We take for granted that we live in a connected world as we read tweets from the International Space Station, ponder the first driverless cars and expect WiFi in airplanes.
But sail a few hundred metres offshore from any of the busiest ports and that connected world becomes a distant memory, says Gavan Murphy of Globalstar. As shipping managers optimise their supply chains to within an inch of their life, there is often a considerable information gap when tracking precious cargo.
Thankfully, M2M mobile satellite communications have undergone a transformation of late and it is now both affordable and easy to meet today’s expectations of constant monitoring as ships make their way across the high seas.
M2M mitigates some risks
M2M communications mitigate some of the risks involved in piracy and theft and keep fleet managers on shore abreast of the latest conditions without requiring on-ship support. The data accrued is also yielding useful information that edify service level agreements, making them more meaningful in every way.
Using small M2M simplex devices, details about the vessels’ progress and local conditions that impact the journey, such as wind strength and wave height, are automatically transmitted at regular intervals.
For example, Jakota Cruise Systems’ FleetMon uses Globalstar’s second generation satellite constellation to provide accurate tracking on many hundreds of sea-faring ships.
Real-time information for the whole logistics chain
By analysing data sent from a Globalstar simplex M2M device on each ship, the software delivers business intelligence that improves decision-making. This is critical for the many stakeholders in a long logistics chain, all of whom require real-time information about the many aspects of cargo delivery. Plus, precise predictions about arrival times help crew scheduling and booking in ship maintenance to maximise efficiency.
Felix Richter, FleetMon’s managing director, commented: “We are continuously crunching larger quantities of data and honing our algorithms. By monitoring a ship over a few months, we build a detailed picture about how factors impact a vessel’s performance, giving our customers a most valuable data resource for informed decisions.”
When a ship is chartered, the owner contractually agrees service levels for performance, speed and fuel consumption. This agreement uses data about typical, expected, and acceptable performance for that particular vessel, ensuring both parties have the facts about any elements and variables that impact those obligations.
“With tens of thousands of dollars a day at stake, this data is critical,” said Richter. “We are also seeing more interest in understanding the impact of any particular captain’s decisions about nautical manoeuvres. As our Big Data repository grows, this gets more sophisticated and delivers more benefits.”
Piracy and theft are still realities
Although shipping companies still have to worry about the grim prospect of piracy and theft, the good news is that today’s M2M satellite devices are tiny and can be hidden from criminals.
Thanks to the falling cost of satellite communications and M2M devices, as well as the detailed analysis that Big Data makes available, there’s now a new transparency in maritime communications.
The author of this blog is Gavan Murphy, director of Marketing – EMEA, Globalstar