Data cuts emissions and enhances customer service
At Wallenius Wilhelmsen, data is helping us carry out analyses that inform everything from our sustainability strategy to our customer service capabilities.
At Wallenius Wilhelmsen data is fundamental to what we do and influences everything from business strategies to the health and safety of our employees. It’s enabling us to better understand our customers’ requirements, and the complexities of their supply chains. Our next step will be to use the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to get even more useful information from this data.
But why is it such a big deal? On one level, it’s about sheer volume. When it comes to the proliferation of online data over the past 10 years, the statistics are indeed jaw-dropping:
On another level, it’s about making use of all that information. This explosion of data represents an opportunity: but that opportunity means nothing if you don’t know what to do with it.
Gathering insights from digital data
We’ve already seen how the effective use of data can help our customers, explains Alex Conjour, SVP Operational Excellence. "We have now started to use various types of operational data across all our activities. Patterns, trends and outliers derived from it create valuable insights that allow us to ask better questions and measure the effect of our actions.”
In terms of quality, we saw a pattern of service failures around tally activities. “Service failures can sit in isolation if not grouped and aggregated at a global level,” says Conjour. “We can also use best practices from one area to apply to another.”
Data enabled us to review and revisit processes and look to deploy new technology to make them more robust. For example, we created a dashboard of operations in near real-time for employees and suppliers involved in vessel operations to monitor loading and discharging status.
Thanks to data, we also have a pretty good real-time picture of time spent in port, port call and berth frequency, scheduling changes, cargo volume flows, and terminal and yard usage.
Data has provided deeper insight into work practices at ports and terminal
How data is making our operations more sustainable
Data is also crucial when it comes to our sustainability strategy. “A data-driven organizational culture goes hand-in-hand with sustainability,” adds Conjour. “More specifically, we can now begin to measure key environmental indicators such as fuel and electricity consumption at our facilities, using the data we’ve analyzed. This is still a work in progress but moving rapidly in the right direction.”
“Data provides the basis for recognizing patterns of events that actions and assessments can then verify,” says Andrew Prior, Senior Manager, Safety, Quality and Sustainability. “We use data for tracking and monitoring all of our sustainability metrics. My team and I will then analyze this data for patterns, to work with the local sites on measures to improve the trends of those data visualizations.”
We are also using data to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our fleet. That’s thanks to big investments in digital infrastructure and sensors onboard vessels that monitor operational parameters such as fuel consumption, shaft power, speed and electricity consumption. The data helps crews determine the optimal route to cut fuel burn and emissions.
We also have a robust safety and quality dashboard which allows us to pinpoint areas and actions for improvement. For example, the safety dashboard indicates a pattern of ergonomic injuries, enabling us to emphasize pre-shift stretching routines at our facilities.
All of this has been made possible by setting up infrastructure in Azure that captures a large share of our operational data. Having all the data in one place allows us to create products combining data from different operational sources. For example, at our terminals there are now touchpoints and interfaces between logistics and shipping services.
We are developing long-term digital solutions relying on data to streamline supply chain operations, improve visibility and reduce port congestion. We will use the latest artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software to analyze patterns, correlations and trends to develop a much more proactive approach to network management – how vessels, ports, and logistics stakeholders interact with each other. Data will alert us to where problems may develop based on current and historical conditions.
“I feel this is possible within the next three years,” Conjour says. “Ultimately, we will create a more stable and predictable product and service level for our customers.”
Data will enable greater streamlining of supply chain operations
A common language that influences decision-making
Data is not a solution for everything, he explains. “Data and analysis will never tell you exactly what to do. But they create a common language that everyone can understand. It’s a language that shows how you are doing when it comes to your actions, and where things might be improved.”
PowerBI, an interactive business data visualization software product developed by Microsoft, has become the tool of choice at Wallenius Wilhelmsen when it comes to understanding data that has an impact on our performance. The natural next step is to use AI. As well as helping us become more sustainable, this will also enable our customers to experience even higher levels of service.
“We’re able to perform much more targeted assessment of needs when we look at granular operational data for a specific customer or segment,” Conjour says. “Often, we can glean insights from that data. And we can end up knowing more about the customer’s logistical challenges than they do themselves!”