Hapag-Lloyd is establishing a central control tower to manage the schedules of its fleet of ships.
Previously, there was nobody responsible overall to decide if ships should sail faster or slower, skip a port or ‘cut and run’ (leave port on time, without late arriving cargo). The instructions came from the nearest area to the individual ship.
Hapag-Lloyd senior director of corporate development Pyers Tucker says “Local decision makers do not have access to all of the downstream consequences on a roundtrip. Therefore, we are putting in place a control tower where people can access all the relevant information quickly and make the right decisions for the whole organisation, rather than just locally optimised ones.”
He emphasises that “digitalisation is absolutely key” to establishing the control tower. “The way forward is to connect lots of different data streams in different formats from different sources, combine them in an automated way and present the information to the control tower team so they can quickly make good decisions.”
Hapag-Lloyd has piloted how to achieve this for nine months and is building the software and user interfaces. It is estimated that it will take two to three years to roll out.
Highlighting the benefits that Hapag-Lloyd and its customers will reap, Mr Tucker says, “It will help significantly with on-time shipments, as it means that if things go wrong, we can identify this earlier and make better decisions much more quickly about what to do about it and keep customers informed appropriately.”