Interview: Bahri Sees Huge Opportunities for Innovation in Big Data

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A shipping company has many assets, which include ships, people, operational, commercial, technical expertise and its “Data”. The Maritime industry is believed to be generating an estimated 100 – 120 million data points each day which equates to terabytes of Data that can fill out Big Data centers. Buried in this data is commercial and operational intelligence, and actionable insights, which present an opportunity for any operator to achieve optimal operational efficiency and enhance shareholder value.

Big Data has made a significant impact in many industries such as finance, internet, media, telecom, healthcare; however, the approach to data-driven operations, its adoption and impact in the maritime industry has been progressing at a relatively slower pace.

Any company in any given industry has the chance to improve its performance by 5-10%, if not more, by using Big Data, Anwar Siddiqui, Advisor to the CEO of Bahri, the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia told World Maritime News.

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According to Siddiqui, Big Data remains untapped in the shipping industry, therefore there are huge opportunities for innovation, usage, driving optimal performance, and leveraging assets better.

The company’s Big Data Platform aims to deliver real time data driven solutions at the fingertips of its executive decision makers, managers, charterers, voyage managers and ship superintendents with actionable insights to empower them to make informed decisions.

“If you look at companies of our size, and other larger shipping conglomerates that produce a lot of data, I do not think any industry or any company of such a size can avoid looking at their data to achieve better operating efficiencies,” he said, adding that Big Data also has a secondary market such as customers, insurers, financiers, people who provide bank loans, and customers who rely on shipments, as “there is an enormous need to bring Big Data into a shipping company. “

At this time, there are only a handful of players, mostly large ones, dealing with Big Data. Siddiqui said that the industry is at an early adopters stage as this technology is gradually being recognized and deployed across the industry.

He believes that if the industry wants to move from this stage, it needs more than just innovation and capabilities, “it needs to have a broader ecosystem which includes not just the shipping companies, but also the equipment providers, service providers, the ports, the suppliers, the customers, the customs etc.,” as the industry needs more collaboration, in terms of working closely toward sharing the technology, the information, and the commercial framework.

From Bahri’s perspective on Big Data in general, the company is at the height of innovation right now and it is spending time developing several Big Data models and building capabilities, which will contribute to saving money, improving customer efficiency, enhancing chartering, and increasing revenue as well as the asset life or efficiency.

This program improves financial value, such as profit margin advantages, it provides operational efficiency, better utilization of voyage days, as well as reduction of ballast days, which in turn frees up capacity, Siddiqui said.

Furthermore, the Platform is being used to look at condition based management, how to improve safety and quality, and investigating possible gaps where failure could arise.

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When asked about the role of Big Data on the road to smart ships, Siddiqui said that “smart ships is a journey, not a destination, and Big Data is a tool along that journey.”

He added that, in the Sheridan’s Automation scale where 10 being the transformation that allows fully automated smart ships, where machines do everything without human interventions, is not expected to come overnight due to the complexity of the shipping industry. However, automation is a big drive in the industry and Bahri is also building up capabilities today where computers offer suggestions and humans approve them.

As one of the world’s foremost logistics and transportation companies contributing to the transformation and growth of the global shipping industry, Bahri said that any industry that wants to scale up in any area has to take the approach of open innovation and collaboration. Therefore, the company said that it is investing in partnerships, remaining open to contributing and working with the industry in relation to Big Data.

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