Inventory Management : Addressing a complex problem with a simple solution

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The complex problem

Inventory management is one of the most manual and operational workflows in the shipping industry. Lack of complete solution, time consuming processes and absence of standard operating procedures lead to inaccurate storage and consumption data. Insufficient or unavailable spare parts can lead to vessel downtimes that could cost the shipping company millions in delays and insurance claims. Holding excess inventory will incur significant carrying costs and spare part ageing and degradation problems. According to Clarkson’s Research, spares and maintenance costs in the shipping industry have been steadily on the rise and can constitute approximately 18% of a vessel’s Operating Expenses (OPEX). The manual processes cause additional burden to the crew’s productivity. The existing systems create redundant steps in carrying out the day-to-day operations and hours are wasted every day in finding and locating spare parts on ships.

Moreover, the supply chain disruptions in the last two years have made the task of procurement even more challenging and cost intensive. The whole cycle of events is causing additional pressure on the operating costs and workload on both ship and shore employees. The challenge is to have the right ecosystem between the various stakeholders to optimise the inventory levels across the fleet and increase productivity for both ship and shore employees.

PROPELLER: Simplifying complexity with innovation

SCNX is partnering with shipping companies in digitising their inventories and creating a personalised ecosystem that suits their needs and solves their problems. The SCNX PROPELLER Internet of Things (IoT) solution enables company-wide visibility throughout the supply chain. The PROPELLER product suite integrates seamlessly with existing planned maintenance systems (PMS) / nterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms and consists of three integrated software and hardware modules:

PROPELLER Ship: The portable onboard solution that enables engineers to carry out their inventory-related tasks and operations from any part of the ship or engine room. This system seamlessly works with the PMS system and helps to provide accurate inventory data and automate inventory management operations. This results in saving thousands of dollars in overstock and man hours.

PROPELLER Shore: The high-end data engine for the shore buyer and procurement teams that aggregates vessel data and uses AI and ML to generate dashboards with actionable insight.  Propeller Shore’s valuable recommendations include opportunities for bulk procurement, bundling opportunities and pricing trends to help customers manage and control budgets.

PROPELLER Supply: Currently in pilot with selected suppliers, this module integrates the supplier ecosystem that allows pre-tagging of the spare parts and provides shipping status updates along the supply chain. This leads to better transparency of goods arriving on board

How PROPELLER works:

Onboard workflow is simplified through industry grade IoT tablets with integrated cameras and scanners and RFIQ/QR codes to facilitate accurate inventory updating on the go. Data automatically synchronises with PMS or ERP platforms. Even when tablets are offline or out of range, inventory reconciliation can still be completed once later synchronised – providing total vessel coverage.

Captured data from PROPELLER Ship seamlessly feeds to onshore officers, fleet managers, and procurement teams via our highly secure cloud-based PROPELLER Shore portal. The information converts into actionable insights through AI and ML algorithms. Performance data and trends help vessel operators make better business decisions with fleetwide monitoring and analysis.

Users can quickly gain highlighted inventory details from the ease of a dashboard, such as critical spares levels, parts that need restocking, purchase orders pending delivery & check-in, and equipment tagging/scanning activity. Accurate data and visibility provide competitive advantages while identifying opportunities for inventory optimization.

The digitalization of inventory ensures:

  • An accurate digital starting point for inventory data consisting of right inventory levels, spare-part pictures and digital manuals.
  • Instant savings of over 25% of annual procurement spend proven by our experience of deployment over 50 vessels.
  • Reduction in spare part ageing enabled by FIFO (First in First out) recommendations.
  • Elimination of overstocking leading to reduction in operational expense.
  • Strong boost in productivity by automating manual processes such as stock reconciliation.
  • Establishment of standard SOP’s that ensures sustainable communication and data between ship and shore teams.
  • Continuous cost saving opportunities across the fleet through intelligent recommendations.

What our customer’s say:

PROPELLER is improving well-being and vessel morale by simplifying onboard and shoreside workflow with fun and easy tools to use. “Crews say the PROPELLER portal and tablet are user-friendly, and it’s like playing with a game on their phone. Finding parts is like using a metal detector that pings the location. Engineers can become fluent with the app in a few hours. Even staff who are reluctant at first appreciate using it. They also love the digital equipment manuals stored on the tablets,”


IoT technology has huge potential to unlock value in the shipping industry. According to Mckinsey&Company, over 10% of maintenance costs and 50% of downtime can be addressed with IoT systems. SCNX is challenging the status quo by building systems for frontline workers that focus on user-friendly experiences to improve working conditions and productivity. Utilising cutting-edge digital tools and mobile scanning technology, SCNX simplifies complex inventory management with benefits that scale up the entire value chain.

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