Business organizations have been administering their routine functions using computers for several decades now. We know computers are information processing machines that process data to yield the information a user is looking for. Businesses are overwhelmed with both organized and unorganized data constantly. Finally, what organizations do with such data is that matters.

Reliable estimates suggest that 99% of data that’s available is not analyzed. For retail businesses, each mouse click, customer email and item dropped in to an ecommerce basket helps to sell more and improve customer service. For the shipping industry, using maritime data analytics improves financials, optimizes contracts and helps strategize better route planning and operations.

To cite an example, from the data obtained by tracking shipments over many years, analysts can arrive at the probable causes of vessel mishaps at sea, loss of containers in & around terminals, issues concerning damage to goods, and so forth. Big data for the shipping industry creates reliable cargo delivery options.

Let’s delve into the specific areas where big data can play an important role in enhancing functions within the shipping industry.

Fuel efficiency

There’s an inherent association between the speed of an engine-propelled vehicle and the fuel efficiency it delivers. The optimum speed that a manufacturer recommends may fluctuate depending upon engine wear & tear and maintenance factors. Data analytics help shipping companies to determine the right speed to obtain the optimum mileage by factoring in bunker costs, freight rates and schedules. Taking decisions on vessel maintenance, hull cleaning and propeller polishing can be enhanced with information from data analytics.


Based on inputs provided by brokers and ship-owners, charterers must locate and recommend the right vessel appropriate to the type of cargo at an economical price. Often, charterers have to work with very little information, and this may prove ineffective in making the right decision on the type of vessel to be employed for a specific purpose. Big data analysis come to the rescue here with accurate and actionable information. Integrating Automatic Identification System (AIS) information, position reports, time schedules and vessel details into an exchange portal help identify the best alternatives and freight forecast. Thus, the charterers and ship-owners can evaluate multiple options, and this increases transparency.

Voyage operations

Big data comes to the aid of terminal operators, voyage managers and agents. Information such as the estimated time of arrival and cargo information can be gathered using dashboards, as against conventional notes and telephone calls. Terminal & berth allocation, cargo handling and route tracking become simplified. Dashboards also help in pinpointing deviations from optimal performance. Routes, such as the originally planned one and the weather service provided route, can be tracked in real-time. Deviations from the intended speed, ETA and other parameters can be managed in real-time to make sure that the voyage proceeds as planned.


Vessel operators must ensure that their fleet gains acceptability from charterers because of the quality of their vessels. Data analytics assist charterers and vetting organizations in analyzing the source of information to reach a conclusion on the right vessel for the task at hand.

 Data collected from vessel sensors and other sources, such as weather stations and satellites, are processed through machine learning algorithms to get useful information for shipping companies to make critical decisions. Useful insights gathered from big data can, for instance, suggest the right time to overhaul or replace parts in the engine and other equipment; whether the hull needs cleaning to derive optimal fuel efficiency; recommend the best route concerning safety, weather and fuel economy. 

It’s apparent that the volume of data that can be tapped and translated into useful information will transform how the shipping industry looks to future. Big data can predict repair and maintenance costs, optimize fuel economy and plot the best feasible routes between ports. A proven, inexpensive approach to maximize energy efficiency is to optimize the ship’s trim. Research has shown that weather-based route planning drops fuel consumption by 3%, while maintaining the hull and propeller in peak condition brings 10% reduction in fuel expenditure.

Big data identifies patterns using artificial intelligence to gain insights with which the right actions can be initiated. It predicts market trends and aids operational efficiency. 

For the shipping industry, big data analytics is at its budding stage and this is the right time to explore its benefits, as the industry is embarking on an ambitious voyage into the future.

Continual engagement with leaders in the shipping industry, domain skill and technology expertise make iInterchange Systems your perfect partner to realize the software needs of container depots and ocean carriers.