DISCOVER Magazine #6

Optimising the supply chain with One Maritime Data Standard

Published in category: Innovation
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When building a ship, the efficient supply of parts and equipment from suppliers is paramount to the subsequent efficiency of production. With the aim to optimise this part of the process, Boskalis, Van Oord, Royal IHC and Damen Shipyards Group have set up a cooperative initiative called the One Maritime Data Standard. As Koen Burgers, Damen Director Strategy and Business Transformation, and Paul Reekers, ‎Damen Manager Standards and Documentation, explain, the impact of this project on the maritime supply chain will optimise not only production, but also the whole life cycle of a ship.

Understanding the status quo

The motivation for setting up this initiative lies in the fact that businesses are becoming more and more data-driven. “The use of data in companies’ processes is increasing,” begins Koen.

However, compared to the rest of the world, the shipbuilding industry is actually lagging behind. Data processing is currently very much a manual process.

“This causes a lot of so-called transaction costs within our supply chain. Damen experiences this as well as the other partners of this initiative: Royal IHC, Van Oord and Boskalis. And, of course, this involves the hundreds of equipment suppliers within the maritime sector.”

Focusing initially on the supply chain – the purchase and supply of parts and equipment – Koen highlights the goals of the initiative. “What happens now is that we would have to contact a supplier to get the information that we need and then manually enter that information into our system. However, by proper management of this data stream, by using an industry standard database, we can get rid of many of the administrative processes that are inefficient.”

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The pilot project

Faced with the multitude of suppliers involved in the maritime industry, the pilot project set up during the 2017 edition of Europort by Damen, Royal IHC, Van Oord and Boskalis took a more realistic approach. Paul explains: “We started off with the suppliers that deliver relatively large quantities of products on a regular basis. This produced a list of 15 companies.”

“The pilot project includes article data of products that we have ordered from suppliers in the last three years,” he adds.

The information about these articles is put on the database by the suppliers and we will extract the information from the database.

Here, notes Paul, it is important to differentiate between product information and article information. “If you are talking about a light bulb, the product information describes details such as dimensions, the wattage and weight. The article information includes details about the supplier, delivery time and price. For the supply chain optimisation, article information is where benefits of using the external database are quickly seen, therefore we focus on that in the pilot.”

Global effects

How will the findings of the pilot project affect the process management of the maritime industry? “Collaboration drives performance,” says Koen. “Systems like this have existed for a long time in the automotive industry, where it’s simply not possible to supply something without having data coupling. For us in the shipbuilding industry, we are working together with our suppliers to deliver a better product, the quality of which depends on the strength of this relationship. By having a shared ambition to reduce the costs and increase performance within the supply chain, we can increase value for our clients. In this case administrative burden will decrease, we have information readily available and we can increase our responsiveness.”

A notable point about the One Maritime Data Standard initiative is that it stems solely from the Dutch maritime sector. “At the moment there is no worldwide standard,” says Paul. “This is why we are embracing it in order to expand the concept to the wider maritime industry. This will influence the worldwide position of all four participants as well as the whole maritime sector.”

The next step

In closing, Koen is keen to demonstrate the greater potential of improved data handling. “This starts off with the correct and efficient functioning of our supply chain, but it goes much wider than that. Look at the implications for our clients. By improving the integration with our suppliers, we can track and trace every individual part or component that a client has on-board a vessel. This means that the service provision and parts supply during the entire lifecycle of the ship will be much more efficient.”

The One Maritime Data Standard project is implementing for the classification of maritime products, the proven ETIM standard. This standard is already embedded in the installation branch for the structured technical and language independent descriptions of all kinds of product in over 18 countries.

The data pool for the collecting, proving, and distribution of product data is based on the 2BA platform. 2BA is founded by the installation and electro-technical sector and now contains data of millions of different products.

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