What If Series Question

What if the maritime industry used a digital Statement of Facts?

The ‘What If’ series is a series of blog posts that challenge the possibility of traditions in the maritime industry and provides insight into what will happen when technology is adopted and applied to these traditions.

In the maritime industry, the Statement of Fact is a document that logs specific events tied to the loading and discharging of a ship. For the non-containerized sector of the shipping industry, 99% of these documents are still created using a clipboard, pen, and paper. From here the document is manually transposed into PDF form and shared via email. On average, an Statement of Fact contains over 30 events.

Each year more than 50,000 merchant vessels conduct load and discharge operations around the globe. We estimate that over the course of a year 120 million events are being manually logged by captains, agents, terminals, and surveyors across the globe.

So what does this mean for the maritime industry?

The reliance on paper Statement of Fact is a productivity drain on a highly skilled industry. Our team has mapped the process of terminals, brokers, shipowners, agents, and charterers. What we found is that the paper and PDF SoF is costing the industry millions of dollars a year.

How? When you follow the journey of an SoF you can see why.

Start: 

  1. SoF is generated by an agent on the ship usually with pen and paper
  2. The SoF is then manually transcribed to a computer and a PDF version created
  3. Next, the PDF version is sent to counterparts
  4. Then the PDF Version is transcribed by an intermediary into their own system or XLS
  5. Finally, the PDF Version is continually transcribed and keyed into systems along with the value chain up to 6 or 7 additional times

A single SoF may only take minutes to create, but the resulting manual workflows will result in over 3hrs of processing along the value chain.

Approximately 12,000,000hrs are being spent on this manual process across the industry. To make matters worse, the Statement of Fact is just one of many documents that are created during the load and discharge process. But that story is for another day…

Like many things, the real story is in the data

Whilst the productivity loss for the maritime industry is significant, the real loss to the industry is that the Statement of Fact provides valuable insights into the broader maritime industry.

By moving to digital Statements of Fact our customers have unlocked deep insights into the performance of shipowners, terminals, and ports. When you aggregate this data across the company and combine it with financial data, powerful trends emerge. These trends have allowed our customers to improve their operational and commercial decision making with direct impacts on the company P&L.

In aggregate form, this data can be used by the industry as a whole to answer questions around:

  1. How should I price calling specific ports calls relative to congestion risk?
  2. How much time should I estimate for specific port calls?
  3. What is the probability of incurring demurrage on a specific route?
  4. Where should I acquire storage space?
  5. Whats terms and conditions should I agree on with a supplier, receiver, or shipowner?

What is Voyager doing about it?

The Voyager platform sits at the nexus of workflow management and analytics for the maritime industry. In our previous post, we discuss how our low-code workflow modeler can be used to create digital workflows that you can access and share across networks. As we speak, our customers are creating and sharing digital statements of facts that are then being downloaded and analyzed via API or within Voyager. Contact us to learn more.

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