Information is the lifeblood of the maritime shipping ecosystem for every stakeholder, whether shoreside or at sea. Accessing the right insights at the right time is a prerequisite to maintaining visibility into each voyage, ensuring inspections and certificates are up-to-date, and enhancing commercial outcomes. And yet, the vast majority of maritime shipping organizations still lack an effective way to get that information straight from the source—the vessel.

The constantly evolving nature of today’s maritime shipping industry makes the link between ship and shore more important than ever before. The regulatory landscape is shifting, external factors like weather and port congestion have a high degree of volatility, and operational margins continue to be strained due to a variety of cost drivers beyond the business’s control. By extending connectivity to the vessel, maritime shipping organizations can eliminate inaccuracy and latency while accessing the information that drives stronger, more competitive decisions.

Let’s look at the top five reasons that onboard connectivity is critical in today’s maritime shipping landscape.

1. Data accuracy

High-integrity data has always played an integral role in commercial voyage planning, and its importance continues throughout the voyage. But this data is only as usable as it is accurate and accessible. In fact, 90% of maritime stakeholders say that real-time data access is critical for improving efficiency and productivity. It is important to note that onboard connectivity not only empowers shoreside professionals with information from the voyage at sea. It also equips onboard stakeholders with the information they need, no matter where they are in the world. With a bidirectional data relationship from ship-to-shore, data accuracy and accessibility are both transformed.

When stakeholders in the central office and crew members onboard the vessel are using the same, shared system, knowledge gaps dissolve and a single source of truth takes shape across the entire business. Users on the vessel can account for changes as they occur, and onshore users can rest assured that the information they receive is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. This includes crew information, which is particularly important to maintain safety and compliance.

2. Stakeholder connectivity

Collaboration is key to the success of any voyage, and collaboration between users on and off the vessel is even more critical for maximizing efficiency and maintaining complete visibility.  

An onboard solution enables richer collaboration by linking shoreside and at-sea stakeholders in one, centralized workspace. Users gain the indispensable ability to collaborate and share information in ways that were never before possible, without mountains of email and other barriers to streamlined communication. As a result, the business gains new levels of efficiency and continuity in every voyage workflow.  

3. Certificate management

A single vessel requires dozens of up-to-date certificates and documents, which are crucial to avoiding a safety issue that could have sweeping financial and environmental ramifications. Despite the significance of an oversight, many of today’s certificate management approaches remain largely manual and fragmented.

With an onboard solution, users can access and update certificates straight from the vessel, rather than relying on inefficient communication loops with their onshore operations. While certificate management may seem like a simple function, anyone who has engaged in maritime certificate management knows that it is quite nuanced. Certificates are continually expiring and renewed, making this a dynamic and ever-changing data type for everyone involved. Freed of unwieldy and redundant manual communications to validate certificates for each vessel across every voyage, stakeholders can spend their newfound time on more value-added tasks.

4. Inspections

Inspections are another critical component of vessel safety and compliance. But there is often latency between when an inspection occurs and when it is updated in the system, resulting in costly errors and avoidable delays. In the absence of onboard connectivity, inspections are either updated manually after a flurry of emails or once a vessel returns to shore. Both of these approaches are prone to inaccuracy.

Conversely, connectivity from the bridge empowers crew members to easily update inspections within the system as they occur. This allows stakeholders to not only ensure all inspections are accurate and up-to-date, but also to gain tangible insight from their inspection data and take proactive action. Ultimately, closing the gap between ship and shore when it comes to inspections enables a more performant fleet. 

5. Questionnaires

Questionnaires are integral to providing accurate vessel data, but they can quickly become outdated amid changing ever-vessel details if they cannot be updated directly from a vessel at sea.

A solution that allows crew members to automatically complete questionnaires from the vessel brings new confidence to questionnaire data. As a result, onboard and shoreside stakeholders can make sure that questionnaire information remains timely and error-free—all without adding extraneous layers of time and effort.

Achieve total connectivity at sea with Q88 Onboard

The vessel is the most important asset in the maritime shipping ecosystem, but it still remains largely disconnected from the benefits of digital technology and data-driven decision support. Embracing onboard connectivity as a natural extension of information management is critically important to safety, compliance, and commercial success.

Q88 Onboard provides the ability to review, update, and manage key vessel data in real time from onboard the vessel, anywhere in the world. The solution is trusted by some of the world’s largest vessel operators in their day-to-day workflows. Available as an add-on for Q88.COM and Q88 Dry, Q88 Onboard is designed to close the critical data gap between shore and sea and empower all stakeholders with the information they need to make the best possible decisions.

If you’re an existing client and are interested in bringing Q88 Onboard to your business, getting started is easy. Simply contact your rep today. If you’re a new client that wants to learn more about Q88’s vision for on vessel connectivity, request a free demo here.