Is it too late for shipping to collaborate to improve?

In a second concept note for Fathom World, Mikael Lind and others ask if the benefits of digital collaboration seen in so many other industries have passed by actors in the shipping and port sector which have been slow to adapt to change, instead holding on to competitive siloed attitudes.

Lind et all are supporters of the Port Collaborative Decision Making (Port CDM) model, which has been adapted from a similar CDM model already in use in the aviation sector) where various business entities engaged in optimising the port call and turnaround of a vessel share critical information in a standardised way to improve efficiency.

To do so, they say that organisations need to become more comfortable with information sharing and trust rather than taking a competitive nature and remaining in silos.

“The question is whether the maritime sector is collaboratively mature or if current practices are so deeply rooted that the introduction of digitization rather dilutes and decreases cooperation jeopardizing the economics of the maritime sector. Because it took longer for the maritime sector than for other industries to adopt digitization, it might be that digitization empowers the wrong objective,” writes Lind and the others in the note sent to Fathom World.

“An unresolved question is whether the sector can take advantage of the potentials that digitization enables, or if different actors developing proprietary capabilities create an even more fragmented ecosystem, which would mean that the maritime industry moves away from the proven business practice of other industries”

Are the very traditional, conservative and competitive cogs of world trade too engrained in the port and shipping sectors to enable optimisation of port throughput and the whole logistics chain?

Lind et all argue that industry has not yet arranged itself to share data to enhance collaboration.  Standardised systems need to be added to create the opportunity for collaboration to be tested, to show that it can be beneficial. Collaboration releases data that may not be otherwise noticed, but that can then be shared.

“The winners are not the ones that are in possession of data; but the ones who can optimize for the good of the whole ecosystem. This is also a call for innovators to enter and enrich the maritime sector by offering new digital value-adding services,” write the team.

Standards that are used by otherwise competitive entities are needed of course, and the argument for this is that, first, there are examples already of standards being used in society, shipping and logistics, and here one can find route exchange format (RTZ), the ongoing development of a port call message format (PCMF), shipboard data (ISO/DIS 19847 & ISO/DIS19848) and ship reporting.

Lind argues that for success industry needs to identify that skilled collaboration requires digital proficiency. And a deeper acceptance that digitization can enable the maritime sector to take steps towards standardization and automation thereby becoming an attractive part in a holistic transport system.

Read the second concept note from STM here 

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