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How Digitization Can Help Create A Robust Ecosystem In Sea Freight Management

Challenges like slowing down of import/ export, shortages of equipment and labor, stricter movement across international borders and new rules of international trade, has brought the sector to a slowdown!

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The global shipping and logistic sector is the backbone of international trade, enabling economies to engage and thrive, even as industries world over are able to expand and explore new markets, leveraging seamless supply chains. However, the pandemic has impacted the global supply chains significantly, disrupting the warehousing, logistics and international sea freights drastically.

According to industrial studies, more than 90% of the world’s good transport is handled by sea. It is estimated that every year around 8 million tons of goods are transported across the sea by container ships, tankers, and bulk carriers. Yet, with the pandemic, challenges like slowing down of import/ export, shortages of equipment and labor, stricter movement across international borders and new rules of international trade, has brought the sector to a slowdown!

However, just like for other sectors, digitization offers a ray of hope for the shipping and maritime logistics sector. Listed here are a few pointers on how digital adoption can help build a robust, proactive, agile and efficient operations for Sea freights:

1. Optimizing Resources: Lack of equipment and resources, including shipping containers, is one of the biggest challenges faced by the sector during the pandemic. Digital adoption allows companies to create a bankable data driven ecosystem which can help predict availability, and share insights into optimization of these resources. It can also help manage and streamline operations making the best use of available options, to maintain a level of efficiency and consistency vital for a business.

2. Scheduling of shipment: With an uncertain environment regarding international trade, there has been a shortage in equipment (containers) and sourcing of laborers, making it important that scheduling of shipments is done effectively so as to maintain the operational efficacy. Digitization can help shippers leverage online booking platforms to plan, consolidate, and schedule shipments in ways that aligns with current international supply chain environments. According to industry analyst and contributor Lars Jensen report, Maersk Spot online booking tool, in early 2021, accounted for 12% of spot cargo at Maersk, while the run rate of the Hapag-Lloyd Quick Quotes product was 9% of bookings. This accelerated growth highlights the fact that the sector is now ready for serious digital adoption, beyond the scope of experimentation, and is now seeking effective operational and commercial impact of the tech enabled processes.

3. Real time updates: This is one of the most vital yet simple forms of digital adoption that is changing the face of international supply chains. Leveraging intelligent data driven insights, freight companies can operate through integrated dashboards for viewing and schedule shipments, and to receive real time updates. Apart from helping keep a track of the supply chain and predicting possible hurdles, real time updates also help build a stronger customer connect and enhance customer experience through proactive engagement.

4. Route optimization: Digitization can help in the optimization of routes, something that is vital especially during the unpredictable business environment. While so far route optimization has been done keeping in mind the immediate business goals and the current environment, tech adoption can help perfect it better. With an approach towards building efficacy and consolidating shipments, and keeping in mind the new deadlines, tech adoption is ensuring smother and more accurate routes that help save time, money and optimize resources.

While most of the above pointers are only a tip of the immense possibilities that digitization can bring to the sea freight sector, new innovations are constantly underway. The Shipping and Logistic Sector is also undergoing a rapid digital transformation and is inclined towards the “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology, driven by Big Data and analytics. At this rate, it will not be long before an integrated platform of AI-enabled products would emerge and transform the current ways, connecting people, and machines. Digitization is estimated to have a substantial outcome for the shipping and logistic sector, especially with regards to the time efficiency, flexibility, and maneuverability of its processes.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Hector Patel

Executive Director, and Board Member, Jeena & Company

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