Veson Nautical’s commercial maritime freight and fleet management System for owners and tonnage charterers, the Veson IMOS Platform (VIP), has been adopted by Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and NYK group companies, NYK Bulk Project (NBP) and NYK Bulkship (Atlantic).

Nippon Yusen Group will utilize VIP as a maritime business platform to promote digital transformation (DX). In this Veson Nautical and NYK Line Interview, Mr. Tokio Mitsuda, Country Manager of Veson Nautical Japan, asked Ms. Asako Teruki, Executive Officer of NYK Business Systems, who led the enterprise system innovation project, about the circumstances and the purpose of the adoption of VIP. Mr. Hajime Akamatsu, head of DX Promotion Group Smart Work Team of Nippon Yusen, and Mr. Yutaka Kobayashi, Section Manager of Maritime Platform Promotion Department of NYK Business Systems, also provided extra insights.

Commercial Maritime freight and fleet management System the Veson IMOS Platform (VIP) is a maritime standard platform to support a series of voyage operational workflows of maritime contract management, voyage operation, voyage P/L management and bunker management. The system has the capability to integrate with financial accounting systems and other existing systems flexibly and has the function to calculate CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions per voyage.

Nyk Line And Veson Nautical Discuss Voyage Management Innovation Interview Blog Image 01

Mitsuda:  Please enlighten us on the circumstances of the VIP implementation.

Teruki: Since 2013, we have been receiving a VIP proposal from Veson Nautical. We recognized VIP as an excellent system, though we did not manage to adopt it as we just switched over to a new enterprise system. Thereafter, the environment surrounding the maritime industry experienced great changes. Our company seriously considered future environmental changes and upheld the themes to create new values, namely ‘Digitalization’ and ‘Green,’ for our mid-term management plan at the start of 2018.

 Amidst a sweeping trend of digitalization, the importance of utilizing data has become widely recognized and the mindset of the users of a voyage management system has also changed, making the environment ripe for implementing VIP.

I participated in the implementation project for the previous enterprise system and there’s a lot of hard work accompanying the switching of systems. However, through the enthusiasm of the younger members implementing the new system and the importance of passing down current know-how, we decided to implement VIP at the end of 2020.

Akamatsu: The Dry Bulk/Energy Transportation HQ (at that time) had switched from an existing inhouse developed system to the previous package system in 2012. On the other hand, for NYK as a whole, there were some departments using the existing inhouse developed system and also cases where complementing those systems with the use of other maritime systems was a challenging task. This time, the implementation of VIP enables us to merge and reconstruct our voyage management system and utilize it as an integrated platform for our maritime business.

Kobayashi: We become stuck easily if our enterprise system for accumulating data is fragile and troubling. We maintain our competitive advantages through utilizing the system to gather, analyze and visualize all the data. Our purpose is to reinforce the data infrastructure which is the foundation for accelerating DX from now on.

Innovative scalability

Mitsuda: Please tell us the reason for choosing VIP. What do you think of the strengths of VIP?

Teruki:  VIP is newer compared to other competitive companies. It has also been adopted by the major maritime companies globally, and Veson constantly carries out investments and innovations. As it is SaaS (Software as a Service, a service making use of software stored on cloud servers via the internet), it is possible for us to work remotely without stress. It is easy to link with other software and systems, and innovatively integrates with the solutions provided by Veson Platform Partners as a turnkey interface.

Akamatsu: VIP also allows us to reorganize data while standardizing vessel operation processes. Up to this point, due to multiple existing systems, even if an attempt was made to analyze data, it took an enormous amount of time just to extract the necessary data from the systems. VIP is capable of not only extracting the necessary data instantly, but also analyzing and parsing data with various granularity.

Democratization of Data

Mitsuda: What results do you expect from implementing VIP?

Akamatsu: Accurate data shall be able to input correctly at the correct timing. I am looking forward to this with VIP. The greatest objective of implementing VIP is to obtain insights to create a value based on accurate data input. Using appropriate data will improve the precision of analysis and simulation. Grasping the situation in a timely manner can then become possible.

Teruki: Until now, maritime operational data such as DEM/DES (demurrage/despatch) has often been input into Excel and it is deemed sufficient for just the final figures to be correct. However, it has been impossible to make use of the data and analyze it at the company level. This is because the data has been scattered within the company. With the implementation of VIP, while data is integrally managed, the method of operating the data is also rectified so that correct data is input in a timely manner.

Kobayashi: To call it by a grand theme, I would think of it as “Democratization of data”. Up until now, due to the element of individual optimisation in the work processes, it’s been impossible to accumulate correct data and obtaining data has been very tedious. Democratization of data can be realized by implementing VIP through integrating and standardizing business processes, accumulating data, and empowering all users with visibility into the data in a timely manner. I hope other staff can appreciate how interesting their job of creating insights and values through combining data in diverse ways can now be.

Mitsuda: By implementing the Veson IMOS Platform (VIP), vessel operational workflows become standardized. In which areas will competitive advantage be generated?

Teruki: We recognize VIP as a receptacle storing all data involving maritime commercial operations. The sort of data extracted from VIP and the way of analyzing will be different from company to company. Companies differentiate themselves by the way they use the data in VIP. We are required to utilize data fully and respond resourcefully to the demands of the present age.

For Nippon Yusen to become a sustainable corporation, we have been proactively promoting ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) management. Part of this involves incorporating ESG as a new standard and as one of the judgment criteria in decision-making. To carry out evaluation with the ESG standard, we need to have a common platform for maritime business and a mechanism that enables the easy extraction of the required data.

Setting up of VIP user groups

Mitsuda: A VIP user group has been set up in Japan.

Teruki: I think it’s beneficial for the Japan VIP user community to mutually exchange information and be able to share best practices. Even if we implement a best-in-class system, the results and benefits of system implementation will be limited if the method of using it is inappropriate. We will be able to consolidate the needs of VIP users in Japan and send them to Veson. This way, Veson can listen to our needs as a collective, rather than individually. This will open the possibility for the system to become more user-friendly for VIP users in Japan.  

Kobayashi: Participation in the VIP user group is not only restricted to VIP clients but also to those companies that are considering VIP implementation in the near future. We hope that discussions among VIP users can be carried out extensively on areas such as the future direction of the standards for a voyage management system in the Japanese maritime industry and VIP use cases. It’s important to think of implementing and fostering the right and specialized system for the future. If we construct a strong partnership with the system developer to continually improve the system, both parties will benefit.

Mitsuda: It’s also excellent for Veson to be able to hear the voices from VIP users in Japan. The major players in the Japanese maritime industry have been involved in various businesses, whereas many overseas maritime companies have specialised in a specific line of business. Veson must also have recognized this trend. We look forward to creating synergy. Do you have any requests for Veson?

Teruki: We hope that whenever new regulations are enacted and existing rules are changed, the system will be updated accordingly. Furthermore, as the version of the SaaS system will be upgraded automatically, we wish that attention will be also given to quality assurance and supporting businesses with vessel types other than dry bulk, tanker and gas carriers in the future.

On top of that, it’s also worth considering functions supporting optimal fleet allocation. For example, when operating a fleet of 100 ships, we need to know which ship should be allocated for which voyage route to expect the best overall results. When minimizing cost, we will be grateful if we can carry out various simulations including consideration for CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.

Preparing for the next 10 years

Mitsuda: Has it ever been tedious implementing VIP?

Teruki: When we were changing from an inhouse developed system to the previous package system in 2012, opinions were divided within our company. However, considering the situation for the next 10 years, this time we shared a sense of crisis within the whole company, feeling that we would be left behind if we do not change from the current business model to a new one to utilize data actively. As such, there has been no resistance against it at all.

Kobayashi: We have carried out many discussions with many people along the way to calculate cost-effectiveness. Effectiveness changes drastically according to the assumptions we make, and no one can predict the sort of changes that will occur. Finally, we decided to emphasize getting constantly prepared and ready for future changes.

It is clear to us that one major change is related to CO2 emissions. When the provision of CO2 emissions data is required by the charterers, we will need our organization to be equipped to reply speedily. We spent time in the process of carrying out extensive discussions and consolidating opinions.

Akamatsu:  Following the switching of the enterprise system, accounting principles will change to suit the new system, VIP. From now on, we may rarely face tough situations in the process of switching the systems. I think the timing of making the decision to implement VIP was right. At that time, it was an extremely challenging situation for the management though. The stance taken by the top management to look to the future and promote digitalization had been a major force supporting and enabling the judgment to be made in favour of implementation.

Mitsuda: The next 5 and 10 years will move at a different speed from the previous 5 and 10 years and we expect DX to be advancing at an accelerated rate. There is a limit in developing an inhouse voyage management system by an individual company for the objective of not missing the DX wave. This is the reason why VIP has been adopted by over 300 major global maritime companies and charterers. Through providing an industry-standard maritime voyage management system, VIP seeks to contribute towards the further development of the maritime industry.