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Why You Should Harness the Power of Big Data in the Maritime Industry

Why You Should Harness the Power of Big Data in the Maritime Industry

Eve Jones

We’ve talked about maritime industry and marine tech buzzwords before in the Martide blog: from Artificial Intelligence to blockchain and from drones to smart ships. So why not take a look at big data we thought? Is it just another flash in the pan or is it actually on course to be changing the future and making waves in the shipping sector?

And more importantly, what is big data and what can it do for shipping companies that are interested in finding out how to use it to their advantage?

What is big data and why the maritime industry should harness its power

Much has been written about big data and we don’t want to get too technical - that’s best left to the tech guys! But at its simplest, unsurprisingly, this is a term that’s used to describe a huge amount of data. This data can be structured or unstructured. Structured data is, as the name suggests, data that has been organized - usually in a database - so it can be processed and analyzed.

Unstructured data on the other hand is exactly the opposite: information that hasn’t been processed or sorted.

neon blue sign saying Data has a better idea under window showing city skyline

What both structured and unstructured big data sets have in common is that their size, complexity, and often their speed makes them unwieldy to deal with. Traditional methods of processing data don’t work and so big data is a means of finding ways to handle, process, and analyze these vast amounts of intelligence.

It’s what you do with that data that counts

It’s all well and good having all this data but, as the saying goes, size isn’t everything. It’s what you do with that data once it’s been processed and made more manageable that really counts.

The whole point of big data, and where it can come in extremely useful for the maritime industry and for changing the future of the shipping companies that utilize it, is that it can be analyzed for deep insights that result in more informed decision making and strategic planning.  

Traditional data versus non-traditional data

In a pre-big data world companies relied on “traditional technology” to analyze the information collected from within their organization. Extracted from sources such as warehouses and including factors like transit time, fuel costs, revenue and wages, this data could be interpreted to calculate a voyage’s profit or loss margins.

Marine tech and big data techniques now make it possible to evaluate not just this traditionally-mined data, but also non-traditional data such as texts, videos, images, audio clips, and GPS and sensor readings.  

person using laptop while writing in notebook and looking at graphs and charts

How can big data help shipowners and managers?

Using big data techniques enables companies to propose preventive measures that can overcome problems. Literally changing the future. And for the shipping industry to become leaner and more operationally efficient it needs to harness this power of predictive analysis.

Through pattern finding and subsequent strategic planning, all aspects of maritime operations can be enhanced. From enabling a more secure environment to ensuring prompt deliveries, and from the accurate tracking of cargo to allowing on-the-spot decision making regarding terminal allocations, big data can turn this, and more, into reality.

Here’s another example: let’s say one of your vessels is heading straight for the eye of a storm. Not only could this be potentially dangerous, it will also be highly likely that delivery times will be adversely affected. This is where the shipowner or manager can employ big data to calculate the cost and viability of taking an alternative route.  

man in suit using laptop with charts and graphs on screen

Big data in the maritime industry: conclusion

Big data offers some serious advantages when it comes to running a tighter ship. Quite literally. Therefore it seems likely that this is one marine tech advancement that does have a future role to play in the maritime industry.

At Martide, we love technology. That’s why we created our applicant tracking system, recruitment streamlining and crew management software solution for shipowners and managers.

If you’d like to know how we can help you run a more streamlined operation, get in touch with us today.