Since the beginning of time, international trade has served as the lifeline of human civilizations. Ships and the shipping industry have ensured this global trade remains alive and thriving.
Today, the maritime industry has a colossal 90% share of global trade. To be more specific, the overall value of the shipping trade in the world every year has reached over US$14 trillion annually.
Since the industry handles a mammoth amount of cargo, it’s only natural that it also generates tons of data. And as everyone knows, data is everything in the 21st century. Data allows business leaders to make decisions based on statistical numbers, trends, and facts. Data also helps companies identify the shortcomings they are dealing with, things that might go unnoticed if you look at the data alone.
Now that you know how much data the shipping industry generates, it’s time to learn more about big data and artificial intelligence and understand how important they are for the shipping industry that drives international trade.
What is Big Data?
What if someone tells you that there is a tool that can change how you look at and perceive your business? Would you believe there is a tool that has taken different sectors, including banking, healthcare, and finance, by storm worldwide?
Most shipping companies across the globe are currently adopting this tool, spearheading the next big revolutionary breakthrough that the entire industry has been eagerly waiting for. This tool is none other than big data.
Before diving into what big data is all about and its complexities. First, you must understand how data was once processed before modern data science existed.
Data has two major types that you usually see and encounter. These are non-traditional and traditional data, which depend on the specific area from which the data is acquired.
Big data condenses the data that arrives from the two sources, forming a centralized system where things are kept, analyzed, and acquired later on at the same time.
Once all the available details are associated with the centralized database, big data discovers the hidden patterns for making predictions in real-time. Big data also identifies the hidden patterns amidst the points that were probably missed when data was checked the traditional way.
The main question is how big data benefits the shipping industry. The following are some of the typical applications of big data and artificial intelligence in the shipping industry in these modern times:
Automated Analysis Helps Prevent Costly Mistakes
Imagine having a computer that keeps track of everything your shipping company has been doing for several years. Businesses of all shapes and sizes will always have some things to improve. The good news is that there will always be room to increase efficiency.
The system gets constant updates on why vessels get lost at sea, why containers are lost in storms on the high seas or in ports, congestion in ports because of excessive ships, delays due to container shortages, and more.
The big data contains all the small details on factors affecting the efficiency of the shipping industry. It can be used to your advantage for framing future decisions that help predict and avoid costly mistakes. In the process, it will allow the development of a more reliable supply chain.
Better Practices in Ship Design
The shipbuilding industry is among the primary beneficiaries of the rise of big data. Shipbuilders can quickly tell the changes they need to make or the steps they should take when they design a new vessel if they analyze the data from the ship’s sensor that was used in the past, for example, but went through some structural damage after some time.
The data acquired earlier can also help in testing a suggested ship design with no need to develop the ship or its prototype, for that matter, physically. It makes it a win-win situation for today’s shipping industry.
Ship Chartering Analytics for Better Performance
Ask any charterer, and they will surely tell you that one of their most difficult tasks is to find a suitable ship that can transport their cargo at the most affordable price.
This task mainly involves third parties such as popular shipowners and shipbrokers. It also means that a person must have plenty of reliable contacts to earn a profit ultimately.
The task also involves a considerable risk profile, and you might lose lots of money when things don’t go according to plan. Ships will only become more efficient if they are equipped with more technologies.
This is where big data enters the picture, backed and supported by real-time analytics that can readily offer charters with readily available, actionable, and authentic insights that can cause a significant improvement in decision-making.
There are also many other data regarding the vehicle you can get during extensive data implementation. These include AIS or Automatic Identification System information, market information, and vessel particulars like size, position reports, and estimated arrival times, all found in one place.
ETA Prediction and Vessel Route Planning
One of the most critical applications of big data involves the management of ship sensors and accurately predicting the ETA or Estimated Time of Arrival of vessels.
A better prediction of the ETA means fewer delays and a net improvement in the entire supply chain’s operational efficiency.
Proper cargo tracking is also necessary to ensure confidentiality and transparency in the shipping industry.
The best route, or the way that weather service agencies provide, in addition to the actual path that the vessel takes, can also be tracked in real time by both the shipowners and the concerned authorities.
It also becomes easier for shipowners to monitor any change in ETA, vessel speed, and other factors with the help of big data. This ensures the voyage will go according to the original plans and stay profitable. Artificial intelligence and big data, in general, is a game-changer for the shipping industry in the many years to come.