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Turning Global Supply Chain Challenges Into Smart Ship Solutions

Originally published on BCG Digital Ventures Medium Blog

With companies and governments increasingly pricing operational excellence, climate mitigation, and inventory resilience into their supply chain strategies, BCGDV and maritime services leader MISC Group are poised to revolutionize the international shipping industry with deep tech.

After falling dramatically in Q2 2020 during the global pandemic, global trade has rebounded strongly and recorded a full-year drop of only 8%, well on the way to reaching 2019 levels again by 2022-2023. But while demand is back, global supply chains have been greatly disrupted by a lack of structural self-sufficiency, ever-increasing climate concerns, and supply/demand mismatches.

BCGDV’s 2020 coinvestment with international shipping line MISC in three game-changing ventures in marine safety, emissions efficiency, and digitalized inventory management is setting up the shipping trade—which lags in innovation compared to other industries—to achieve the supply chain of the future.

Reflecting on the transformational power of strategically applying digital and deep tech like AI, ML, and IIoT to create massive operational efficiencies across the shipping value chain in a way that has never been done before, Managing Director & Partner and Global Leader of BCGDV’s Energy Practice Sid Shah commented, “With 90% of the world’s goods transported by ships, and considering the fragmented attempts at innovation, we believe these investments are going to be absolutely transformative to the maritime industry, as well as to industries such as mining, energy, and industrial goods.”

All three separate ventures are based in Singapore, a critical hub for BCGDV that was recently placed at the top of the IMD World Competitive Center’s ranking in digital competitiveness. We foresee them being key drivers for the smart ship, which leverages automation and assistive technologies to ensure safety, environmental sustainability, and efficiency.

SOL-X: Redefining Maritime Safety

As an industry-first Safety 4.0 company centered on human factors, SOL-X combines deep industry knowledge with IIoT and predictive AI to improve safety and compliance outcomes, increase operational productivity, and enhance crew well-being. With 66% of maritime incidents caused by human error,, the company’s flagship solution, addresses the core of human factors by combining the Control of Work with crew well-being data to deliver near real-time safety intelligence on the edge. SOL-X recently signed a multiyear fleetwide agreement to partner with Eaglestar and meet the maritime industry’s ever-increasing demands for operational and safety excellence.

Chord X: Advancing Ship Management

Maritime data analytics company Chord X employs sensors, data integration and analytics, machine learning, and human experts to achieve operational and emission efficiency in large maritime assets. It measures emission footprints to support regulatory reporting compliance, enabling increased oversight over carbon tax with greater accuracy than current methods. And the company’s offerings will soon expand to combine analytics with other data sources and a wider range of propulsion fuel types to provide predictive insights for maritime asset operators to weigh decisions, take corrective actions, and optimize performance. Chord X achieves reduced operating expenditures, enhanced reliability, and cleaner combustion.

SparesCNX: Reinventing the Shipping Supply Chain

Automated inventory management solution Spares CNX tracks the life cycle of spare parts on shore and across the fleet. PROPELLER Ship uses RFID, QR, and other imaging technologies to monitor the location and consumption of spares via a tablet that interacts with pretagged spare parts, ensuring the capture and dissemination of accurate and complete information. The accompanying AI-driven analytics platform, PROPELLER Shore, empowers managers and procurement officers with insights and recommendations for stock level optimization, rebalancing, and forward bulk procurement. Spares CNX addresses inventory inaccuracies that cost the global shipping industry up to $2 billion annually, and it is building capabilities to address frictions around FIFO, consumable goods, onshore warehouse partner integrations, and other areas.

“The challenges faced by the shipping industry brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic have forced us to rethink our approaches and operational practices,” added Mr. Yee Yang Chien, President/Group CEO of MISC. “We must be bold in exploring the endless opportunities to further improve operational excellence in various areas including safety and process efficiency.”

Supply chain resilience goes beyond raising inventory levels: companies should build capabilities to absorb disruptions and recover quickly. Leveraging digital tools and deep tech can protect against near-term volatility by adding scenario planning and supply chain transparency.

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