Samantha Fisk continues the three part insight into the latest digital technologies being used by ship managers that are spearheading much of the new use of digital solutions
Looking for the best option of how to digitalise is one element that shipowners are looking at when adopting new digital solutions, whether this technology is developed from the company itself of expertise brought in, both have their advantages, highlights Graham Westgarth, CEO, V. Group.
Collaboration and information sharing is central to the solutions that are being adopted and to do this platform frameworks are being utilised to allow for better sharing of information, as Westgarth explains: “ShipSure 2.0 is at the heart of our digital strategy. This platform was entirely developed by V.Group, and is designed specifically to capture and support all ship management activities. It allows seamless co-ordination and information sharing between V.Group’s worldwide teams and gives owners an unparalleled level of insight and control over their operations.”
One of the key driving principles behind ShipSure 2.0 is the integration of data into the day to day operation of a vessel, “we see the potential to offer a much higher value service to the owner if managers can use data to optimise a ship’s commercial performance.” By using live dashboards and metrics allows the company to monitor the quality of data being entered. Using the platform means that whether you’re working with a charter party or monitoring engine performance, all of this can be done through the platform and has benefits for both the company and the customer.
“This means that there will never be a situation where a customer is looking at different datasets to the manager,” Westgarth explains, “It means that owners can track budgets and opex in real time, and crew do not have to spend time translating data from one system to another.”
However, the implementation of such a change in technology does come with its challenges and in the case of digitalisation, the human element is one of the biggest challenges so far, as Westgarth notes: “The biggest challenge, and also the most significant opportunity for us, is the combination of the digital and human elements – turning this data and insight into real wisdom.”
The company opted to invest internally for its digital strategy, as Westgarth explains: “When we first initiated ShipSure 2.0, we looked carefully at whether it made most sense for us to build something ourselves, acquire a business, or develop something with a third party. Ultimately, we made the decision to invest significantly in the capability and expertise to develop something with our internal resources.”
The decision came from being able to build something that was based around what its owners need to track, what they cared about most and something that could be integrated in to all aspects of the business.
Westgarth notes that the advantage of ship managers is that they can shape behaviours onboard to be able to get data collected accurately and turn insights into action, as he explains: “The biggest challenge, and also the most significant opportunity for us, is the combination of the digital and human elements – turning this data and insight into real wisdom.”
Although implementing the new digital structure has seen a few learning curves for the company with a significant set-back earlier this year. “It’s true to say that we have undergone a period of significant investment in technology and extensive restructuring of our crewing organisation, which may for a time have meant we became too internally focused,” as Westgarth explains.
However, Westgarth now opines that the company is in a better position to be able to serve its customers with a first-class service through the platform that it has implemented. This means that the fleet cells, which deliver the service to its customers, are better equipped to be more responsive and more autonomous. Looking to the future Westgarth comments that the vision of the company is to provide a service that uses both local knowledge and expertise and global leverage and support.
Westgarth notes that there is a lot of investments and acquisitions in digital expertise in the market at the moment, but: “ For the shipping industry, this has potential to be a force for positive change, but there are caveats – we need to make sure that we build on existing seafaring expertise, particularly around safety-critical issues, and also ensure that where possible we can standardise and share data, rather than ending up with hundreds of competing systems that can’t communicate with one another,” he says.
Digital Ship Management Review
Further parts of this series to be developed shortly