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ShipsFocus: Digitalisation and the shipping efficiency paradox

ShipsFocus, a Singapore-based startup company with a focus on maritime digitalisation, is looking to achieve “aggregated shipping” by consolidating shipments to reduce port calls and improve financial outcomes for both chemical carriers and their customers while also helping cut shipping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Chye Poh Chua, CEO of ShipsFocus, has seen an inevitable impact coming from technological disruptions and digitalisation on shipping in general and shipbroking in particular.

According to Chua, ShipsFocus offers chemical shipping market data, analytics and research, which are systematically designed in standard periodicals, ad-hoc reports and bespoke research while it is building cloud operational tools for frontline chartering personnel in chemical tanker operating and shipping agency companies with the aim of helping shipping companies embrace digitaliaation at a low cost with as much ease as possible.

Additionally, the company offers ‘linked services’ like aggregated tug as a transition solution to digitalisation.

“While maritime shipping is capital and labour intensive, it’s very much away from the consumer market or the mass public. It’s not a B2C business except for a part of the liner business. The rest of shipping are mainly shipload business which is B2B with not so many customers. So it can stay away from the pressure for a little longer. That’s also why we see digitalisation in the container and logistics business ahead of other segments,” says Chua. He terms the situation neatly as a “shipping efficiency paradox”.

Chua notices that shipping companies have taken a long time to build up their internal systems and processes, and naturally want to protect the resultant efficiency, while people, rather than machines, dominate in the many services, functions and nodes in the maritime chain, and their experience and decisions often have substantial impact to a usually incomparable outcome.

“But now we say, let’s disrupt it with digitalisation, which is saying that many of those systems and processes can and should now be displaced,” Chua maintains.

“Such reliance on people in these services, functions and nodes means when we adopt digitalisation, we need to deal with people first,” he suggests.

Chua is confident that local authorities in his home in Singapore will continue to focus on activities to enhance the regulatory framework and building of infrastructure to help ease the maritime community’s pain of adopting digitalisation.

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