Growth Potential of Maritime Trade with Cloud-based Platforms

Growth Potential of Maritime Trade with Cloud-based Platforms


Ports need help in modernizing the following areas


  • Bottlenecks present in managing the logistics of loading and unloading and faster throughput of cargo
  • Problem is accentuated by lack of usable space and storage space in the port, so the real -time collaboration of all parties is required
  • Unscheduled breakdown of critical equipment like cranes / RTG
  • Collaboration with various agencies like government agencies,customs, customers, logistic providers, vendors in real-time is not available currently
  • Action after a decision being initiated manually . For example,a Delivery Order is reviewed and sent manually before sending it out to the Agent.
  • Use of machine learning in anomaly detection, visual -based data entry (like facial recognition, drone -based inspections, visual quality checks) . Too much effort undergoes in manual data entry, mistakes during data entry, upload and downloads of reports, no alerts . Routine and predictive data still needs to be entered from scratch


Why do maritime companies wish to leverage cloud-based platforms?


Yes, maritime stakeholders such as shipping lines, container yards, terminal operators, forwarders/consolidators, transporters are rapidly leveraging cloud computing. Here are some reasons why they are eyeing more on cloud computing.


  • Cost Cutting: According to a recent study, 50 per cent is the rate of cost savings which these stakeholders realized by deploying cloud-based platforms. These platforms enable companies to cut down unnecessary infrastructural costs. Also, it enables them to meet their variable expenses as they can pay for the applications which they use and smartly manage their resources.
  • Agility: Yet another key benefit of having a cloud-based platform. Resources can be monitored remotely, and movement of cargo can be tracked on every milestone. Documentation is made online and the same involves validation plus verification from the authorities. Therefore, the entire operation is digitized seamlessly.
  • Elasticity: The maritime trade is a cyclical industry with steep fluctuational patterns in transactional volumes. A cloud-based platform enables all these stakeholders to adopt smart capacity handling. They can instantaneously scale up or down that is in line with the market conditions
  • Integrating Global & Local Operations: Several shipping lines right after lockdown restrictions stood up and implemented technologies such as online slot booking etc. This not only helped them increase the scale of their operations, but also enabled them to garner clientele from different geographies across the world. In turn, their operations too expanded on a global scale


Possible Applications where the above can be realized in Maritime Trade


Cloud-based platforms i.e., Port Community System are not the thing of the future. It is rather a trend that has already emerged and dominating the maritime industry. The number of digital investments made by leading Shipping Lines and Port Authorities are the testimony to this fact. In the coming days, technologies such as 5G, Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) will find more relevance as IT solutions providers are inculcating these technologies rapidly. Precisely, we are already in the new normal.


  • Digital Documentation (Delivery Order, Bill of Lading): It is said that to process Delivery Order alone, the time consumed is 3 days. And this means, the cargo/container is strangled in the source port environment only for 3 days. Whereas a cloud-based platform could easily digitize the entire documentation process simultaneously.
  • Digital Vessel Operations & Management: On average, 40 hours is the time taken for a vessel to unberth in a seaport. This significant time reflects the manual activities that exists in some ports even today. However, cloud-based platforms can seamlessly help overcome these delays with digitized operations.
  • Milestone Tracking: Forwarder/Consolidator, Transporter and other stakeholders who are not in the port ecosystem often ask, “where is my cargo?” Yes, this is a result of the glitches involved in the entire maritime value chain. Milestone Tracking is an application of a cloud-based platform which could enable micro level tracking of the cargo/container in the maritime value chain
  • Digital Inventory/Warehouse Management: During the lockdown restrictions envisaged last year, several warehouses in the Yards and Terminals went non-functional. While several Yard Managers decided to innovate and digitized remote working as well as monitoring. Digital Warehouse Management could enable 24×7 monitoring of activities. Most importantly, it is more reliable when it comes to thwarting challenges such as cargo theft.


A modern smart port and its community can adopt cloud-based systems and derive benefits like:


  • Modernization of logistics and gate operations – Ports need to coordinate in real-time with various players for quick entry and exit, given the limited space in the ports. For example, based on the unloading sequence, the correct order of trucks will be set at the gate. Automatic sensors for weight, and number plate readers will eliminate data entry. Mobile alerts will help employees coordinate with all parties
  • AI and ML, based on parameters such as vibration and temperatures and usage, can predict when a breakdown will occur, for cranes or any other equipment.
  • The system helps in drone-based inspections and on-the-spot data entry on remote sites. It also predicts the data to be entered based on previous records and/or visual readings
  • Facial recognition for attendance and safety purposes, where the system checks for masks/helmets and real-time alerts
  • Automated vendor and customer payments based on machine learning matching the unreconciled entries
  • Machine predicts what is usually approved and does not even bring it up for approval. Reduces processing time from weeks to less than a day
  • Specific mobile apps for collaboration among various roles, to be used anywhere.


Looking Forward


Forward planning with COVID-19 has proved difficult, with new variants, restrictions and long-term effects proving hard to predict. The Global Trade Atlas Forecast suggests recovery for the maritime industry in 2021 with seaborne trade forecasted a 6.9% growth rate from 2020 to 2021.