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The Impact of Big Data on Commercial Shipping

How Big Data Could Reshape Commercial Shipping

The concept of big data – the immeasurable amount of data collected from internet-capable user devices – has disrupted many traditional business structures. Commercial shipping and trucking are no exceptions. Tasks that used to be inefficient or even impossible are now achieved easily through digital means. Digitizing the commercial shipping industry can automate key processes, leading to an enormous potential payoff. At a time when global commercial shipping is at an all-time low growth rate, predictive analytics and big data could be the revolution the industry needs to thrive. Fleet managers can take advantage of billions of pieces of information with the right attention to big data.

Big Data in Today’s Shipping Economy

Big data isn’t a new technology – it’s already changed the world’s transportation network. Shipping operators have analyzed their businesses for decades, looking for pitfalls, losses, and ways to profit. Big data, however, isn’t merely a new way to analyze business. It’s a facilitator for collecting data points and analyzing them to optimize a fleet completely. Some managers are already using big data via electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) and telematics to gauge information, such as:

  • Driver behaviors and performance
  • Vehicle data, including tire pressure, cargo status, and reefer monitoring
  • Administrative data, such as driver histories
  • Warehouse information
  • Routing information
  • Store point of sale data
  • Fuel purchases and amounts
  • Cargo temperatures
  • Customer interactions
  • Operating expenses

Big data is proving crucial to improving vehicle safety, performance, and maintenance, making for faster and more accurate issue diagnostics. A growing number of sensors on commercial shipping vehicles are improving the quality of the transportation process. Drivers benefit from big data collected from their interactions and navigation, as it can optimize their scheduling and shipment routes. Data collected from vehicles, including speed, hard braking, and acceleration, can provide company averages for customers to use. There is no aspect of commercial shipping that can’t use big data to its advantage – with the right tools to make use of the information.

Leveraging Big Data in the Shipping Industry

With big data comes great responsibility. The torrent of data industrial equipment creates is massive, presenting unfathomable opportunities. Harnessing this data demands the development of analytic capabilities and tools to meet the stringent requirements of interpreting big data and using it to a company’s advantage. In the transportation industry, fleet managers need the right hardware and software to analyze data created by sensors and telematics. New platforms must be scalable to take on new opportunities, such as big data solutions like Hadoop. A company must also focus on data security, technology flexibility, and orchestrating multiple applications at once.

If a commercial shipping manager can master big data in the modern world, he or she will have incredible advantages and optimization potential. Big data has the power to create valuable new business models, reduce labor costs, and increase productivity. It can make commercial shipping more efficient and profitable, control fuel costs, and improve customer service. Big data may be the key to keeping commercial shipping a well-oiled machine for generations to come.


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