While industry and society feel the benefits of a digital world during the Covid-19 pandemic response, ship managers have been pushing the benefits of a digital transformation for a couple of years now, claiming it benefits their clients, their ships and the managers themselves. In an addition to our series profiling how ship managers have turned digital, Samantha Fisk spoke to Anglo Eastern.
Hong Kong based ship management company Anglo Eastern has been taking steps in order to stay ahead in the shipping industry and to also provide its customers with the most up-to-date services on the market.
Bjorn Hojgaard, CEO, Anglo-Eastern comments that: “We see the digital journey as the biggest stepping-stone in 20 years. 20 years ago we were putting in a training platform. This decade is about getting digital right.”
The company started its initial steps into digital in 2018, where it outsourced to get the digital expertise that it needed as it “decided we didn’t have the competencies in house”, says Hojgaard. Through 2018 the company developed its strategies toward digitalisation and in 2019 started to put in the first “building blocks”.
“Communication is changing. 90% of ships have broadband and in four to five years-time they will have the same type of broadband we have on land, which will revolutionise communications at sea”, highlights Hojgaard.
He notes that as communications improve how operations will be performed will also change with every ship becoming another office. He notes that with the current situation in the world with the Covid-19 pandemic this is also accelerating the use of these digital solutions and their capabilities.
One key element that Hojgaard explains with the adoption of digital solutions and how to integrate solutions with its people in that: “we are not divorcing people with products, we are considering how people work with the technology”, he explains.
He notes that there have been gaps in communication between the office, the charterer and the ship, with digital solutions these gaps get closed up as information can be shared amongst all of them. Other benefits that Anglo-Eastern is expecting to see that more mundane paperwork will get automated, freeing up crew time to do more productive tasks along with being able to make fact-based decisions for tasks such as condition maintenance.
Hojgaard explains that to enable this Anglo-Eastern has spent 2019 architecting the platform and solutions that it will use, which will be further developed this year and some of 2021 before it will fully implement. Over this time it is expecting to capture the data from the vessels that will then be able to be used for the solutions and for the platform and the solutions to be moved to the Cloud.
Hojgaard adds that: “It will be harmonised and standardised and will be managed by an IT tool, by using a ‘note’ for each vessel/office we will be able to manage maintenance and patches, etc easier.” Currently 200 people are working on developing the platform and solutions that will be used, along with working with names such as Wärtsilä, Oracle and JiBE.
“Wärtsilä is the only one that I’ve seen that integrates all systems”, Hojgaard notes about the companies choices to go with selected suppliers. He sees that digitalisation is an ongoing competence that is “continuously evolving”.
The advent of going digital will also mean that how Anglo-Eastern will also interact with third parties will also change with the technology. “What we will get out of it will be added value. Changes to the relationship between us and our ships once it is recorded in the cloud, it will be easier to share”, comments Hojgaard. Noting that by utilising digital solutions it will also make connecting to third parties and being able to tie in with their business better.
There is the question of cyber security that also comes along with digitalisation. For this Anglo-Eastern has opted to outsource this to cyber security provider Palo Alto. Hojgaard notes that for the companies digitalisation that it has opted to look out outside providers for their experience “as we don’t want to reinvent the wheel”.
Anglo-Eastern is well on its way to developing its digital future, but Hojgaard admits there is still a lot of learning to do along the way. “You always learn from setbacks and learning along the way. This is change management and something that we all need to work on”, he concludes.