CSA navigates new norm with webinar series
‘THE POWER of Maritime Technology in the Era of Social Distancing’ was the topic for discussion in the Caribbean Shipping Association’s (CSA) webinar on Thursday, May 28, via Zoom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSA was unable to stage its annual Caribbean Shipping Executives’ Conference (CSEC) in May, but the business of the association is continuing with virtual general council and committee meetings.
The scheduled webinars cover relevant topics that are always part of the CSEC to update members on the newest developments in international and regional shipping and supply chain logistics.
In his welcome address to over 100 online participants in last Thursday’s webinar, CSA Vice-President Marc Sampson noted that “this is the first of the CSA webinars that are free and provide a valuable forum for participants to gather useful and current information on shipping in the ‘new normal’ brought on by COVID-19”.
Presenters at the first CSA webinar were Nick Chubb, founder and director of Thetius, and Miles J. Varghese, co-founder of ROCKK3R. They were introduced by Martin Medina, general manager of Caribtrans Logistics LLC, who was moderator of the webinar.
Chubb, the first presenter on ‘The Power of Maritime Technology in the Era of Social Distancing’, founded Thetius in 2019 to serve as a source of intelligence, analysis, and research on emerging technologies within the supply chain, and help industry leaders to understand and prepare for the future.
The three areas covered by Chubb were cloud infrastructure; the Internet of things; and process automation, which included artificial intelligence (AI). He explained how each of these products of digitalisation offered solutions both for improved efficiencies and for social-distancing requirements.
He noted that cloud infrastructure is already proving to be very useful in providing data on COVID-19, with a free ‘dashboard’ being available so that all terminals, shipping lines and agents can track occurrences and coordinate arrangements, where necessary. He said that cloud infrastructure was also being used in the area of detention and demurrage, providing a dashboard that is accessible from anywhere and by all parties so that containers can be tracked globally.
“The Internet of things is connecting the physical world with the digital world,” Chubb declared, adding that the current use of ‘social-distancing wristbands’ that issue a warning if someone comes within six feet of the wearer is an example of this technology at work. With regard to shipping, he said that the digital automation processes currently taking place at ports all over the world are also utilising the internet of things for seamless coordination of the supply chain.
With regard to process automation, Chubb said that this technology is helping maritime businesses to overcome the deluge of papers that gets even worse when there are unplanned incidents that require claims and other special requests. He said that the port computer systems that link Customs to terminals and shipping agents are utilising this technology that improves efficiencies, lowers cost, and lessens human traffic and congestion.
Chubb stated that, among other things, AI utilises algorithms to train computers to draw upon a variety of information sources in order to identify needs that require corrective action. He said that the port of Antwerp was using closed -circuit television feeds to develop algorithms for training computers to recognise security anomalies, ascertain berth spaces and communicate notifications. He also revealed that AI is proving useful in identifying fatigue among seafarers by tracking their eye movements and dilation of their pupils, an application that is useful in determining personnel deployment.
Miles Varghese focused on the role of freight forwarders and the technologies available to them that will prove indispensable in the new normal. He said that freight forwarders are critical to the supply chain, but that they face a number of challenges that include: manual, non-scalable processes; dwindling margins and no economies of scale; the competition from ‘tech-first’ entrants, and shipping lines encroaching on logistics partners through direct booking.
Varghese said that the phone/text/paper processes being employed by most freight forwarders result in a burdensome quoting process, lack of tracking, fragmented communication, and inadequate data storage and analysis. He introduced participants to CARGOLOGIK, a solution for these problems that offers an “all-in-one digital experience for shippers”.
CARGOLOGIK is a multimodal, global tracking dashboard that offers shared document storage, intuitive messaging, quoting and booking. Varghese said that “these features allow freight forwarders to automate and optimise their logistic business with partners, while maintaining social distance”.
Varghese demonstrated the CARGOLINK dashboard at the webinar to show how the shared screen between freight forwarders and their customers facilitate all stages of the process, from quoting to booking, tracking and delivery. The user-friendly online portal facilitates continuous communication between freight forwarders and their customers, and mutual monitoring of the supply chain.
This first CSA webinar included quick surveys and a question-and-answer period that allowed interaction between participants and presenters. One of the surveys asked, ‘How would you describe your work-from-home experience?’ The response from the 102 participants were: great, 31; good, 42; OK, 25; bad, one.
At the end of the webinar, Malaika Capella Ras, deputy general manager of the CSA, asked participants to register as soon as possible for the next CSA webinar on the topic ‘The New Era Cruise Industry after COVID-19’ to take place on Wednesday, June 17, at 10 a.m. The panellists for that webinar will be:
• Richard Vogel, CEO of Pullmantur;
• Alejandro Calcedo Benet, chief development officer – tourism, Puerto Rico;
• Brian Salerno, senior vice-president for marine policy at CLIA;
• Hernan Ayala, past president of the Shipping Association of Puerto Rico;
• Julie-Anne Burrowes, cruise adviser and director of Caribsurf; and
• Gilberto Salcedo Ribero, vice-president of tourism, ProColombia.
These webinars, hosted by the CSA, provide a forum in which matters of great relevance to the survival, growth and development of Caribbean shipping in the new normal are discussed. Members wishing to register for participation in the next CSA webinar should send their request to the CSA by email, addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, for the Zoom link.