Big Data is one of the buzzwords in shipping. Seattle-based ioCurrents aims to help ship owners and managers optimise vessel performance by providing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Started in 2015 the company spent the first two years developing its platform Marine Insights. Co-founder Cosmo King talked to HANSA about chances and challenges of Big Data in shipping as well as ioCurrents’ approach.
For King, Big Data is just the collection of massive quantities of typically isolated and sometimes insignificant information. In this sense, AI & ML are simply the technologies that can make sense of these massive data sets, contextualize and synthesis the data into actionable insights: »For instance, we are deploying ML and AI to look at big data coming off ship operators’ vessels and understanding the baseline behaviour of a vessel.«
AI learns what good looks like, normal looks like, and can develop ML models to predict when a failure is imminent, providing lead time to prevent downtime. »We also use this same technique to understand, based on a vessel‘s normal behaviours, the optimal fuel consumption for any portion of a voyage, to help reduce consumption and emissions while maintaining a scheduled arrival time, or even improving it«, he says.
Regarding the question of whether there is a greater need for technological modernisation ashore or on board, he emphasises: »Both; and more specifically the communication and collaboration between the vessel and the shore side organization.« At ioCurrents, people think that until recently, operations, engineering and compliance have been in the dark until arrival, with infrequent communications along the way. However, that has all changed: Now the vessel itself can produce its own reports with the tools.
For that King and his colleagues start with remote condition based monitoring and proactive alarms so vessels themselves can automatically communicate with appropriate stakeholders about critical happenings. Also access to the »InsightHub« is provided, which has a litany of self-reporting mechanisms that organizations can enable, allowing stakeholders to select only the things that will make an impact on their business. Then AI & ML based solutions around predicting failures and proactively improving voyage costs are introduced.
Apart from that, King sees potential for development on the side of the technology providers, too in order to get digital potentials better exploited: »There are multiple solutions available. Most are around a deep niche solution that are very specific. There is a world where an operator should be able to utilize multiple solutions at one time, from one place.« According to the Chief Innovation Officer, ioCurrents is already working to partner with multiple solutions to make this a reality.
Key factors of the company’s portfolio are amongst others »improving maintenance« and »predict failures«. In this context, it could be interesting for ship owners and managers to directly connect with suppliers and shipyards, in order to make the processes for spare parts logistics, maintenance work, etc. more efficient. »The more you can automate, the better«, King says. »ioCurrents is not an ERP or inventory / procurement software, but those exist and we can and do integrate with them.« For him, it is through collaboration of technology specialists and integrations »that we are going to make bigger impacts sooner, rather than waiting for one provider to do everything poorly.« (MM)