How Big Data Analytics Helps Transform Shipping and Port Operations

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In an era of trade liberalization, there exists an increasingly free exchange of commodities and goods among the different nations of the world. Restrictions like tariffs and volume of trade quotas that were so common in the past are now being reduced in many places across the globe. These afford numerous benefits, like lowering the costs of products for consumers and spurring domestic firms to raise their standards of production and quality to maintain their competitive advantage.

However, in order to encourage investments to keep flowing into their countries, many governments around the world are working hard to improve ease of doing business within their areas of jurisdictions, and they’re also banking on continued infrastructural development to ensure that physical commodities and goods are funneled efficiently to where they are needed. Thus, it’s worth noting that ports—as well as the ships and the trucks that course through them—are at the vanguard of this global endeavor to build an interconnected world that can give us everything we might ever need at the touch of a button.

Growing Challenges, Smarter Solutions

Since the beginning of the current century, the shipping and logistics industries have been adopting more and more smart solutions in order to revolutionize their operations. While it is often the case that these sectors are seen as industries that have traditionally been slow in terms of embracing novel ideas, the reality is that the world’s supply chains will not be running like clockwork today were it not for the innovative technologies that that they are now taking advantage of. Naturally, the primary impetus for the adoption of such technologies has been the immense volume of cargo loads that shipping and logistics organizations have had to carry year after year. Presently, the total volume of goods and commodities that are distributed globally is still increasing.

More Efficient Cargo Tracking through Data Analysis

The shipping and logistics ecosystem today has also become so much bigger in scope than ever before. These days, aside from ship operators and port authorities, there are many other players and stakeholders that have become spokes on the wheel of this ecosystem, and these include cargo companies, trucking companies warehousing companies, road operators, rail operators, and even barge operators. And at the core of what these entities do is the exchange of information, which is primarily carried out for the tracking of assets within the chain of operations.

The tracking of cargo is of ultimate importance because it can help shipping and logistics organizations know whether they are achieving optimal operational efficiency, and their clients or customers further down the chain of operations will be better informed about the status or state of the commodities or goods that they have requisitioned. Moreover, the data obtained can help industry players to pinpoint actual and potential pain points in the system, allowing them to identify the causes and effects of problems that can have tremendous impact on their bottom lines. By predicting problems, they’ll be in a better position to avoid them in the future, and they can rely instead on safer and more dependable cargo handling and transfer options.

To make all this possible, shipping and logistics companies typically rely on real-time data analytics and integration tools that help them handle and analyze large volumes of data coming in from various sources.

Optimizing Vessel and Vehicle Operations

Shipping and logistics operations are fraught with numerous challenges. Often shipping vessels, trucks, and other vehicles are the mercy of the weather conditions and instances of force majeure. Thankfully with the help of an array of data-driven instruments like Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, GPS devices, and automated systems, shipping and logistics companies are better able to adapt to these challenges.

They are, for example, able to predict and prepare for natural elements like weather conditions, water levels, and wave and current conditions, and they are able to receive real-time updates regarding inefficiencies like port congestions, bad traffic conditions, and road accidents in order to make appropriate, immediate, and cost-saving decisions.

Clearly, by implementing smart initiatives, port authorities, ship operators, and all their logistics partners are able to operate more efficiently and save tremendous amounts of financial resources. Ports today have become—in their own right—not only centers of commerce and trade but centers of data and information as well.

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