Tech Chats: Creating Data Analytics in the Shipping Industry
Our mission at Sea/ is to create digital solutions that bring greater efficiencies and benefits to our client base of owners, charterers and brokers. Sea/analytics is the latest addition to the Sea/ suite which gives our users the opportunity to harness data analytics in the shipping industry to anticipate market movements like never before. We sat down with Malay Trivedi, Business Development Manager, and Oliver Buchanan, Product Development Owner, to understand why Sea/analytics was created and the need for data analytics in maritime.
Ollie & Malay, when did the need appear for Sea/analytics?
As we began pulling together existing technologies to service analysts, we realised the demand for a central platform that would negate the need to run a dozen different spreadsheets and home in on specific scenarios in a very concise way.
As the availability of data has increased, trading in the commodities and freight market has become much more data driven, rather than instinct. The data available in Sea/analytics enables users to make faster, more informed, impartial decisions.
Rarely does anyone get such a high-level look into how the entire industry works. With a couple of clicks you can see the proportion of tanker trade to bulk trade, the waxing and waning of activity caused by world changing events such as COVID-19 or even the internal niggles of trade wars and rising Middle Eastern tensions.
With the knowledge that we were producing meaningful analytics we began to investigate how to increase the scope. Due to the nature of data from AIS (i.e., it being harvested automatically by satellites and sent through with no human intervention) we began tracking vessel movements pertinent to specific commodity sectors. Applying learned lessons and a whole suite of finely tuned logic, we quickly built-up trade flow models that neatly navigated the traditional, labour intensive model of physically tracking vessels and moved it to an automated geospatial vessel tracking solution.
So, what are the benefits that Sea/analytics can bring?
A computer works all hours of the day. This would mean that an analyst could get in first thing in the morning, no matter where they were in the world, and see the latest shipments as they happened.
Another benefit is the reliability and consistency. Sea/analytics brings transparency. Human only led reporting can introduce bias, under reporting, misleading information or out of date information being used. With a fully automated system you avoid these human errors and use technology to enhance the picture.
The sudden arrival of these powerful data models in an easy to digest format cemented Sea/analytics as a platform for reporting. It’s where you would come to receive the most up-to-date data relevant to your business, that you can interact with, drilling down to gain key insights and decipher trends that would not be obvious without the high-level overview.
And what makes Sea/analytics so special?
Dashboards have been a bit of a buzzword for a while now. The consistency and immediacy of the reporting tool has so many merits and a good dashboard should always allow you to answer the question in mind. In the last year we’ve seen a big shift in remote reporting of data, no longer can you turn to someone at your desk to ask for a quick snapshot, the answer is now to centralise this information in one place.
Sea/analytics provides users with detailed freight analytics, these complex models enable clients to track vessel congestion, utilisation, supply, speeds and more. Covering commodities such as iron ore, coal, grains and bauxite it gives users insight into both top level and granular data.
A lot of what makes Sea/analytics special is the quality of coding behind the scenes. Big data is a phrase that is thrown around almost hypothetically with most, but what people fail to realise is that it already controls a lot of the world around us. Sea/analytics is no exception to this. Every night millions of rows of data get processed for our users to be able to log on the next day and see the latest results relevant to them.
How does Sea/analytics differ to other data analytics software providers in the shipping industry?
As a new to market solution, Sea/analytics benefits from the latest innovations in data analytics while leaning on automated processes to ensure up to date information. Unlike many other analytical platforms, we don’t rely on manual inputting and curating of data. While in some places this has its drawbacks, the benefits to consistency and immediacy are paramount to receiving the most up to date data. Aside from the numerous technological qualities, it is underpinned with data curated by Clarksons Research – the world’s most authoritative provider of shipping intelligence.
What was the response like when Sea/analytics launched?
The feedback has been very positive, we secured a handful of clients early on who helped drive the development of different mini projects and allowed us to focus on areas that mattered to them. We still benefit from this structure, having covered a lot of the basics early on, we can now concentrate on client requests as and when they surface to continually improve the solution.
We quickly learned the importance of having a means to export the data and work with it in Excel. You begin to recognise the impact of this data, our clients wouldn’t be able to fulfill their day-to-day without it, and that gives a tremendous sense of satisfaction.
Our clients have reported time savings of about 3-4 hours every week since they now have all the information in one place pertaining to trade flows, freight and analytics related to contracts.
What are the biggest opportunities that Sea/analytics brings for customers?
Sea/analytics offers a way to visualise your data like never before, aggregating millions of rows derived from hundreds of millions of vessel transmissions, all presented in a small number of concise dashboards. Simple supply and demand models which use basic but key information such as the geospatial distribution of vessels, the speeds they are travelling at, whether they’re in port, being refitted or even stopped in the water allow users to gain insights into trading patterns and what the future may hold. That’s why we focus in on getting the data out as quickly as possible; why we’ve gone down the route of machine derived analytics and why we will continue to press for predictive and current movements of vessels. It provides our clients with a trusted and unbiased source of information, giving them the opportunity to make clear decisions based on up-to-date data.
What’s next on the roadmap for Sea/analytics?
Client feedback has always been the driver on our roadmap. Internally the team works with agility and prevision resulting in quick turnover of user requests. The most infamous of all was maybe only a month after launching we received a request to complete a coal commodity flow model ahead of their previous providers contract lapsing. 6 weeks later we had described the entire coal market with a precision of >95% and without hesitation it quickly became core to the platform .
There is plenty still to do. We have taken a big chunk out of the commodity spectrum by focusing largely on the major bulk market. As the maturity of the platform grows however so does the arsenal of data models produced. We are currently working on a way to describe multi load multi discharge commodities in an effort to map out certain areas of specialised products, a topic currently for the group. The utilisation of machine learning on vessel movements is always a hot topic and a changing landscape. There also expect there to be a surge in reporting of more admin focused tasks – understanding which entities return charter parties quickest, which customers are bidding highest for a deal and of course the thing that is at the top of my mind: the growing reality of how emissions will begin to play a larger role in shipping.
To find out more about Sea/analytics or request a demo below.