Even when data is wrong, it is still right.
Data today can be, and needs to be, manipulated according to Finnish data company Eniram, which provides solutions for monitoring and analysing fleet performance. Jan Wilhelmsson, Eniram’s Vice President of Commercial Shipping believes that accepting data is wrong is ok.
While there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of shipborne sensors on a vessel, there remains uncertainty over their reliability. In his opinion this sensor data will never be completely correct. Wilhelmsson believes that if it is accepted that data is wrong by default then a system must be built up that handles the data in a way that allows the analysis of ever more information.
He says that once you have enough data and once the values change you can see what you can do and fix it. Wilhelmsson points out that data analysis is not necessarily about reading absolute values from the sensors, but understanding any indications of change over time.
Director of Digital Solutions and Innovation at DNV GL, Albrecht Grel, agrees to some extent and says that industry needs to be careful when it comes to sensor technology. sensors are critical, he says, but we cannot blindly trust them.
The issue is making sure companies understand that a new way of thinking about the information is needed says Grel. He believes that real value will be provided from discovering data anomalies and inconsistencies in the data rather than thinking the data is always spot on.
Not so big after all
Creating value from vast amounts of data, often called big data, requires the right tools and the right competencies.
The shipping industry has largely been focussed on generating ‘big data’ but the focus is now more on what can ultimately be done with this data to add value to operations.
Wilhelmsson argues that it is more about the way data is used and the mind set of those using it. He is confident that the future of data lies in using less to make smarter decisions. This requires real understanding of what the data shows so that it can be translated into meaningful value and turned into a successful management plan.
Generating this data is not so much of a problem as is understanding what to do with it. Too much data and too little analysis can lead to an overload of data without much meaning. Unlocking data’s potential is needed to improve efficiencies, but it is not always straightforward.
Grel believes that digitalising operations will only add value to data if company employees have the right technical capabilities to run the software. He is confident in the potential of data but says that it first needs to be unlocked by ensuring that a company has a core team of digital-ready and data-ready people.
After all, there is little point in having data without having the know-how or tools to use the data intelligently. It’s not always about generating huge amounts of data but more about having good quality data that can be analysed by people with the understanding to do so. Without good handling of data, the improvements made to operational efficiencies and its contribution to improved asset value will be limited.
Zen and the art of data
To obtain and understand uniqueness in the data the right mind set is required. Acceptance of change, of the power that data has and the different tools, skills and practices that are needed to assess large quantities of data is needed reports Allianz in its Smart Ships overview.
Bringing 50 years of experience in the aviation industry and current advisor to product safety of Airbus to the maritime industry, Harry Nelson agrees that an agile mind is crucial to take control of the phenomenal power that data generates. While he believes that data cannot be wrong or right, it puts a huge responsibility on those that are involved in it to drive management for better efficiency and safety in operations.
He is of the strong opinion that data must be blended with the human mind, weaknesses in the human system must be recognised and embraced in a data driven and digitalised world.