With cost of entry still constituting a major obstacle to uptake of data and analytics for many shipowners, could a more bespoke approach provide the answer?
When it comes to data analytics in the marine sector, much of the attention has been drawn by the larger OEMs and their efforts to galvanise and monetise this sphere. This has tended to have the effect of obscuring some other players and their offerings which, while different to those of the OEMs, are no less significant.
BMTSmart is a provider of fleet and vessel performance
management systems, providing these on a service basis according to particular fleet requirements.
In order to achieve this, BMT consultant John Wills i s c l e a r that there is a particular issue that needs to be addressed in shipping f i r s t – cost of entry. “Rates are down, fuel prices are low and we’re in a massive position of oversupply almost everywhere you look So everyone’s thinking ‘I’ll hang on to that US$200,000 because I’ve got wages to pay and I definitely don’t want to be the next Hanjin. If everyone is sat there thinking we’ve got bills to pay, it’s about how we encourage people to do what they already know is the right thing. Part of that is about cost of entry .”
, this requires a different approach and this is where Mr Wills believes BMTSmart can offer something special. “Spreading risk is a way to overcome the cost of entry problem and the only way you can spread risk is to sell this as a service. That’s basically where BMT Smart a r e going with this. We come in , do a consultancy piece at our risk. We analyse your fleet, talk to all your stakeholders and w e look at where performance management works for you .”
H e feels , i s a n a r e a w h e r e shipping has suffered from a traditional way of viewing investment . “Shipowners are used to buying a thing because that’s how most purchasing works in shipping. In that sense, I don’t think the performance management industry has served shipping particularly well. Everyone started off by selling them a thing – ‘put this on your ship and everything will be alright’ . But it doesn’t work like that. If you want to take 10% off your fuel bills, you don’t just buy a thing. You observe, manage and collect data over a long period.”
continues “We don’t make money by selling you a box. Our challenge is b y proving to the customer that for the amount of money they’re willing to spend, they will get a certain amount of quality data that addresses y o u r specific needs.”
This targeted, bespoke approach,
he argues, offers a number of benefits , including greater efficiency and cost saving. “Why would you want to spend two million for a lot of data you don’t need when you can get what you want for a tenth of that?” he a s k s.
I n t e r m s o f w h a t c a n b e a c h i e v e d b y t h i s a p p r o a c h , he believes that t h i s needs to be examined in a holistic way, but that doing so can reap highly significant rewards. “Shipping’s about marginal gains – 1% here, 0.5% there – but it can add up to $US20 miilion. We have a spread of products that go from US$1,000 per vessel a year up to something around US$30,000-40,000 per year. That means that customers can get out of it what they put in.”
To achieve this,
however, Mr Wills i s c l e a r that a degree of transparency between companies such as his and clients is crucial. H e s a i d “Where shipping can be very different to other industries is that it can be very secretive. Sometimes we have customers who we sell to and we’re not entirely sure what they want to get out of it. Clearly they have a plan, but they don’t want to tell us what it is. The trouble is that , unless they do, we can’t know what to provide for them .”
There remains a confidence gap
, h o w e v e r , a s the technology is still in its infancy as far as shipping is concerned. “Everyone says shipping is very conservative, but it’s not really that. It’s more a confidence issue. So more than all the other things at the moment it’s the market a n d from BMT’s perspective, what we’re really trying to do is work on the confidence side of things .”