Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Digitalisation of Container Freight Takes Another Step Forward

Operational Vessel Schedule Standards Published
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), the non-profit group aiming at full digitalisation of the box shipping sector, has been especially busy of late. In May it extolled the virtues of digital Bills of Lading and followed up the next month with its Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity interface standards. Now it has published standards for the exchange of operational vessel schedules (OVS).

Presented in conjunction with its nine member carriers, the new standards can be implemented by vessel operators, as well as their Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) partners and operational service providers, to enable automatic sharing of schedule information. The standards can be downloaded HERE and the DCSA says, with the new standards in place, carriers can digitally publish their schedules, and their partners and operational service providers can subscribe to the carrier’s feed to automatically receive updates, or retrieve updates as needed.

The object of this is to provide complete vessel schedule transparency, increasing efficiency and enabling better planning and optimisation of shipping activities and the package includes the DCSA Industry Blueprint 2.0 with OVS schedule definitions and an updated glossary of terms, its Information Model 2.0 together with Data Interface Standards for OVS 1.0 and associated Reading Guides.

In addition to these documents, DCSA has published OVS API definitions on the SwaggerHub open source API development platform, where future enhancements will also be published. Carriers can use the definitions to rapidly implement DCSA standard-compliant APIs for OVS. Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA explained the new publication saying:

“Operational vessel schedules are core to the functioning of the container shipping industry. Digitising them is necessary if we want build a higher degree of effectiveness and efficiency into the fabric of container shipping processes, and this release is an important step in that direction. Once implemented, our OVS standards will, for example, enable a port operator to optimise their operational activities in accordance with the exact arrival time and departure date of a vessel.

“Ultimately, the more transparency and efficiency we build into these fundamental processes the more each stakeholder will be able to trust and benefit in terms of lower costs, increased productivity, greater innovation, a better customer experience, and less impact on the environment.”

The DCSA was created by major ocean carriers intending the digitisation and standardisation of the container shipping industry and includes MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM among its founder members. Yu Kurimoto, Managing Director, Corporate and Innovation for ONE (Ocean Network Express) explained the reason his organisation was keen to chart such a course thus:

“ONE emerged from the legacy of three Japanese liner companies, who historically prided themselves on high service quality and process excellence. From this cherished history we formed our current core values of Quality, Reliability, Innovation and Customer Satisfaction. Furthering these values in the modern era requires greater transparency and interoperability among industry participants.

”OVS is a perfect example of an area in which digitalisation would provide these benefits. We are very pleased to see DCSA taking on OVS with its digital standards initiatives. Their efforts are important for helping ONE and the industry achieve its goals moving forward.”

MSC is another enthusiastic supporter of digitalisation in the industry and the company has its own ‘digital roadmap’ setting out the corporate goals. As well as its support for the DCSA the Swiss group has now joined the Smart Maritime Network, another outfit pursuing similar goals to the DCSA, with André Simha, Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC (and also DCSA Chairman) saying:

“We are pleased to join and support Smart Maritime Network, a platform to further promote and accelerate digital transformation across the shipping and transport logistics sectors. Collaborating with other members to solve key industry challenges is of paramount importance to MSC and there is no doubt that this Network opens up new opportunities for these efforts to become a reality, shaping the future of our industry.”

Photo: MSC is an enthusiastic proponent of digitalisation.