Innovation is a buzzword that gets a lot of press, not least given the increasing adoption of digital products in the wake of COVID-19. However, it is not a new concept. The best definition of innovation I have come across is “the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services”. Indeed, critical to the success of any innovation is the practical implementation – it is not about coming up with the best or most advanced idea but whether it results in an improvement in the underlying practices.
At FLEET, innovation is not a new phenomenon. We have, over the course of our 27-year journey, continually identified and applied technology to improve the services we provide both to our people (seafarers and on-shore staff) and our clients. So, I want to take an opportunity to spotlight a few areas we have been innovating in over the past year and a few more we are looking to innovate in the coming days.
SafeView app – a digitised vessel inspection reporting capability
Whilst COVID-19 has provided a lot of challenges, these have, in some cases, led to areas of innovation. One such example is our new SafeView app, which we have built to address the challenges faced during vessel inspections.
Innovation can come from either internal or external collaboration. For our SafeView app, following an in-depth market review and given our size and experience, we decided to develop something ourselves that would better meet our needs and fully integrate with the PARIS 2.0 ecosystem. We were quickly able to build a new capability through a process of careful prioritisation, iterative development and close collaboration. Our previous experience of developing a remote inspection app for our internal QHSE team certainly helped us and allowed us to integrate all functionalities into this new SafeView app, which is now available on both Android and iOS and fully integrated with our PARIS ecosystem.
While developing the app, we also identified an opportunity to perform research and development on how we could automate some of the steps of the inspection process. The area we set about to test was whether it was possible to build a rust-detection model through the use of Machine Learning / AI capabilities.
Following some initial learnings, we were able to build a machine learning rust-detection model that was able to predict the percentage of rust in a particular image. We are now considering how we can implement this into our new SafeView app to automate and assist the inspection process.
NOVA – the data analytics platform of PARIS 2.0
The second area we have been spending a lot of time innovating is our new NOVA platform. Currently in the pilot phase and awaiting a full-scale rollout soon, NOVA is part of the PARIS 2.0 ecosystem for Analytics and will provide insights to our shore-based staff and clients. A notable benefit of our existing PARIS platform is that it brings together information in a single portal to allow a seamless user experience across different areas. This is something we wanted to ensure we built on with NOVA.
While the core platform of NOVA is fully integrated with our common PARIS 2.0 services, we have been able to embed Tableau capability to view internal dashboards on vessels’ performance. Furthermore, NOVA Navigation powered by Wartsila FOS has been integrated allowing for insights on navigational elements. This means users do not need multiple logins and as we build further dashboards, they can easily view all information through one common platform.
We have built NOVA on our common data architecture hosted in AWS, which allows us to develop new dashboards with ease by making use of data pulled in from both internal and external data sources –meaning NOVA has the capability to provide an ever-growing range of data insights utilising machine learning to provide predictive capabilities. This allows for better operational decision making – by harnessing the data we store and presenting it in a way to help make informed decisions.
Delivering innovation that maximises impact
A key challenge in delivering innovation is ensuring we have the right underlying foundations in place that allows for new products to be launched – something we have set out to do from the beginning so we can then move faster. This is often overlooked, resulting in many innovative products, which on their own are great but cannot then be brought together in providing a fully integrated solution. Owing to our approach, we are now able to pull in data from our new SafeView app to build insights from the data captured through inspections whilst combining this with the data already in PARIS 2.0.
Another area often overlooked that tends to stifle the ability to apply innovation is understanding the need to develop solutions with a cyber-security focus. Getting the balance right between speed to market and ensuring system robustness can be difficult – but it’s critical to get it right. As part of our regular release process, we ensure cybersecurity is embedded into our development pipeline so we create a robust product that can be deployed successfully into production.
While we will continue to explore areas related to machine learning, we are also looking at opportunities to make use of low-code or no-code capabilities. These allow for workflows to be built, improving processes such as communication through products like Microsoft Power Automate. We know technology is usually a key driver for innovation, but it doesn’t always have to be a hard dependency. Everyone can innovate by spotting opportunities in their day-to-day processes for improvement.
With the surge in digitisation across the maritime industry, the pace of growth is ever-accelerating with different technology solutions and platforms. The increasing challenge is being able to focus on the areas that deliver the greatest benefit.
Our focus to drive innovation will continue to centre around identifying opportunities while leveraging our in-house capability as well as collaborating with other third parties to find solutions that benefit our people and customers alike.