Liberty Maritime: a real world experience of digitalisation in shipping

Josh Shapiro coo of Liberty Maritime/Liberty Global Logistics cut through the buzzwords associated with the digitalization of shipping to explain the real benefits the company is seeing from the process.

Shapiro’s Connecticut Maritime Association lunch talk provided insights from a well-known local owner actually using a wide range of tools and methodologies in the digital realm for both its shipping – dry bulk and ro-ro - and logistics businesses.

The talk stressed the “Quantitative Approach to Shipping” that’s been implemented by Shapiro within his company, which has a raft of benefits ranging from risk mitigation to regulatory and contract compliance - this being critical in work for the US government. Shapiro zeroed in on bunker buying, voyage planning/ optimization and logistics management/ supply chains.

In fuel procurement, the presentation showed how proprietary models enable a sophisticated analysis of price spreads and correlations, focusing on movements against prices for Brent crude. The end result is the ability for the company to “capture full value” from Bunker Adjustment Factors tagged on to basic freight.

Quantitative planning and optimization of voyages and supply chains permeates Liberty’s business, linking diverse aspects of customer interfaces, internal cargo management/ space allocation, and reporting, among other aspects.

Cyber-security also received a big emphasis in the presentation, with Shapiro highlighting actions of Class, Flag, and Customs towards maintaining secure environments as the digital world pervades all facets of shipping company operations.

The B-word, or blockchain, where each day is now seeing new press releases re maritime applications, came up several times during the prepared remarks and lengthy Q and A session that followed. For Liberty, he explained the context as being “real time data exchange and timely reporting” as existing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) protocols morph into blockchain.

At points during his talk, he opined that “Shipping is moving towards blockchain”, but he cautioned the audience that: “It’s not easy as you might think….you need end to end planning for automation”. When pressed by a questioner for a timeframe, he opined that EDI could be replaced by the B-word over a 3- 5 year timeframe.

Problems facing shipping companies are seeing a fresh set of solutions. Importantly, Shapiro has played a role in founding the Maritime Global Technologies Innovation Center (MGTIC) at the State University of New York- Fort Schuyler, which had a group of faculty in attendance at the lunch. MGTIC is organizing a “Reverse Pitch” forum in mid March, in the day following the CMA’s annual event which will be held in Stamford, Ct, where the industry will be telling vendors/ solution providers about “the critical needs they have to address enduring pain points, challenges and potential ideas for change.”

Posted 31 January 2018

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Barry Parker

New York correspondent, Seatrade Maritime

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