Nowadays, majority of the global supply chain scene is taking place in the sea. Estimations are that around 90% of the global trade volume is lead by the shipping industry. In the last two years, the maritime supply chain has experienced a significant storm. On the one hand, the COVID-19 crisis has led to traffic restrictions and even closure of ports, and on the other hand the international trade volume has increased by 1,500%. In addition, the current crisis in Ukraine is threatening to disrupt maritime traffic, as some shipping companies have already announced they halt shipments to Russia.
These factors create bottlenecks and huge delays in the arrival of transport ships to their destination. According to the data, only 30%-40% of the shipments reach their destination in the undertaken time. The uncertainty and the low reliability of arrival times make it very difficult to operate, and also disrupt risk management of companies along the supply chain – starting from exporters and shipping companies, to end customers and financial bodies such as banks and insurance companies.
Windward Company from Israel, founded in 2010, has developed an AI based technology that provides information regarding global vessel traffic. Windward’s platform integrates data from various sources such as digital information systems of the global maritime trade, vessel’s ownership structure, company’s history, location details provided by AIS (Automatic Identification System), weather condition data, ports’ capacity and more. All this data is integrated in order to provide a snapshot regarding the current location of the ship at any given moment, and to also generate an AI-based forecast regarding expected ETA. Currently, without this system, it is required to ask the shipper for the vessel’s location, and as said – most data regarding arrival times is not reliable.
Container level monitoring
Ami Daniel [pictured above], CEO and co-founder of Windward estimates in a conversation with Techtime that the current crisis is not going to disappear. “The current crisis is the result of a combination of factors, not all of them derived from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the one hand, there are more shipments, while at the other hand infrastructure upgrades are not keeping up with the increasing volume. Larger ships have been built, docks at the ports were expanded, but the infrastructure that handles all the goods has not made the leap – starting from the amount of cranes and tugs in the ports to trucks and trains that supposed to transport the goods to the end customer”.
Windward, which started to be traded on the London Stock Exchange last year, has around 80 clients, to include government companies, energy companies, shipping companies, exporters and financial bodies such as banks and insurance companies that use the system as an instrument for pricing insurance policies. The company lately announced the launch of a new solution, which provides the ability to track the global maritime trade traffic at even a higher resolution – the container level, and not only the ship.
The system, Ocean Freight Visibility, is based on the container number that is included in the Bill of Lading (BOL). Using this number, it is possible to track the container’s location and to alert at real time regarding delays, which allows for the operator to take action in front of its customer. The technology provides daily insights and alerts through emails, and is also capable of being integrated with existing organizational IT systems.
According to the company, the solution is based on analyzing billions of data and databases points from various sources, in order to produce insights and forecasts for the shipping company, and to also provide a complete view of the supply chain. Daniel: “Maritime shippers are the key to effective supply chain, but without the suitable tools they are positioned as responders, as opposed to proactively initiate actions in order to manage predicted faults”.