Barbara Babati 03.04.2018 11 min read

Key Take-Aways from the Digitization of Ocean Shipping Webinar

Digitization of Ocean Shipping is a hot topic currently. Everyone is looking for the secret sauce that can give an edge to their operations to be more competitive than their peers. The fast growth of e-commerce provides an opportunity for the ocean shipping industry too for increasing revenue. However, exploiting the enormous economic value of the growth of e-commerce is challenging due to the inefficiencies that stakeholders in the maritime industry are facing. The industry needs to be able to digitize and automate their processes for more transparency and visibility and for operational efficiency.

It's a challenge for numerous reasons. Many are still using legacy technologies and that restricts them for efficiently sharing data. Cooperation across all players can be the key to success and the best way to improve collaboration is investing in data and system integrations.

iPaaS facilitates digitization

The webinar was shedding light on how our integration platform (iPaaS) can be a pillar for connecting any systems and applications in an agile and speedy way for real-time data sharing and more visibility.

Let’s take a deeper look at the three key topics discussed in the webinar.

How to integrate EDI backlogs quickly?

In our recent blogs, we have written a lot of EDI and how it is the cornerstone of global supply chain management - and so it is extremely important in ocean shipping, too.

Electronic data interchange is a synonym for business-to-business data sharing and it has been around for several decades. Nevertheless, many of the EDI processes are still inefficient, happen in batches, and hasn’t yet been moved to the cloud.

So, what is the problem with EDI backlogs? EDI backlogs state a challenge as the data that the ocean shipping industry is generating is growing at an unprecedented rate from sources as oceanographic data, data from sensors, buoys, vessels satellites, vessel schedules, status messages, invoices, etc. The backlogs are congregating due to the increasing need for communicating with partners, suppliers, manufacturers, customer, 3PLs, etc., but the messaging is inefficient and often does not happen in real-time but in batch processes.

Business-critical information sharing gets even more difficult as the data is coming from heterogeneous sources, such as databases, legacy systems, SaaS applications, or sensors. Connecting these different technologies and application can be a challenge on its own, especially if there are also firewalls to obstruct access.

To overcome a large number of backlogs, automate the transmission, and ensure timeliness of the data, there has to be an adequate technology that can connect different technologies and applications (even from different decades) and handles the transfer and the translation of the data. For example, many industry participants still heavily rely on EDIFACT and their own proprietary formats, therefore dealing with the data can be a challenge.

Track all events in real-time

Tracking of all events in real-time across all relevant processes for better visibility across is still a challenge. The implementation with hand coding is near impossible as the event data needs to be gathered from many different sources (when there are over 3 connections it's difficult to make changes without breaking something in the code) and the current applications or systems that are responsible for sharing event data are often sending it in batch processes or it is a manual process. Therefore, due to the delays in receiving information, the event data is often unreliable and cannot be properly utilized.

Sharing event data in real-time is even more difficult due to the variety of data formats stakeholders may use, as this complicates the processing of the information.


Extend port-to-port visibility

Port-to-port visibility has already been implemented among all major ports, however, there is a complete lack of visibility outside of the ports, such as terminals, warehouses, road and rail transporters.

The lack of visibility results in unnecessary port inefficiencies and in lost revenue. Operational efficiencies are negatively impacted by random stacking of imports, late gate, change of vessel, and other unexpected customer behavior that all happens due to the lack of cooperation and insufficient information sharing. Ports are also unable to comply with reporting requirements of the shipping lines. Information exchange still happens by using outdated technology – connecting all stakeholders is difficult, so there is a lack of real-time information exchange. 

How do we solve these challenges?

When it comes to the EDI backlog, the most important is that we build connectivity across you and all your relevant parties and customers to enable real-time data sharing between different systems. Our integration platform can handle complex, challenging integration scenarios, whether it is on-premise to on-premise, on-premise to the cloud (hybrid integration) or cloud-to-cloud integrations. The first connections can be deployed in just under 2 weeks thanks to the pre-built adapters and integration scenarios/templates. We support different protocols, such as EDIFACT, JSON, IMP, XML, CSV, ASC X12, as well as own proprietary formats, etc.

As our integration platform is built on Microsoft Azure which makes it scalable. This is significant, as we can easily add more connections to your existing ones and adjust the already existing ones when the amount of data you transfer is emerging.

As for the real-time event data sharing and expanding port-to-port visibility, the implementation is very similar.

Basically, we utilize similar principles when it comes to the real-time event data sharing and expanding port-to-port visibility. Both implementations are very similar.

We connect all relevant stakeholders to facilitate the flow of real-time information between different systems. To ensure the quality of the data during the transfer we can validate it according to your business rules and forward it back to the sender for enrichment. All the different data formats can be translated into your preferred data format to ensure homogeneousness and it can be integrated into your preferred systems. We also offer business activity tools, if you prefer to follow your transactions there.

We connect ports with all the terminals, warehouses, road and rail transporters in order to receive real-time updates from them and visualize it as per your request. Regardless of the data format, you will receive all the information in your preferred platform in your preferred format. 

How to start any of these data integration projects?

Data integration often sounds like a difficult task to undertake. However, once you define your challenge, we will work with you to map out the best way to move forward – what systems we need to connect, what are the data formats, how do we transfer these, whether we need to translate and validate the data, and how your technical teams need to cooperate with us to provide you with the deployed solution as quickly as possible.

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