Like other industries, the shipping industry is also going through a data revolution. Every day, the shipping lines transfer huge volumes of cargo, including containers, crude oil, petroleum products, gas and dry bulk commodities, catering to a growing global demand. Consequently, the industry needs to manage humongous databases of varieties of cargo shipped on a daily basis, with different freight rates, fleet sizes, vessel position data among others.
The shipping industry plays a crucial role in the Indian economy as a majority of the nation’s trade is done via sea. According to a recent report by the ministry of shipping, the recorded cargo traffic is 1,052 million metric tons (MMT) in 2015, is expected to reach 1,758 MMT by 2017.
Most shipping companies have only a few analytical resources, which lead to several problems, such as inaccurate data analyses and unreliable market reports. Unconventional market fluctuations and the increase in customer demands are driving changes in the way shipping industry is currently doing business in the country. Infrastructure constraints and cyber threats associated with new technology adoption are also challenging the way industry players are currently approaching both asset optimization and customer relationships.
For shipping companies to benefit from these changes, there is a growing need of accurate usage of predictive analytics and big data.
According to Anjan Deb, GM-IT (CIO) at The Great Eastern Shipping Company, this technological change will require a shift in the mindset. He says, “The whole shipping industry is moving at a very slow pace. Although the data is big, the amount of analytics being used for understanding the data is way less than it should be.”
He further adds, “However, to stay benefited in such a competitive environment, we have developed a few analytical tools for fuel checking, weather monitoring, checking engine factors and speed—in a whole, running the ships in an efficient way.”
Also read: Indian oil and gas industry embraces predictive analytics
Bala Meshram, Senior Vice President-IT at Shipping Corporation of India says that it is becoming very difficult for organizations to sustain with the legacy as the business environment is getting competitive.
“Due to unfavorable conditions around, there is an increase in customer demand and the cost of shipping cargo is also increasing. We regularly deal with a huge amount of data, and to ease our business operations and challenges we use analytics,” says Meshram.
He elaborates, “We have arrangements with other shipping lines, and with assistance, we get our ships scheduled, and check if the climatic conditions are favorable enough for trading. We also use analytics for analyzing market changes, making reports, and checking finances.”
The IT teams across the Indian shipping companies are intensifying the use of real-time data to make crucial business decisions, albeit gradually.
CIO of Safexpress, Anjani Kumar says “Often the shipments get stuck or get delayed due to the lack of proper decision-making, therefore we enabled our workforce to take data-driven decisions with analytics, which in turn helps manage the shipments effectively.”
“We wanted to make data and technology driven decisions instead of experience-based decisions and assumptions,” Anjani adds. To achieve this, the company used an enhanced analytical ERP system to track real-time fleet movement.
Also read: Analytics is set to transform commodity trading in India, albeit gradually
Naresh Hingorani, Associate Partner at IBM Business Consulting Services observes that the Indian shipping industry is becoming more dynamic due to greater competition, shifting ocean carrier alliances, need for better insights and faster decision-making, growing customer sophistication, and demand for improved visibility and performance.
“Companies now are bolstering their strategies to confront the opportunities and challenges that big data and analytics are presenting to the shipping industry. Using real-time weather data feeds, RFID-equipped shipments, GPS navigation, real-time tracking of goods, companies are aiming to transform their business operations,” says Hingorani.
Indian shipping industry has only recently begun its journey of discovering how predictive analytics and big data can impact business. In the coming years Indian shipping lines would find ways to experiment with analytics, find new opportunities and increase business efficiencies.