How Maritime Shipping is leveraging Big Data?

8 mins read  Sealuminati TeamJune 19, 2021

What is Big Data?

The bulk of data generated by many systems, sensors, and devices is continually increasing as technology advances. By 2021, it is anticipated that the world's digital data will exceed way beyond 40 trillion gigabytes. The phrase "Big Data" was originally used to refer to data sets that are so large and complicated that they cannot be processed by traditional software. Today, Big Data is a notion that encompasses more than the challenge of coping with massive amounts of data. With the availability of Big Data analytics, the focus has shifted to the value that can be derived.

Nowadays, the term "Big Data" refers not just to the data itself, but also to emerging technological trends that attempt to capitalize on the potential presented by such data, resulting in a novel method to comprehending the world and making decisions.

The next great revolution in shipping will be driven by Big Data. Big data has impacted industries such as finance, healthcare, and banking and the shipping industry remains no exception.

The Need for Big Data in Maritime Industry

The logistics and transportation industries benefit significantly from Big Data analytics. The data is gathered via a massive network of sensors and devices. Big data analytics technologies are effective at storing and analyzing large amounts of data in real-time in order to evaluate traffic and generate predictions that increase service quality and income for businesses.

The shipping business is a sophisticated mode of transportation. It is subjected to natural factors. As a result, it needs one to adapt to changing circumstances and act quickly. This entails quick decision-making while also taking into account an infinite number of variables. Nobody, as they say, can foretell what the seas will reveal or how the weather will alter.

But Big Data probably can!

While ships sail the seas, they generate tons of data from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats. This data influx from the maritime industry is aggregated and arranged in a cloud-based system. Then, Big data analytics analyzes this data and presents an infinite number of choices.

Big Data analytics transforming the shipping industry

As we are proceeding in the age of digitalization, it is very common to produce a large set of data with each step we take. We tend to provide information about our location, our well-being, etc. to people who are interested to know that. If we scrutinize the field of maritime, the objectives of gathering a lot of data, introspecting them to detail plans, etc. are all becoming a compulsion. This is where Big data analytics come into play.

With the advancing technologies in Big Data analytics, we come across several advantages which tend to make the future of shipping brighter. Gone are days, when the reports and other essentials, as communication data were sent through the post by the office to crew onboard the vessel. The future is scoping demands for the high time-saving requisites and moreover, a better operational efficiency with ease.

Listing the already foreseen advantages of big data analytics getting into the veins of maritime.

- Developing the support network of vessels by the operational level of safety improvisation.

- Marginally lowering the overall emission levels, which providently decreasing and supporting the environmental impact reducing task.

- strengthening the datum line of the ship management company, which helps the company to blossom in times of economic hardships by downplaying the time requirements by making the operations economical quickly.

- Reports, graphs, and detailed frame of onboard activities through key performance indicators (KPI’s) will always be available to stakeholders

- Interpreting the current scenario better, to make the best decisions for future challenges.

Even though Big Data analytics is not a newbie to the maritime industry, yet given the orthodox bringing of the shipping industry, digesting the Big data analytics pill will take time. But this is the time to push the right button, in between highly investing in these testing times or to spectate the competitors grow strong.

Big data analytics have already proven its worth in different industries, and now the shipping industry should get an edge over it as well. It will automatically push such companies, a step ahead of conquering the automation market forecast. A way of doing so is to customize a constructive solution, it is a bit on the costlier side and the time invested would be high. Another way out is to proceed with alternative data handling plans up until the full-fledged application can be processed. The most efficient way of doing the same is to use the current systems inculcating them with the Big Data Analytics part, processing data at the current state of use from different models.

Current Application of Big Data


The prior job of the charterers is to locate the perfect vessel to transport cargo in an economically feasible tag. This data usually generated by brokers are limited and not efficient enough. Big data analytics can gather accurate, accessible, and processed information to ease charters to take decisions. Fusing with an Automatic Identification System (AIS) can take charters and stakeholders through more transparency as freight forecast and market analysis are all at the fingertip.



Vessels generally at the time of delivery, undergo several tests to readily produce an optimum speed for efficient fuel consumption stats. As the ship starts sailing, slowly due to engine malfunctions leading to wear and tears, disrupts the optimum speed considerations. Big data can interpret such problems and present the stakeholders with regular updates on optimum speed, referencing the bunker cost, schedules, and freight rates.


While making plans for onboard maintenance, including propeller furnishing and polishing the hull, the decisions are not based on the performance of the ship but are given with generalized schedules. For instance, the data on fuel consumption can be manipulated in terms of ship maintenance, if the cost-benefit analysis is undertaken. This complication can be easily resolved using Data analytics, as it will provide the best time for performing maintenance and display its benefits.


Tracking of the vessel through notes, emails, or via phone calls to address the estimated time of arrival (ETA), to terminal operators, port agents, and sometimes the voyage managers are worn out. Big data has revolutionized vessel tracking, it can be solely done using dashboards. Cargo handling and vessel route forecasting to allocate berths and to make effective terminal plans is now a matter of minutes. Any bifurcation from the ideal vessel performance is rectified by the dashboard by going through the weather reports, suggestion in speed change, ETA, or opting for some other route or any other real-time management change, to bring back the vessel to smooth and efficient functioning.


Neglecting the needs of upsurging the vessel quality, the vessel owners and operators generally focus to get the vessel above the criteria of acceptance, somehow by just meeting the required standards. Vetting in due course accounts for getting a feedback check from various authorities and self-assessing operators, including the inspectors, port state, and terminal entities. Now, the vetting organizations along with charterers ( fleet should be acceptable for use by them ) can scrutinize different aspects of collected data and choose the ideal vessel with minimal amount of pollution readiness, navigational and safety management risks.

Future changes in Big Data

Bloom in collaborations to build up the caliber of existing technology – To drive the implementations of Big Data analytics into the maritime sector, many companies are throttling their full potential. Many shipbuilders and shipping companies are reportedly stepping into collaborations with experts in the field of supplying technology and universities researching big data.

Minimizing bunkers costs, revitalizing big data – Operators and stakeholders are digging up the whole spectroscopy of big data usage to restrict bunker costs. Reduced bunker costs will set new standards for record market fall and embark the minimal freight prices. Big data also speculate visions for achieving profits via fuel savings and analytic retrofits for energy efficiency.

Cherishing the Big data needs, more maritime software companies will offer data analytics – Already the maritime sector has witnessed a rise in companies offering high-level ship operation optimizing technologies, in recent years. With Big data widening its scope in the diverse shipping industry, the profits will seem lucrative for the software developing companies to upgrade their inventories with Big data analytics software.

Adjustments in the interior infrastructure by the maritime stakeholders to imbibe within the implementations of Big data – Big Data is still at the sampling stage in the huge field of maritime, and the motive to gather data is in bits. The procedure of transferring data to different vendors after data capturing is considerably time-consuming and inadequate. To offset this major blow, maritime companies are reconstructing the interiors and setting up a platform to promise better data security and efficient entities.

Granting economic aids to heed the application of big data in maritime – Big data is kept on notice as the next big thing in the shipping industry, which is probably going to revolutionize the same, as stated by various observers and industrial stakeholders. Also, in the consecutive few last years, the promotional funding for imprinting the idea of emphasis of big data applications in virtue of different aspects covering the shipping has been huge. Realizing that, the same pattern is to follow, the upcoming years are bound to witness payrolls boosting big data.

Challenges and Constraints for Big Data Analytics

‘Quality’ and ‘Quantity’ are the big two challenges for the Big Data in Maritime. The data collected by the onboard sensors reading the performance of the vessel and the navigational aspect can be developing loopholes in terms of both quality and quantity. Data that are incorporated through manual entry may become erroneous due to sensory glitches or any other technical issue. There are certain possibilities on the data entered being manipulated by the operators to disguise activities that are not legally sound. One way out of such malfunctions is an automated entry, and the other is constant value checks.

Big data are not much comfortable with the data cleaning strategies. Data cleaning usually accomplishes the removal of anomaly, values that are conflicting or incomplete, which when done in Big data can reject valuable sounds and some values that are extreme and contains information, which might be useful. This issue is followed by context-dependency, which interprets the importance of some additional data sets usually unavailable to read the initial data correctly, such as the coordinates of the sensor giving the value.

There are certain restrictions of available maximum bandwidth value and high sea satellite transmissions costs. This provokes the storage issues in Big data analytics regarding the data quantity and data transfer between offshore and onshore. To make such data integration easy high standardization of data with the necessary capacity and capabilities is required. Specialist to operate high order statistical data analytics with machine learning to process such lar scale data set is required, absence of which will halt the big data entry in maritime.

Like all connectivity disciplines, Big data is also vulnerable to cyber-attacks which raise some hardcore privacy and ethical difficulties. This connectivity sending reports from vessel to ports can be any day be intercepted to withdraw data. This high update chances to delete the restored data giving non-legislator control over sensors particulates Big Data security at high risks. Thus, Big data should polish its security concerns up to a mark when criminals can never get into it.

Classification societies testify for Big Data analytics

DNV-GL and Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF), two prominent global classification societies, now have released their Big Data initiatives. DNV-GL identifies six primary areas in which Big Data is projected to be included:

  1. Technical operation and maintenance,
  2. Energy efficiency,
  3. Safety performance,
  4. Management and monitoring of shipping-related incidents and environmental risks,
  5. The commercial operation, and
  6. Ship automation.

Additionally, DNV-GL indicates that the data may be held and managed not just by shipowners, but also by shipbuilders, component suppliers, and the classification organization. Big Data, according to LRF, will empower condition-based maintenance, smart manufacturing, and self-driving cars. They plan to develop an infrastructure for the sharing of data from multiple sources, authenticate the data accuracy, and regulate the rights and duties of market participants.

ClassNK is another classification society with a focus on Big Data. Consequently, they have developed the shipping industry's first shared Big Data platform. Fujitsu Limited launched the platform in 2016. It collects real-time data about machinery aboard moving vessels, such as engine data, and lets ship operators, shipowners, shipyards, manufacturers, and other marine organizations extract data as needed.

Is Big Data here to stay in the Shipping Industry?

Subsequent global developments would cause a rise in demand and commodities supply. This would require the shipping industry to be as effective and punctual as possible. By embracing the power of big data and innovative data processing techniques, the shipping industry is aiming to boost efficiency and thus trade — directly impacting the global economy.

We are entering the next shipping era quickly, thanks to increased data supplying power and automation. With data collected in real-time from ships, it would be possible to manage the vessels remotely.

However, working with Big Data involves confronting challenges of data volume and quality. The marine industry, in particular, is in desperate need of data professionals. Additionally, there are security and privacy concerns that demand the establishment of a legislative framework for data governance.

While the marine industry might substantially benefit from embracing Big Data, a number of obstacles must be addressed before it can be used to its full potential.

The more closely you examine the potential of big data, the deeper the rabbit hole becomes. A competitive edge is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain in modern transportation. Cutting costs arbitrarily is not a sustainable practice and should be avoided purely out of concern for crew safety and welfare if nothing else. Investing in Big Data analytics is not only a prudent method to boost efficiency, cut costs, and improve safety but is also one of the few remaining avenues for achieving a genuine competitive advantage.