The voyage to digital navigation is still a long journey

Captain Mike Bailey, GNS’s head of navigation products, points out how owners are massively overspending on navigational supplies.

After nearly a decade of downturn, it would be natural to assume that shipowners have done everything in their power to control operating costs and seek efficiencies afforded by the use of business intelligence.

It’s surely a surprise then, to hear that owners are still spending thousands of dollars on navigational supplies they don’t use and that crews are wasting hundreds of hours needlessly correcting navigation charts and publications.

Some 15 years after the first ECDIS performance standard was approved, analysis carried out by GNS of shipping company purchasing habits has identified that many owners who have implemented digital navigation are very far from realising its true benefits.

Instead of achieving the intended operational efficiencies and cost savings, vessels are spending on average 15% more than necessary on navigational products and services – that’s anything between $375 and $1,800 per vessel per year. In some cases as much as 70% of ENCs purchased are never actually used, equating to anything between $1,000 and $5,000 per year.

The solution is not spending more money on hardware or charts. Instead owners need to get a deeper understanding of their usage, needs and opportunities for efficiencies by working smarter, based on data intelligence.

The ability to make these claims is not based on estimation or looking at past orders. Instead since 2015 GNS has used its VOYAGER Insight software to analyse millions of data points from AIS positions, port and flag state data.

Since 2015 VOYAGER Insight has captured 890,000,000 AIS positions for 75,000 vessels above 400 get. The output provides a picture of the areas where a company can be overspending which can be used to refine inventories to match what is really needed and maintain them at the most efficient levels.

So what is behind this hidden waste? We attribute it to one of two things. First, a persistent ‘just in case’ mindset where vessels carry large numbers of digital charts and publications on the off-chance they will need them or second, the need to download ENCs in order to plan routes that the vessel never actually ends up sailing.

Beyond the operational aspects of ECDIS and electronic navigation data, the failure to properly implement an electronic navigation strategy also means some owners are exposing themselves to entirely avoidable safety and compliance risks.

There will be exceptions to every rule but our research suggests that while ECDIS has now reached a tipping point in terms of adoption and application on a daily basis, many shipping companies are still working in ways that are inefficient in terms of cost and time – and as a result are missing out on the tangible benefits of the transition to digital navigation.

Navigation in numbers

  • Research and analysis by GNS has shown that shipping companies are routinely spending 15% more per vessel per year than they need to on charts and publications they don’t need.
  • In a random sample of 10 globally trading vessels analysed by GNS this year the average overspend is an eye-watering $1,300 on navigational publications, $4,600 on paper charts and $1,100 on technical library titles.
  • Navigation overspend is not limited to paper supplies. GNS has found many instances of vessels not using or needing as much as 70% of the electronic charts they are buying.
  • Globally the use of paper navigational charts reduced by more than 30% in the 12 months from July 2016 to July 2017 as shipping companies moved to comply with legislation requiring their vessels to use of ECDIS and ENCs.
  • Navigation-related observations and deficiencies have increased 22.5% since 2013. Deficiencies relating to paper publication corrections more than doubled between 2014 and 2016.


Back to top button