Rethinking Maritime Software

David Levy
May 29, 2024

An interview  conducted by Safety4Sea with OrbitMI CMO David Levy from Singapore Maritime Week

Q: What are the benefits of OrbitMI's approach to data sharing and connected workflows? 

Our approach to data sharing and connected workflows across the maritime ecosystem offers numerous benefits. Firstly, from our perspective and that of other software providers, data sharing and collaboration enable us to serve customers more flexibly and swiftly. If we tried to build every possible feature into our platform, it would be the most costly, time-consuming, and risky approach. Instead, when we find that other providers already offer solutions in the market, partnering with them allows us to act quickly, making it easier to make decisions on behalf of our customers. 

What are the benefits? First, customers can act faster. They can find suitable partners and solutions in the market, knowing that technology and data providers will collaborate to help them make the right decisions. This way, they are not limited to a single customer or solution that may not address all their issues. This is one of the enterprise-level benefits. 

From an individual perspective, this leads to the concept of smart connected workflows. Workflows are essentially what people do daily at work and the tasks they need to complete. Many shipping companies have multiple systems requiring people to keep them open, log in, and often cut and paste information into Microsoft Excel, or log out of one system and log into another. This results in disconnected workflows. 

What we aim to do is integrate these data streams to create seamless workflows. This way, you can complete the same tasks using data from the same sources but only need to log into Orbit, where all this information is aggregated. Therefore, there’s no need for repetitive logging in and out, cutting and pasting, or other such tasks, allowing individuals to complete their work more seamlessly. The benefits include faster task completion and reduced error-prone double entry or cutting and pasting, saving time. 

 Additionally, everyone within the organization can see the same information. For example, the chartering department can see the same data as the people on board, as well as the chartering team, operations team, and those involved post-voyage. Therefore, the concept of collaborative and connected workflows applies not only to individual departments but to the entire shipping company and even extends to technical service managers. When everyone operates on the same platform with the same data, they can make decisions based on a single source of truth. Knowing the status and location of your vessels makes sense, and different people can make decisions based on the same data. 

Q: Can you elaborate on the strategic partnership between OrbitMI and Bureau Veritas, and the goals of developing new digital solutions? 

Our partnership with Bureau Veritas began in September 2023, and it has been a fantastic collaboration since then. Our software development work proceeds in three directions. 

Firstly, we combine our world-class software expertise with Bureau Veritas's world-class classification society data and maritime intelligence, integrating it into Orbit. Therefore, we collaborate with Bureau Veritas to understand their clients’ needs and bring these insights into Orbit. Their relationships with clients and their expertise help us innovate and advance the digital transformation journey. Thus, the flow is from Bureau Veritas to Orbit. 

Secondly, it works the other way around as well. Bureau Veritas has a brilliant team with various software applications. We assist them in improving or building additional software applications to help their teams work more efficiently. 

The third, and truly exciting, direction is that we are now developing new solutions together that neither Bureau Veritas nor Orbit have brought to market. This is where the real fun lies. In the coming weeks and months, you will see announcements about entirely new innovations we will introduce to the market. 

Q: How does OrbitMI contribute to cost reduction, emission reduction, and improving maritime operational safety? 

OrbitMI helps our clients reduce costs and emissions and improve safety in various ways. Let’s start with the voyage itself, as this is where we have the most significant impact. Before the voyage, chartering and operations teams can estimate the potential costs of a voyage based on the route taken, whether it’s CO2 costs or fuel costs. By incorporating weather information into our Weather+ product, you can optimize route planning even before engaging with cargo or charter contracts. This allows for a better understanding of fuel consumption, making more informed decisions, and optimizing costs even before the voyage begins. 

During the voyage, Orbit allows operators and users to set alerts to notify them when vessel performance may fall below expectations, consuming more fuel, whether due to budget constraints or encountering weather, for instance. They can also visualize engine performance through other tools. Therefore, at any moment, operators can see how the vessel is performing and receive alerts about any issues needing attention. This ability to act on these alerts allows for proactive problem-solving. For example, in weather situations, they can advise colleagues or direct the captain to change the route or slow down to help reduce fuel costs. Of course, the captain always has the final say, but everyone remains informed. 

After the voyage, we help reduce costs by providing visibility into what happened. In the case of claims, it’s easy to extract data from Orbit through our partners, allowing them to see the actual impact of the voyage and identify any issues. 

Another way Orbit helps reduce costs is by increasing productivity. Thanks to the smart connected workflows we discussed earlier, people can do more with their time. Instead of spending extensive time cutting, pasting, and logging into systems, Orbit allows individuals to make decisions and complete primary tasks more quickly, enabling them to do more value-added work. For instance, an operator can manage 8 to 10 vessels instead of just four or five, resulting in increased productivity and cost savings. 

Regarding safety, this ties into our Weather+ product and continuous alerts provided by Orbit for operators. Before a voyage, you can optimize your route for safety purposes. Just yesterday or the day before in Tokyo, I spoke with a Japanese company whose primary goal is ensuring their vessels operate safely by monitoring the weather and finding the safest routes. They are not concerned with optimizing costs or ETS or other aspects. Therefore, you can use pre-voyage tools to ensure your vessels operate in safe waters. You can also see when a vessel might enter a high-risk area. Considering all the geopolitical unrest, it’s crucial to know when your vessels approach these defined areas to avoid them or purchase related insurance. This way, you stay fully informed about your vessel's status.  

The same applies during the voyage. When the weather changes, you get alerts; when your vessel seems to be entering a high-risk area, you also receive alerts. Again, this keeps the team informed about the voyage, enabling communication and collaboration to inform the captain, allowing everyone to make decisions to maximize the safety of the vessel, crew, and cargo. 

Q: What is your core message to industry stakeholders to promote a more sustainable future for the shipping industry? 

Regarding decarbonization and other industry discussions, I have two core messages for industry stakeholders. Firstly, this is not about technology and technology companies, even though I represent a tech company. You will hear many promises from various companies about what they can and cannot do, and they will all sound similar. This is not the way to make decisions. 

So, my first message is that whether you are a shipowner, operator, or technical services manager, you need to conduct internal due diligence to understand what you want to achieve. It could be enhancing safety, better engaging with the EU ETS, or improving your compliance reporting, which might currently take months and require many people using Excel but can be simplified with Orbit. But you must determine what your business needs. That’s the first step. So, look inward and figure out what you need. 

Then, the second message is to start—begin somewhere. Once you know what you want to achieve, you can find the right product, solution provider, or partner to help you reach your goals. At all the conferences we attend, there is much discussion about digital transformation, which can seem overwhelming. So, my advice to shipping companies, shipowners, and others is to identify your goals, start small, and build from there. If you focus on the big picture, you may become paralyzed and unable to act. But take action now. 

Checklist for Buyers of Maritime Software 

1. Define Your Goals:

  • Identify the specific problems you need to solve.
  • Determine the outcomes you want to achieve (e.g., cost reduction, emissions control, safety improvements).

2. Conduct Internal Assessments:

  • Evaluate your current systems and workflows. 
  • Identify gaps & areas for improvement.

3. Research Potential Solutions: 

  • Look for solutions that address your specific needs. 
  • Ensure the solutions are compatible with your existing systems. 

4. Evaluate Vendors: 

  • Check the vendor's track record and reliability. 
  • Consider their ability to collaborate and integrate with other providers. 

5. Assess the Total Cost of Ownership: 

  • Calculate initial costs, implementation costs, and ongoing maintenance fees. 
  • Consider the long-term ROI and potential cost savings. 

6. Plan for Implementation: 

  • Develop a clear implementation plan with milestones. 
  • Ensure you have the necessary resources and support for a smooth transition. 

 7. Test the Solutions: 

  • Conduct pilot tests to assess the functionality and effectiveness. 
  • Gather feedback from users and make necessary adjustments. 

8. Monitor and Optimize: 

  • Continuously monitor the performance of the software. 
  • Optimize workflows and processes based on data and user feedback. 

9. Stay Updated: 

  • Keep abreast of new developments and updates from your software providers. 
  • Be open to adopting new technologies that can further enhance your operations. 

By following this checklist, maritime stakeholders can make informed decisions, ensuring they choose the right software solutions to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and support a sustainable future. 


Watch the full interview below

Safety4Sea Video David Levy

Watch the full interview

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