Shipping companies are becoming reliant on digitalisation and satellite connectivity as they adapt working methods during the global coronavirus pandemic
Covid-19 has caused a major shakeup in shipping. Shipowners, operators and managers have redeployed their staff for remote working, increased use of cloud-based services, video conferencing and instant messaging to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.
Technology giants such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon reacted quickly by increasing their cloud services capacity and connectivity for remote working. Those with a specific focus on providing cloud-based shipping have also reacted to surging demand for remote access to data.
Hanseaticsoft, a provider of cloud-based management software for the maritime industry, has seen increasing demand for its cloud-based management system, Cloud Fleet Manager.
Hanseaticsoft managing director Alexander Buchmann said “requests for a demonstration of the software are skyrocketing” because of more people working remotely.
“In order to operate efficiently in the current Covid-19 situation, access to accurate and up-to-date data is crucial and we see shipping companies are aware of this,” Mr Buchmann commented.
“Now more than ever, a system that is easy to implement, makes data centrally available and is usable regardless of the user’s location, is vital for continued success.”
Digitalisation is building momentum in shipping companies. “Even though maritime has been faced with challenges, the last few weeks have proven it is possible to rethink processes and to modernise,” said Mr Buchmann.
This pace of digitalisation has accelerated since the coronavirus outbreak. “Even companies that have already digitalised are currently realising their technical solutions are not as sophisticated as they had hoped,” said Mr Buchmann, “and offer only partial solutions to problems or are based on technologies that are already outdated.”
Shipping companies with legacy management systems are replacing them with cloud-based systems.
These cloud solutions can be extended to ships with VSAT, Ku-band or Ka-band, communications. Pacific Gas, a growing Chinese gas carrier operator, upgraded its satellite communications to Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress, which includes Ka-band connectivity, for remote data access.
“The reliability of Fleet Xpress has allowed us to scale our digital activities and complement our new shipmanagement software we installed to help resource planning on vessels,” said Pacific Gas vice president for fleet management Captain Tao Yong.
Higher bandwidth and stable connections allow Pacific Gas to monitor operations remotely, using closed circuit TV for security. This has crew safety and security at its core.
Seamless satellite communications also facilitate more data flow across the gas carrier fleet as Pacific Gas adopts company-wide digitalisation.
“With real-time data exchange, vessels become an extension to our shore office,” said Capt Yong.
“We base our operational efficiency and performance gains on continuous monitoring and real-time upgrades and assistance,” added Capt Yong. Fleet Xpress is bringing a “quicker turnaround in operational decisions as shore offices and vessels are always connected” he explained, as commercial and technical demands rise with an expanding fleet.
Challenges and solutions for remote working and digitalisation will be discussed during Riviera Maritime Media’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week, 12-15 May 2020