Why real-time data is important for the maritime industry

More than 90% of world trade is in the hands of the international shipping industry. Each year, it transports more than 4,000 billion dollars worth of goods. For shipping lines, there is a lot of pressure to meet the schedule, protect cargo and crew and ensure profitability. And we can’t say it’s easy.

This interactive map of the world’s major shipping routes provides insight into the complexity of the industry. 90,000 ships pass each other to transport goods from one continent to another!

It is clear from this map that the shipping industry involves a complex transportation system. To complicate matters, ports and ships are also subject to the forces of nature, which are becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Thus, shipping companies must be able to adapt to changing situations and act quickly.

We believe, however, that with real-time big data analytics, the maritime industry can better manage these unexpected challenges.

What is Real-Time Big Data?

Big Data is a field that extracts and analyzes data from data sets that are too large or complex to be processed by traditional data processing application software. Real-time capabilities mean that this information is provided immediately after collection.

How does real-time Big Data help the maritime industry?

Maritime companies generate data from different sources and in several formats. Traditionally, this information is fixed, siloed and inconsistent. Exploiting this information takes time and is a major problem for shipping companies.

With Big Data tools, this influx of data is gathered and organized in a cloud-based system. It then analyzes and spits out relevant data in real time, which supports better decision-making. Nothing is left to intuition or chance, which opens up opportunities to increase efficiency.

Efficient maritime operations and logistics

Global operations and logistics, for example, become much more efficient with real-time data. Businesses can obtain information via GPS and RFID tags to help locate containers and vessels immediately. Data technology also helps synchronize communications to manage vessel arrivals, dockings and departures safely and efficiently. And in the event of an emergency, unavailability of manpower or terminal allocations, real-time data helps vessels plan their routes and speeds accordingly.

Due to climate change, this ability to pivot has never been more relevant. Although the interactive map above demonstrates that the global maritime industry is a well-oiled machine, ocean weather conditions (currents, waves and wind) are more unpredictable than ever. Real-time data streamlines decision-making and supports ad-hoc navigation to ensure businesses maximize returns.

Fuel efficient route

By having access to real-time observations of the state of the sea (currents, waves and swell), vessel operators can reorient according to current ocean and weather conditions while optimizing energy efficiency. Inefficient weather routing often results in increased time spent at sea, which not only disrupts and delays the supply chain, but can also increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

In addition to increasing travel revenue, fuel-efficient routes also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, supporting the latest GHG reduction strategy developed in 2018 by the International Maritime Organization. The initial strategy predicts that total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. What does 50% look like? As documented in this report, the IMO calculated that ships released 1.12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide the previous year, 2007. So we can guess that emissions need to be reduced by 560 million tons. metrics. This is equivalent to the emissions of 102 million cars!

So are we saying that real-time data helps reduce fuel costs and GHG emissions? Yes, yes we are. Not a bad day at the office.

Is real-time big data safe from cyber threats?

We hear this question a lot, and rightly so. The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) on board ships – and their connection to the Internet – creates an increased attack surface that requires better cyber risk management.

On the IT side, the risks of cyberattacks can be mitigated through the proper implementation of encryption techniques such as blockchain technology. From an operational perspective, IMO argues that effective cyber risk management should start at the senior management level, embedding a culture of cyber risk awareness across all levels and departments of an organization. . You can read more about this in BIMCO’s Shipboard Cybersecurity Guidelines.

Full speed ahead for the marine industry

Is it possible for the shipping industry to get bigger and better? More lucrative, while emitting less GHGs? We believe it.

Knowledge is power. By implementing real-time information into day-to-day operations, shipping companies are well placed to navigate whatever comes their way. And how this year has gone, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an edge over the unexpected.

Want to know what real-time data looks like? Take a look at Sofar Ocean’s public weather network dashboard, which offers real-time deep sea marine weather observation data from over 500 weather sensors worldwide!
Source: Sofar Ocean