27 Jun
2016

Cloud-Based Solutions Are Helping the Cargo Shipping Industry

The shipping container industry has not been profitable for over five years and is missing out on monetizing innovations, according to consulting management firm McKinsey and Company. In addition, the industry is largely conservative and slow to change or adopt new technology.

Knowing it’s time to adapt and figuring out how to do it are two different things. The cargo shipping industry can start by adopting cloud-based solutions that can impact companies’ bottom lines by solving logistical problems, providing disaster recovery options and streamlining operations.

 

Solving Logistical Problems

Shipping containers account for over 90 percent of non-bulk cargo, but the industry is still suffering from logistical challenges, reports Microsoft. Moreover, 20 percent of containers are moved around and processed with nothing inside. This accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Belgian-based company Avantida hopes to rectify this problem with its ReUse app and Microsoft Azure. Simply put, after a container is emptied, it needs to return to a port. What the app does is send a request to ask if a match can be made to reuse the shipping container so it can be packed and sent back full of inventory instead of left empty.

Avantida leveraged Microsoft Azure to create the app’s flexible infrastructure in the cloud so it can easily integrate with its customers. Logistics partners and customers, transporters and anyone else involved can access the app from anywhere on the cloud. CEO of Avantida Luc De Clerck explains, “We don’t do anything locally. We develop, test and deploy in the cloud. We’re 100% cloud-based.”

 

Providing Disaster Recovery

Maritime vessels and the cargo shipping industry are especially vulnerable to natural disasters because of rough seas and storms. But it’s not just the cargo that’s at stake. Many ships exclusively store their data onboard, which can lead to loss and human error with no reliable backup system in place.

Storing cargo manifest and data in the cloud can serve as a fast, secure and reliable backup, regardless of the weather. Verizon Enterprise Solutions claims that disaster recovery is one of the most significant aspects of cloud adoption for the shipping industry. It explains that by storing data in a secure and centralized location, businesses can protect their information even if there is a problem with the ship. Furthermore, cloud computing reduces physical storage overhead and manpower to maintain onboard servers and paperwork.

 

Streamlining Operations

Cargo fleets that are adopting the cloud benefit from real-time, streamlined operations and communication processes that impact their bottom line. The cloud charts routes and looks at inclement weather to reduce storm damage and then communicates those changes back to shipping fleets to maximize transit time.

Fuel is a major cost to the shipping industry, and fleets often stick with the same supplier without checking the going rate in the market. Inatech is poised to fix that challenge. United Arab Shipping switched to Inatech’s cloud-based fuel management system, Shiptech, to capture real-time market prices on fuel. Shiptech reduces the company’s reliance on manually intensive processes, letting them make faster and smarter decisions instead of relying on outdated or slow information channels. Inatech estimates that its software reduces a fleet’s bunker fuel costs by as much as 5 percent.

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