A problem shared (is someone else’s problem)

Shipping’s data and technology challenges apparently know no bounds. Just as the engine room is getting to grips with new levels of data capture and analysis, the bridge is coming under the spotlight. At issue is the noon report; the daily update from the master that owners, operators and charterers use to monitor the voyage and make commercial decisions.

Despite the megabytes of data that potentially fly back and forth between ship and shore, millions of dollars of shipping business still relies on a not always particularly accurate form of unstructured data transfer. In extreme cases its users cannot agree on basics like the name of the ship, the port or the cargo, which suggests some radical surgery is needed.

Modernising the noon report is an issue Great Circle has reported on before (http://greatcircle.co/article/high-noon-noon-report) and many software providers are looking at it. But just like precious performance data, the information that can be captured, edited and analysed is sensitive and commercial. It’s where shipping’s 21 century ambitions collide with its 200-year old business model.

This begs the question of whether standards could be developed to improve the format of the data exchange for common benefit while still allowing companies to differentiate commercially.

Mike Powell is head of operations for Union Maritime, the UK’s largest product tanker company and he has a problem. “Every one of our stakeholders believes they have the right to ask the ship anything and get a reply. I think the ship needs to concentrate on sailing so what I want is the reduction of operational complexity,” he told the Smart Solutions event in London.

He has a set of simple rules for data– automatic collection, verification by rule and routeing to all systems without intervention. But this is really more of a wish-list, since he hasn’t yet been able to find a vendor system able to meet his demands.

Read the full post here: http://greatcircle.co/article/problem-shared-someone-elses-problem

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