How Start-Ups Are Helping Reinvent Shipping Industry

Credits: Maria Lupan/ Unsplash

With around 80% of global trade by volume and over 70% by value carried out on waves, there is no denying the fact that maritime transport has remained the backbone of international trade and the global economy. It has proved to be the most affordable and efficient way of ferrying goods over long distances at a fraction of cost as compared with the other modes of transport like rail, road and air.

However, lack of speed in adoption of new and evolving modern age technologies still remains a challenge for this sector, leading to inefficiencies and delays. Evolving customer expectations, however, has made it crucial for the companies in the sector to keep up with the digital age.

The good news is that a host of start-ups have emerged in this space that are helping the industry digitize and bring effective solutions to the various challenges faced by it by their technology offerings. According to Tracxn, a market intelligence platform, there are 47 marine shipping start-ups in India. The technologies offered by these start-ups range from robotics to AI, machine learning to internet of things (IoT), blockchain to drones, and augmented reality in order to not only help maritime industry deal with various challenges but also help create a safer, efficient, and more productive environment to carry out export and import trade. Entrepreneur India takes a look at how these start-ups are solving some of the most pressing issues of the maritime shipping industry and helping it reinvent.

Hull inspection via Robotics: A hull is the most exposed part of the ship to the water, and therefore most crucial also. When the ship sails, there is an unwanted build-up of sea life on the hull. This not only slows down the speed of the vessel but also burns more fuel, producing higher costs and more carbon emissions.Therefore, it requires regular inspection. But the same is a dangerous, challenging, and tedious task. Traditionally, human divers used to perform their work while the ship is moored in port or docked. However, taking the vessel completely out of the water when it is not required can waste a lot of time and money. But now with the help of robotics, this problem is being resolved. Some of the start-ups that are working on this technology include Planyl technologies and EyeROV.

“Underwater inspection of ships’ hulls is a cost-effect alternative to drydocking or performing diver inspections. Our Remotely Operated Vehicle ROV, EyeROV TUNA is used to perform safe and efficient hull inspections. The piloted tethered submersible vehicles (which are controlled from the control station via a tether) are an alternative to diver based inspections or drydocking which is rather time consuming. The system is connected to a laptop and data is retrieved easily from it.The ROV system can be attached with specialized payloads for cleaning of marine growth,” says Johns T Mathai, CEO and Co-Founder, EyeROV. However, Mathai feels that the awareness about remotely operated vehicle based inspections is still a challenge “We are mostly employing manual methods and acceptance for robotics inspection will require policy level interventions,” adds Mathai. Underwater ROV which can go up to depth of 200m TURT is already launched. It can withstand higher water currents for offshore applications. The company has also launched Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) iBoat Alpha for marine surveillance and bathymetric applications.

Digitizing procurement of supplies: For a long time, procuring ship supplies and consumables used to be a tedious and time consuming process for seafarers. The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) softwares used were complicated and manual, requiring use of excel sheets or PDF’s to make requisitions and purchase orders. With no catalogues, one had to mention brand names and attach images. There were also concerns about the quality of products. But with the emergence of start-ups like Shipskart ,the procurement scene is changing fast. The process is now streamlined and the seafarers and shipowners can order supplies at one click and get it delivered at the shore in the fastest way.

Says Captain Dhruv Sawhney, CEO and Co-founder, Shipskart, “During my tenure on various vessels, I found the experience of quasi-manual procurement deeply inefficient, leading to wastage of time and money. So, we extensively researched the procurement space to better understand how to streamline it and directly connect ship owners with suppliers in one common marketplace. Now seafarers and ship owners and managers enjoy a reliable and seamless experience that is 100% digital throughout the ordering and delivery of marine goods and services to vessels operating around the globe. Our core offerings are the complete ship supplies end to end solutions dealing in all major categories.”

The company has already opened three warehouses in India- Mumbai, Cochin and Gujarat and is set to open three more in Chennai, Vizag and Kolkata. The Amazon-like marketplace can be integrated with the in house ERP of any shipping company and can be accessed on an app. “With our marketplace, maritime companies can now focus their time on what’s really critical to drive value on the management front. To date, the company has processed 3000+ successful orders across the world, delivering savings of up to 20% to valued clients,” adds Sawhney.

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Source: Entreprenure


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