Clocking more than $20 trillion in global trade per annum, the global maritime logistics industry is the second largest in the world, next to the oil and gas industry. It supports 90 percent of the global trade, but if you compare it with airline or road logistics in terms of innovation and technology, it’s almost a decade behind.
The term ‘Ship 4.0’ or ‘Maritime 4.0’ is now being used by global shipping companies as they go about leveraging data, live situational awareness and analytical insights to boost the sector’s potential. Now vessel owners, operators, charter parties are actively looking beyond Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions or homegrown systems and can see inside their ships, predict machinery in action, track crew health through remote sensors and create a uniform source of truth that the industry desperately needs.
Sensing the lack of buzz about these technologies in the Indian market, Joy Basu and Captain Harminder launched Smart Ship© Hub in 2019 and are building a remote vessel and fleet management, leveraging live sensor data and process data for trusted business intelligence and analytics services for ship owners and ship managers in the country.
Working at the heart of the ship’s automation
Smart Ship Hub does for ships and any floating object what avionics does for aircrafts. The digital platform uses sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to help fleet owners, operators, charter parties, ports, insurers, ship suppliers, brokers and agents track, monitor, control and predict multiple operational parameters. Smart Ship Hub’s digital platform upgrades any ocean-going vessel, including merchant vessels, naval vessels, cruises, yachts, oil rigs, fishing vessels within two days for a range of remote management processes across operational, technical and commercial workflows.
These include managing the expected times of arrival, port communication, energy management in the vessel and fleet, business intelligence for ship management processes, analytics and trends for vessel consumption areas, reliability and predictability of machinery performance and a central repository of live data servicing each entity, through its Digital Tower (Network Operations Center).
Smart Ship Hub’s clientele comprises both Indian and global companies including Orion Ship ( Singapore) , Fleet Management Ltd.( Hong Kong), Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd. (India), the Indian Navy, Nova Ships (Singapore), Seven Island Shipping (India), among others. Customers have consistently seen up to 5 percent savings in fuel utilisation, 15 percent on operational costs and up to 35 percent savings on shore operations. Ship owners have been able to increase asset reliability by 30 percent, helping them charge premium from the charter parties by showcasing remote management capabilities.
One of Smart Ship Hub’s clients is a prominent owner of Bulkers and Tankers, headquartered in Singapore, with offices in London, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia and has 20 vessels under the Smart Ship Hub’s digital platform. They get live updates from vessels about navigation, weather, engine performance, fuel consumption, emission and exhaust, cargo condition and multiple other actionable intelligence on operational and technical KPI’s. This enables instant decision making w.r.t adjusting vessel speed and navigation parameters in case of external conditions such as wind/ sea swell, strong currents while adhering to ETA plans which have substantial trade impacts.
All stakeholders, including vessel owners, ports, fleet operators and supplier agencies and other teams in the maritime ecosystem are well informed about the voyage and trade specifics. In this way, the vessel owner is continuously saving on fuel, ETA , claims settlements, port expenses and overall expenses in maintenance processes.
Standing out in an ocean of global players
Although Smart Ship Hub is the only B2B maritime digital platform in India providing on-demand cloud services, it is competing against three large players from Europe, Greece and Singapore.
Smart Ship Hub’s deep engineering and automation capabilities came in handy when it had to pivot and made it affordable by innovating the technology architecture with a flexible SaaS model.
“Our focus on adding direct value, by giving metrics to monitor cost savings and operational efficiencies scores better than our competitors. We are the only maritime digital company that covers most use cases under its predictive diagnostics services, while making it affordable even for organisations with a fleet size as small as 10 vessels,” says Joy Basu, Co-founder and CEO, Smart Ship Hub.
It is also the only organisation with an offering of Zero CapEx investment, which means clients need not pay anything to get the platform installed and commissioned. They can start paying a monthly subscription once the platform is active, installed and commissioned.
The company was also one of the few to be part of ‘Rainmaking Accelerator’, which opened up multiple possibilities to work with globally leading maritime companies such as Mitsubishi, Vale, Wilhelmsen for industry-sponsored projects .
Getting on board the Cisco LaunchPad partnership
Smart Ship Hub’s use cases of remote video-based maintenance and inspection, remote management, condition & health monitoring and predictive diagnostics got them to partner with global leaders such as Cisco.
Cisco technology powers communication and network across 4,000+ ports in the world and once brought under Smart Ship Hub’s digital network, it can potentially service all vessels coming in and going out of these ports. The partnership enabled quick go-to-market and the creation of a global support network across all these ports will be strategic to the growth of Smart Ship Hub.
“The team driving Cisco LaunchPad is enviably committed and focused on the success of its cohort companies. We are glad that we have the attention of global leadership which is why we are extremely sure of the outcomes from this exercise. We have already started making customer pitches,” says Joy.
Cisco LaunchPad and Smart Ship Hub have put together a short term and long term plan in place. The former covers tech stack integration for Cisco global sales and solution team along with pitching it to companies managing cruises and ferries. The latter is to include Digital Tower and data centre services to be offered globally for the maritime value chain.
Creating remote access for maritime in the new normal
At the beginning of 2020, the maritime industry experienced major shifts. With global maritime services being the backbone of logistics, Smart Ship Hub helped address challenges in the sector by removing the need for physical visits for inspection or scheduled maintenance. It enabled remote access for all aspects from tracking and monitoring the fleet to managing surveys, audits, changing of spare parts and even handling of cargo. Smart Ship Hub platform manages health and condition of ship’s machinery, cargo, crew while predicting key performance metrics.
Predictive diagnostics and ship health monitoring is helping customers accurately predict maintenance requirements, spare parts changes and fuel consumption. Also, reports are automated, eliminating the need for port authorities to inspect processes.
“The pandemic made shipping companies realise the value of remote management. COVID-19 has shortened customer acceptance life cycle and decision-making for digital tech down to 30 days from earlier upto 5 months . For Smart Ship Hub, it helped us build faster on our competencies and roll out across multiple global ports,” says Joy.
The journey so far and roadmap ahead
The bootstrapped company has so far tracked, monitored and managed 3,000+ parameters with data telemetry every 10 seconds for each vessel . The founders expect to see revenues of $4.5 million in this financial year and are gearing up to contribute towards the SagarMala Programme, an initiative by the government of India to develop the country’s coastline, waterways and maritime sector.
“Most of our customers are from Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and the UK. However, with a strategic partnership with one of the ship registries, Smart Ship Hub’s ‘Connected Vessels’ platform will offer shared capacity for all ocean-going and coastal vessels along with sharing of routes, weather information, maintenance schedule and more,” says Joy.
Going forward, Smart Ship Hub is going to leverage data from its fleet for shared services and bring in at least 600 vessels to launch multiple other on demand cloud services. ‘Digital Tower’ or ‘Network Operations Center’ will disrupt the global maritime logistics process by centralising the value chain and putting a series of control features that will drive efficiencies and optimisation across the chain.
“Digital Tower has the potential of optimising manpower utilisation up to 70 percent, leading to substantial cost savings across fleet management, response time and commercial processes. It also acts as a 24×7 support centre for ships to get instant feedback, updates and necessary instructions,” says Joy.
He adds, “Voyage-related documentation can often range from 300 to 700 pages. With automation, all the information is available on dashboards and as on-demand reports. Digital Tower will in future publish trends, methods, best-case scenarios, advisory solutions and a range of shared cloud services for all vessels under Smart Ship Hub digital network.”