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For all its sky blue hardware, A.P. Moller - Maersk now finds that its data is fast becoming one of its most important assets. And it is the reason for the new partnerships forged between A.P. Moller - Maersk and digital giants for the creation of a digital platform for software products.
Yes, software products. Data increasingly drives A.P. Moller - Maersk’s operational improvements and is only beginning to be a source of customer and commercial insight, which will bring among other things a better customer experience, more proactive customer service, new products and new revenue streams. Combined with investments underway to improve the flow of data across the company’s operations, the digital platform will eventually enable fast, data-driven software solutions not just for operational challenges but also for customers and the market.
Please be patient, your Digital Vessel app is downloading…
“We’re building digital into the company, piece by piece. That requires investment in people, technology and new ways of working,” says Jakob Stausholm, Chief Financial, Strategy & Transformation Officer for the Transport & Logistics division. “Damco is already designing software solutions for supply chain management customers. Together with our other investments, our partners will enable us to scale up this ability for the rest of Transport & Logistics.”
The path to digital
The person leading the shift to digital is the company’s first Chief Digital Officer, Ibrahim Gokcen. He joined A.P. Moller - Maersk from the American conglomerate General Electric (GE) where he led the development of GE’s Industrial Internet of Things platform and ultimately was instrumental in the transformation of GE into the world’s first digital industrial company.
Physical assets are our core strength. Together with data we have an enormous advantage for optimising them but also to provide products and services that no one else can.
“Maersk is in a different industry but the challenges we face are similar. We have cargo, containers, cranes, trucks, vessels and paper documents, all of which are moving through the value network with data associated with them,” says Gokcen. “These physical assets and our knowledge of operating them are our core strengths. We will never be a purely digital platform, nor should we be. But with data we have an enormous advantage for optimising our assets, operations and enterprise and also for providing products and services that no one else can offer,” he says.
In Maersk Line, the process of integrating digital into the business is an ongoing and multifaceted process. There is the overhaul of legacy IT systems that will enable cumbersome, manual processes (bookings, etc.) to be entirely digitised. When complete, this will provide customers with an online space to handle all their shipping and logistics needs. Another is the continuous hiring of more people with backgrounds similar to Gokcen’s, in areas like mathematics, data analytics, product management and software development.
Then there’s the work at sea, connecting approximately half of Maersk Line’s fleet of 600 vessels to this digital infrastructure. Hardware installations, ranging from bunker flow metres to new computers and servers and communication technology will be done one ship at a time over the coming years. In the end, every relevant operational aspect of the vessel will be visible in the data points in real-time, enabling crews and the shore organisation to make the right decisions at the right time.
The short-term focus is to realise the efficiency benefits of more accurate, real-time data to optimize our operations. We expect that the impact of this data flow on our operational efficiency will be a significant positive.
Ibrahim Gokcen says that A.P. Moller - Maersk is determined to lead the digital transformation of Transport & Logistics. With digital vessels, containers, ports and cranes, the company has an Internet of Things capability and potential with the power to totally change the industry, to reshape supply chains and even trade, with the information and insight that will spin out of it.
The apps will be developed and used internally first, and commercial opportunities will be considered in the near future.
“It will take several years to complete all the steps, not least the installation of hardware on the ships,” Gokcen says. “But eventually our vessels and containers and other assets will be generating terabytes of data on operations and activities in real-time, and machines and people will be talking to each other, learning things about our operations and our customers that we can’t even imagine now – and they’ll be available as products, for download.”
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