RightShip chief executive Steen Lund shares his thoughts on why data is the key to unlocking a better future for shipping
If any positives can be taken from the past 12 months, it is the rapid, necessary adoption and development of digital solutions and technology. With remote audits and inspections, to digitalisation of flag and class society data and processes, the industry is starting to see a huge acceleration in using data as an asset for business change.
To make operational and industry improvements, all players need tangible knowledge on how to make those changes in an accurate and achievable way. Efforts from the Digital Container Shipping Association, the Singapore Shipowners Association, the Singapore MPA, committees at IMO and many more are all trained on radically increasing the amount of useable data available to the sector, as well improving as our combined ability to analyse it and fuel insightful and intelligent decision making.
The potential applications of data to improve the industry’s operations are practically endless. With accurate and reliable data, RightShip has proven that meaningful safety and environmental improvements can be generated. Meanwhile, set against the backdrop of a growing industry awareness, these improvements are increasingly becoming a commercial differentiator for owners looking to distinguish themselves.
These improvements are only possible because of the insights that can be unlocked from shipping’s vast data resource. As more people see these potential insights – and a light is shone on the collective safety performance of vessels across our industry – more stakeholders become actively engaged in the process of progress.
This is one small illustration of how, in a short time, data can generate a benefit for the whole industry – and that owners, charterers and crew all unlock meaningful operational, safety and environmental efficiencies.
We believe this trend is one of the most impactful in our market at the present time, and we are only likely to see a further acceleration as the light at the end of the tunnel that is the Covid-19 pandemic approaches.
To support the use of data in decision-making applications, RightShip is imminently launching our new Safety Score – a benchmarking indicator that combines multiple data sets to give a view on historical safety performance.
We believe that data, and interpreting this information in indicators like our Score, can truly help every party in the maritime supply chain. Owners can understand how to improve the safety of the vessels and charterers have a clear view of their potential market as they look to improve safety, sustainability and seafarer welfare within their supply chains.
Improving industry safety is about looking at the industry as a whole and understanding how to make changes that will bring a tangible impact to everyone. It is crucial that we find ways to use data and new technologies to encourage more players to move from the middle of the market – where compliance is rightly seen as necessary but can often be the maximum effort expended – to recognise the commercial benefits of being truly exemplary across safety, sustainability and welfare.
However, there still remain challenges. Collaboration and standardisation are needed to ensure the industry as a whole is not digitally fragmented.
Currently, there is no standardisation of the outputs from audits, surveys, inspections or vessel vets across the industry. This is a significant challenge, with many organisations using different approaches and providing their findings in different formats.
While work is already progressing in this area driven by groups such as the MPA of Singapore, it is vital that the industry standardises hardware, software and processes at a faster pace. For example, consider a ship manager that works with multiple class societies. How would they even begin to approach seamlessly collating data to the level where insights could be generated, much less generate those insights remotely?
Meanwhile, shipowners need more solutions given the current and growing set of regulatory and industry demands being placed on them. From the remote inspections that were triggered throughout 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, to IMO’s 2030 and 2050 targets, there is a huge need for yet further improved technologies that help shipowners and operators become safer, more efficient and more sustainable.
As a data-led organisation, we believe we have a key role to play in helping all aspects of the industry use data intelligently to generate change. RightShip have chosen to take a leading hand in contributing to the standardisation of data and outputs and to play our part in guiding the industry’s digital adaptation, at a time when it is most needed.
All the indicators are that we are on the cusp of yet further transformative change for our sector. The events of the last 12 months have radically changed the timeframe for technological evolution. Just as within our personal and professional lives we have all adapted and taken advantage of technology to connect to each other over the miles, shipping is now taking advantage of the radical improvements that data can offer. We must all work together to ensure we build the right framework for a smarter, safer, more sustainable shipping industry.