Big Data


Shipping big data can help stakeholders to better understand how ships, cargoes and freight move. We use them to expand the traditional data sets and analytics to offer a more complete picture of the business. By analysing such large amounts of information, both structured and unstructured, we can give clarity in challenges, opportunities and treatment options almost immediately, enabling our clients better decisions and strategic business moves. Here are some examples:


Operators and their ships are part of the trades they enable. From our data, analytics, curated trade patterns and forecasts, they unveil supply & demand insights that empower our clients to better position themselves. You can now better predict and plan for the expansion or re-deployment of your fleet.

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A successful port has to deal with myriad problems including congestion, security and safety issues involving multiple port services providers, users and authorities. Applying available ships AIS data with our domain knowledge, we provide clarity that enables solution development in these issues.


The issues plaguing carriers, port terminals and their customers are not just related to ships’ prolonged port stay, but as much in uncertainty and unpredictability of their turnaround. Our big data applications focus on providing ever clearer data, information and coordination that aim to eradicate such issues.


There are many shipping issues to solve. For a big and far one, our vision is set on Aggregated Shipping which becomes possible with the advent of platform, A.I. & other technologies, a tech-ready workforce and tech-reliant environment. However, like everything else, we start small with practical solutions that give immediate returns to front line personnel and their managers. Cultivating data, parsing data and preparing data is our main focus, without which A.I. in shipping remains as hype. Below are some examples of our A.I. applications:


Shipbrokers currently monitor future ship positions via manual surveys. Applying a predictive algorithm from machine learning based on past and current positional data, we can offer predictable future vessel positions, enabling shipbrokers a better grasp of supply.


Our art in forecasting is today further enhanced by science with better available technologies. With increasing access to wider data sets, A.I. capability, higher computing and data processing power, we now run and find our models much more quickly and accurately.


Some clients require high resolution (port-pairs) and frequency (daily) freight rates for their modeling purpose. These are achieved through machine learning algorithms based on specific time-series data and a continuously tracked market data.


Like all advanced technologies, Blockchain technology probably holds the most promise for maritime shipping and its adjacent industries. However, obstacles that befall its meaningful applications and main stream usage before its maturity are just as great for the time being. Our approach, again is a practical one. We have identified areas where a permissioned Blockchain can offer realistic solution, and are working in these areas. We welcome potential collaborators who believe in creating synergetic value in this regard.



We co-design and develop applications with our collaborators so they minimise customisation cost. All these applications come with a dashboard that simplifies complex data sets, reveals patterns, and for users to monitor business performance at a glance. Our dashboards use data visualization which improves user experience of traditional business intelligence. They are design-focused, thoughtful, user-friendly dashboards and communicate the most important information and metrics with clarity, simplicity, and most of all, accuracy. Below is a couple of examples:




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What is really unique about Chemical Shipping (vis-à-vis other segments of shipping)?

James: 1) other bulk cargoes like oil, ore, or even container liners move in one direction, chemical cargo has more myriad ways of flows to/fro multiple ports and berths. 2) chemical cargo is not generic: there are hundreds of different types of cargoes and grades by multiple producers, users and traders involved. that leads us to: 3) the hardware: chemical ships have multiple segregations. voyage options and decisions for which cargoes to combine to where and how are much more varied, furthermore 4) while there may be some standardisations, many ships are built for specific needs. with this multiplicity of factors, optimal loadable quantity and performance of a ship can be a BIG VARIANCE. ironically, this also makes for an attraction and a low entry barrier into chemical ship operating as each operator believes in his one-upmanship within that big variance.

How is that uniqueness important in what you and ShipsFocus are doing?

James: maritime shipping faces various issues, like in 1) HR: people with great skills and experience are aging and leaving the industry, while new ones are not catching up fast enough; 2) PR: constraints to improving its image as an industry that has a wide spectrum of jobs ranging from off-shore to land-based; 3) TALENTS: shipping lull in the last decade did not help in attracting talents; 4) 24/7 nature it’s hard to sell ‘work-life balance’; 5) SYSTEMS: experience, know-how and network within a knowledgeable person are not captured systematically over time.

Our role is to fill gaps, bridging 3 major gaps: (1) between the ‘Old’ and ‘New’, (2) more and better use of data (3) optimising the ‘variance’ and efficiency. there are not many people in this unique space, and on such pursuits. to make it work, we have to cater to this uniqueness, using our unique knowhow, experience and network.

Which part of your background is most helpful to what you are doing now?

James: I believe it’s my background as a ship-owner and operator. I was with Hanjin first in VLCC and then Aframax, then to Chemical Tankers. that gave me tremendous opportunities adjusting from one to another. there were so many varieties and details in high frequency I had to know and adjust to. i became sensitive to the uniqueness in Chemical shipping. coincidentally, Hanjin was undertaking a PROCESS INNOVATIONS initiative, and I was required to provide inputs for a chartering and operations system, including on how it should work. unfortunately, users had to work for the system when it was developed, not exactly a system i dreamed of.

What is the biggest challenge in marrying tech and shipping, and what is your specific strength in this respect?

James: mainly it’s people’s fixed mind-set that’s the biggest obstacle. people say they are busy, while tech can help, they are reluctant to adopt such change. it’s a chicken and egg issue. our strength is the ability to cater to the specific and minute details that make chemical shipping unique, and the network we’ve gained trust from previous roles we played as shipbrokers. we get better chances than the tech people to hear the pain points and thus introduce the right solutions.