either no cabling available or there is great difficulty to install a new one. In such cases, wireless connectivity can prove to be a valuable solution, just make sure that it will be ZigBee and not WIFI.
5. Offline mode of operation
Since satellite connectivity issues is not an uncommon scenario, the data acquisition platform should be able to operate in an offline mode storing the collected data locally and transmitting them ashore when the communication has been restored. To be on the safe side check that you can store data locally for about one week.
6. Data acquisition as a service
The requirement for a shipping company is to have a regular stream of good data that will be processed in order to produce some valuable insights. Having to manage one more equipment on board is just another headache if it doesn’t produce the desired outcome. The ideal scenario, therefore, is to select a provider that will not sell you just another equipment but who will be responsible for the collection and the delivery of the data, a provider that will run the whole process for you and will take the burden out of your shoulders.
7. Compatibility with equipment onboard
You must check the compatibility list of each solution. It has to do with the interoperability of the data acquisition devices with the equipment and the measurement instruments onboard. The compatibility list should be long enough to cover the needs of the whole fleet at the present state as well as in the future.
8. Data enrichment and integration with 3rd party sources
Apart from the data collected onboard every shipping company has multiple other scattered data related to the vessels, such as noon reports, PMS data or data from the company ERP. Solution providers that can offer integration of onboard data with all these scattered data, provide significantly higher potential for better in-depth analysis and an end output of more value. The value can be multiplied even more if there is an additional option for enrichment with data from external sources such as weather and AIS data.