How Neo4j enables Orbit AI Routing

David Levy
December 8, 2021

We won a "Graphie" for Supply Chain Excellence:  Here’s why it matters

There’s a famous quote attributed to Fred Astaire, one half of the  great American dance duo of Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  When asked by a reporter why they worked so hard at their craft, Astaire responded, “To make it look easy.  If it doesn't look easy it's because we have not tried hard enough yet.” *

This anecdote came to mind when our partner Neo4j announced that OrbitMI had won the 2­021 Graphie Award for Graph Ecosystem - Supply Chain excellence.  Other winners include Pfizer, Amazon Business, and Volvo.  

A hallmark of Orbit, our SaaS platform, is that it’s easy to use.  For instance, Orbit users take for granted that the custom AI-routing engine in Orbit supports multiple use-cases, whether developing new routes, suggesting diversions to existing ones or performing limitless pre-voyage what-if scenarios that minimize CO2 emissions (see some of the possibilities here). 

Yes, Orbit is easy.  But like Fred and Ginger, to make it look easy the technology works very hard.

In our quest to provide our customers a world class service, building a custom routing solution was a strategic imperative at OrbitMI.  We wanted to create a solution that exploits artificial intelligence, integrates current and historical AIS positions as well as multiple data feeds and APIs.  Such an effort would require a world-class infrastructure.  That’s why we selected Neo4j.

Who is Neo4j, what’s the “graph” and what Neo4j does that others couldn’t

Founded in 2007, Neo4j is the world’s leading provider of scalable graph technology, enabling connected data applications for more than 75% of the Fortune 100 (read more about Neo4J here).  Graph technologies are important in that they provide better performance, flexibility and agility than traditional databases.  You’ll find an excellent summary of graph databases here, but as one writer put it “Graph databases map relationships between entities in a network. They won’t replace conventional relational databases, but for harnessing the value of interconnectedness they mark a breakthrough.”

To deliver a differentiated maritime routing solution we sought a graph technology that could support multiple criteria:

  1. A system that could process large volumes of data
  2. Reliable storage to both house that data and serve it up in real time, and at scale
  3. Support spatial—in addition to linear and tabular—data sets
  4. A library of path-finding algorithms
  5. A development partner who would experiment and innovate with us

Most providers fell off after #2.  None were left by the time we got through #5. Neo4j was the clear choice.  

A world-class AI routing service

As a result of our partnership with Neo4j, we’ve been able to build our AI-routing service—also available as a data-as-a-service API—which has the following features and benefits:

Find the smartest route, not just the shortest

  • Build point-to-point routes, incorporating parameters such as distance, weather, and canal and narrow passage constraints with a single click
  • Innovative graph processing algorithms deliver more detailed routes
  • More precise routing drives better decisions

Capture more cargos with better insights

  • Test unlimited “what if” scenarios for each voyage route
  • Easily generate position lists to optimize your cargo capture
  • Improve your knowledge and negotiating position

Eliminate the guess work in expense planning

  • Estimate time of transit and consumption through ECA zones
  • Avoid Hi-risk areas to minimize unexpected expenses
  • Smarter routes inform bunker requirements and insurance needs

Reduce port delays through port-level insights

  • Gain insight into port restrictions and available facilities
  • Drag and drop new ports to calculate impact to your itinerary
  • Select the right port for your vessel and minimize time spent idling

If you are interested in finding out more about the Orbit routing API, contact us.

Learn more


*It should be noted that for her part Ginger Rogers reminded the writer that she worked even harder since she had to do everything Astaire did, but going backwards and in heels.


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