Here at GTMaritime we have over 5,500 ships connecting daily into our systems from all over the world so providing a wealth of data that can be used to give a good assessment of the messaging communications situation in the maritime world.
As we all know – data is the new oil and so being able to see what has transpired over the last year allows me to peep into the crystal ball and assess the future trends with a modicum of accuracy.
This is indeed the topic being discussed at the moment in the maritime IT sector – Digitisation, Big Data and Data Analytics all provide quality information to help companies make better decisions in their business.
The following is our data from the last 2 years:
|Number of Message per ship, per month||1953||2049|
|Amount of data per ship, per month in MB||350||450|
As can be seen at once, data usage is increasing, as are the number of messages to and from the ships. It’s important to note that we are referring here to e-mail messaging and file transfer data, not IP crew browsing data, which is also seeing a huge increase independently of this.
Why could this be?
With ships having networks onboard and the airtime prices adjusting such that “all you can eat” data is more prevalent, there are more users onboard having access to communications. Not so long ago it was just the Captain that used the satellite communications.
In the ship operators office, it used to be only key personnel were allowed to communicate with the ships. The link has now opened up to most of the office staff ashore and of course, third parties around the world, replying to messages from ship staff.
The relatively lower satellite cost scenario has been available to ship operators for some time now but it takes time to realise the efficiencies gained from a policy of more open communications. Hence why we are seeing a gradual increase in data usage.
Let’s face it, in any other industry the communications between the shop floor and the office are well established and operate at maximum efficiency for that business. In the maritime industry one could regard the ship as the shop floor. Communications between the two have hitherto been minimal and so when a restriction is relaxed, it takes time for the two parties to adapt to the new operating procedure.
We are now seeing the ship and office make more use of the link between them and starting to realise the efficiencies they are gaining due to better communications.
Add to this the data being transferred by the various OEM’s onboard to keep an analysis check on their products. This improves efficiencies for both the ship owner and the OEM. On most modern ships there are thousands of sensors that detect changes to all aspects of the vessels performance and so good analysis coupled with comparisons to sister ships in similar sea states and conditions will produce quality information.
Efficiencies gained are in the areas of better servicing and maintenance of critical systems such as main engine and bridge equipment. Some of the efficiencies gained serve towards reducing fuel consumption which of course produce huge cost savings.
I read recently that one of our large supermarkets here in the UK can use the data they extract from their customers to determine when their customer is pregnant, before they actually know it themselves. This is achieved by studying the spending patterns of their female customers just prior to the purchase of a pregnancy test pack.
Scary!! I know but this illustrates how powerful quality data can be to any company.
As some of the affordable plans on the market for VSAT, FBB and Iridium are based on a set amount of data usage per month and as ships data usage continues to grow each year, so too will the satellite costs for the ship operator. In addition, the larger “all you can eat” data plans presently offer data speeds that are not in keeping with the amount of data being used, particularly when crew browsing and downloads are taken into account, so congestion is inevitable.
In the spirit of “doing things better” this year, GTMaritime we will be introducing a new product that has been designed from the ground up to deal with ships data communications over satellite. To offer efficiencies across the satellite link and so deal with this ever-increasing growth in data usage. It will allow the ships to enjoy a longer period of time on the data package they are presently paying for without the revolving circle being ever present whenever the ship’s crew hits “Search” or “Send.”