Maritime Digitalization: Expectations vs Reality

Sep 16, 2022 | Blog

There’s no doubt that digitalization can create value for shipping companies, but their initial expectations about Maritime digitalization don’t always match up with reality. Digitalisation involves more than just choosing and installing a software solution, so let’s break down some common misconceptions about what is involved.  

Expectation: one software product will solve every problem for each company

Reality: a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable for everyone

Not all generic software solutions will fit a particular shipping company’s needs. Assuming that the needs of every company and every ship can be met by a single universal solution can lead to frustration for everyone involved, from the boardroom to the cadets and everyone in between.  

Instead of searching for the “holy grail” that would solve all their problems at once, companies should look for a solution (or set of solutions) that will be adapted to their specific fleet and operational patterns. This will be key to helping companies build resilience in the face of growing unpredictability in shipping, with major variations in operations depending on charter contracts, bunker prices, weather, and port delays, to name just a few. There are also longer-term factors, such as new regulations and developing ESG goals, making it very unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will be successful in the long term. 

Expectation: the digital transformation is technology-driven

Reality: Digitalization is people-driven 

A shipping company can choose the most comprehensive software solutions available, but people remain the ones making decisions and making digital projects successful. Digital solutions can’t deliver results without people. On the one hand, the human expertise of the Opsealog team is essential to “make sense of the data”, and understand it in the specific context of the company, fleet, and operational challenges.  

The human factor is also a key element on the client’s side, as people drive change and ensure the smooth implementation of new solutions. As digital solutions are implemented, users should be front and center. We need to listen to their concerns, understand their challenges, and make sure that digital solutions are there to support their work, not the other way around.  

This point is demonstrated by our ongoing collaboration with ADNOC Logistics & Services (ADNOC L&S) to optimize the operations of its offshore fleet. Opsealog’s Streamlog, an onboard reporting solution, and Marinsights, a performance management application that is driven by multiple data sources, including Streamlog, have been deployed on over 70 vessels, resulting in fuel consumption reductions of 12% since the project started. 

However, it wasn’t simply a matter of considering factors such as vessel speed and engine management to achieve this result. Vessel practices were constrained by safety policies, and the project teams needed to understand current practices from the perspective of the crews and the personnel on the offshore platforms the vessels serviced. While enhanced communication and optimization of vessel speeds did improve efficiency, the Opsealog and ADNOC L&S teams worked together to ensure that the changes implemented did not compromise safety or delay operations. 

Expectation: digitalization will be welcomed with open arms 

Reality: not everyone will be on board maritime digitalization

The people in charge of digital projects may understand their benefits, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. The reality is that shoreside office staff and crews already have to deal with multiple digital interfaces. They often had to undergo training to master these, and they may be reluctant to have to start over again. These digital solutions are also updated routinely, sometimes confusing until new workflows are established. This can create frustration and resentment about new solutions.  

So, software solutions for daily reporting onboard vessels should not add to seafarer workload by forcing them to replicate data collected across multiple interfaces. The software should instead facilitate and optimize data entry whilst also mitigating errors. From there, the data should be able to be integrated and shared automatically, saving time and mitigating errors for shoreside personnel as well. 

To ensure this, we need to focus on user experience. Investment in design is essential to ensure that users feel comfortable and familiar with the different KPI reports they are provided with. This will create trust between the data integrator and the company and enable the right organizational culture, in which users are open-minded and willing to test new solutions and new methods of working. This dialogue will also help ensure that solutions are adapted to the operational constraints and realities on board. 

Expectation: that digitalization is a one-time effort

Reality: Digital Transformation is a long-term journey that requires continuous effort  

Maritime Digitalization is a long-term strategy – whether a company digitizes its financial operations or implements internet of things (IoT) functionality to machinery onboard its ships. While it might be tempting to think that digital solutions are plug-and-play and can deliver results instantly, the transformation goes beyond software, deep into the company’s culture. Companies can feel some benefits immediately, but the long-term change holds the most significant potential.  

Collecting data and integrating it smartly is only the beginning of a process that enables companies to understand their fleets thoroughly, identify inefficiencies and act on them. And in our fast-changing industry, they need a clear understanding of market developments as they anticipate challenges and prepare their organizations for the future. 

Reality check 

Maritime digitalization brings immediate and long-term benefits, and shipping companies should prepare their fleets and crews for a more connected and transparent future. Soon enough, what now seems futuristic will become indispensable if companies remain competitive, so it is essential to take a reality check now. This will ensure the success of digitalization projects and build the foundation for future developments.  


GET IN TOUCH

Start Digitizing Now

Opsealog and Jackson Offshore Renew Contract for Fleet Digitalization

Image: Jackson Offshore Marseille, 16th April 2024 –Opsealog, a provider of data integration and analysis services for the maritime and offshore industry, announced today the extension of its partnership contract with Jackson Offshore Operators (JOO), a shipowner...

Engine Utilization Optimization: A Path to Cost and Emission Reduction in Vessel Operations

Discover how an Oil & Gas operator from the Middle East leveraged Opsealog’s solutions and achieved fuel consumption savings, minimized GHG emissions, and reduced maintenance requirements by optimizing engine utilization. Driving Maritime Excellence: At Opsealog,...

7 Underestimated Aspects of Fleet Digitalization

In the ever-evolving landscape of maritime operations, fleet digitalization has become a cornerstone for efficiency, safety, and sustainability. While many aspects of this transformative technology are widely acknowledged, several underestimated facts hold significant...

Cleaner Tech & Sustainability: Key to Shipping Decarbonization

The maritime industry stands at the nexus of global trade and environmental stewardship. Shipping companies, policymakers, and seafarers alike are recognizing the pressing need to pivot towards sustainable practices to preserve our planet's health. Committing to...

A closer Look at Monitoring and Reporting on Cable-Laying vessels.

From cargo ships to offshore support vessels (OSVs), the Maritime’s operational landscape is vast and complex. With vessels navigating infinite expanses, there is a growing need for efficient systems to collect, analyze, and report data accurately. Challenges include...

Navigating Vessel Optimization: Beyond Fuel, Exploring Underestimated Aspects in Data-Driven Strategies.

The pursuit of optimization in the OSV sector has long been centered on reducing fuel consumption and, in turn, greenhouse gas emissions. However, the digital revolution is reshaping this perspective, unveiling new dimensions of operational efficiency that go beyond...

Optimizing Ship Performance: Five Essential Steps to Harnessing Your Vessel’s Data in the Coming Year

Whilst maritime decarbonization targets are ambitious and will require action in the short term, the encouraging news is that there are clear steps that we can take today that will deliver immediate and significant fuel savings in OSV operations. What is more, these...

Key trends that defined the use of maritime data in 2023 – and what to expect in 2024

As OSV markets continued to recover after challenging years, progress in digitalizing the sector accelerated in 2023, with industry players realizing the importance of implementing data-driven solutions to track fuel consumption, emissions, and operational patterns....

Mooring Buoys and ship fuel efficiency

The maritime industry is a complex and challenging field, requiring both precision and innovation to achieve success. In this article, we will delve into the often-overlooked benefits of mooring buoys, which significantly reduce fuel consumption for Offshore Support...

Marine Biofuels: How data can support its implementation

Following our participation in the Blue Med Days in Marseille, it became evident that biofuels are getting increased attention in the maritime sector. With discussions around this topic intensifying, it's clear that biofuels can potentially play an important role in...