Interview: How OneOcean is helping to connect the whole maritime industry

Interview: How OneOcean is helping to connect the whole maritime industry
OneOcean’s FleetManager track vessel positions and movement and automatically generates alerts to improve decision-making and operational efficiency.

OneOcean, the supplier of integrated digital software solutions for the maritime industry, was created in late 2019 following the merger of ChartCo and Marine Press. VPO Global’s sister publication, Digital Ship, spoke with two of the key figures behind the merger, Martin Taylor CEO and Nicholas Bourque CSO, to find out how they expect OneOcean’s interconnected maritime technology to shape the future of shipping.

The new company, now known as OneOcean, is the result of two culturally similar organisations, that have been investing in long-term customer-focused solutions, coming together to enhance their presence in the maritime industry.  ChartCo, who specialised in regulatory and e-navigation solutions, and Marine Press, who delivered integrated navigation solutions, wanted to team up with one another after realising the benefits each one could bring to advance the development of solutions in voyage optimisation, environmental compliance, and safety.

The single entity now connects nearly 20,000 vessels, which is reportedly the largest network in the maritime industry today.  The merger was driven by both companies’ desire to considerably increase R&D capacity, enabling them to be at the forefront of delivering simplified tools for ease of compliance while keeping pace with the growing needs of the shipping industry as it progresses through its digital evolution.  The merger increases the company’s scale and geographic footprint, enabling OneOcean to help stakeholders simplify the regulatory hurdles, environmental and safety concerns, navigational and fleet management challenges that shipping players face today.

Martin Taylor, OneOcean’s CEO, and Nicholas Bourque, OneOcean’s chief strategy officer (CSO), are both eager to rapidly accelerate the rate of change in shipping through the delivery of integrated solutions and intelligent data to their customers, enabling them to make smart, effective decisions.

Martin Taylor, CEO of OneOcean

Breaking barriers between ship and shore

As the pace of technology investment, usage of automation and software solutions grow in the maritime sector, the range of opportunities to connect and enable holistic working between ship and shore is growing.  There has been huge growth in the digitisation of operations to improve efficiency. This has resulted in a greater demand for onboard capabilities to be brought shoreside, driving the need for those stakeholders involved in the operation of a vessel to access and share data wherever they are based.

According to Martin Taylor, OneOcean is committed to enabling transparency across all operations, removing the barriers to data sharing to create a more collaborative relationship between ship and shore. “We want to help cement the relationship between ship and shoreside teams by facilitating the rapid exchange of data.  This will enable shoreside teams to undertake analysis and optimisation while freeing up onboard crew to focus on the operational running.  It will enable combined efficiencies, quicker decision-making and ultimately improve the safety through working together,” explained Taylor.

He went on to say that as a result of the merger, OneOcean is placed in a prime position to enhance decision-making between the ship and shore. The firm’s unitary platform works by pulling together data and systems, planning information and compliance, combining them together rather than managing each in isolation to deliver “an accelerated information exchange and ultimately the ability to reduce risk,” added Taylor.

According to Nicholas Bourque, increasing the collaboration between ship and shore also facilitates better structures to help reduce the duplication of work, while gathering greater depth of knowledge and data sets. “The flow of data can then be focused so that the right information is gathered to provide effective and intelligent insights that is useful, relevant and actionable.”

Taylor explained that it’s about having the “flexibility to see the big picture, with the ability to drill down into the detail.” OneOcean’s solutions help to achieve this by automatically flagging anomalies, set according to user preference, including elements such as a weather that will affect a voyage plan, or environmental discrepancies between operations and regulations. “In addition, it highlights a range of issues captains and shore-based crew face in day-to-day ship operations, such as likely late arrivals or possible berth delays, to aid planning,” added Taylor.

Nicholas Bourque CSO of OneOcean

Creating value from long-term partnerships

As part of the goal to drive more informed decision-making, the CEO and CSO of OneOcean note the importance of establishing long-term partnerships with customers. Prior to the merger, both ChartCo and Marine Press were actively investing in long-term customer focused solutions. “We found that customers often struggled to connect all the parts,” said Taylor, explaining that developing new solutions through a partnership is more effective in meeting customers’ needs.

Referring to the evolution of OneOcean, Bourque said, “Like the industry, we too have had to adapt to the digitalisation taking place and invest to keep pace.  Our understanding, investment and adaptability to focus on the future is a strength that we can bring to partnerships and enables us to help our customers move forward and ensure we keep evolving together.”

By merging these two companies, OneOcean gains greater access to a number of partnerships across a whole range of industry stakeholders, including the legislators, flag states, classification societies, ship managers, owners, operators, and inspectors.

“We’re taking some of our key customers and working with them to develop solutions that will make them more efficient. We’re giving them the information they want and need ship and shoreside, building that data set with them and connecting the dots between the data to enable the right, informed decisions,” said Taylor.

Going on to talk further about the value of long-term partnerships in establishing successful customer-driven solutions, Taylor told us, “Historically, the industry has focussed on short-term contracts with suppliers and minimising the cost of commodities in navigation such as ENCs.  Now, this short-term nature is evolving, and the industry is looking to the longer-term, investing today to enable smarter decisions and actions to be made that will drive wider efficiencies.”

Adding to that Bourque explained, “In order to get to next level of cost savings operators need to stop looking at each element separately. When you get suppliers to look at how they could work together, then you can look at how to optimise and make that part more efficient. That is how you will drive large parts of those cost savings and it is part of the reason we created OneOcean.

“As a business we are already bringing together the tools to enable greater operational efficiency.  An example of this would be the combination of environmental regulatory requirements overlaid into passage planning software – enabling visibility and accuracy to be available in one place.  If you add in the ability to complete electronic logbooks and share all of this information between ship and shore, it becomes easier to manage the compliance requirements, provide enhanced support to reduce risk and create operational efficiencies as the intelligence is built.  We are committed to integrating with other maritime players to provide the richest information and efficient solutions for our customers.”

According to Bourque, moving forward with this approach is more possible now than it was a few years ago thanks to a change in mindset regarding the adoption of digital technology. “There are still a lot of people trying to figure out how these new solutions can work for them, but the movement towards digitalisation is well underway,” he confirmed.

Combatting industry complexity

“Everyone is modernising their systems individually and at different paces and it becomes a real challenge to get these parts talking together and for companies to adopt new digital technologies at a more rapid pace,” stated Bourque.

Shipping is cyclical in nature and different vessel sectors are progressing with different agendas. This has led to a complex and fragmented industry. “Maritime is renowned for being very profitable sometimes and not so profitable at others. These cycles can put off some investment in the industry, which has, unfortunately, resulted in a fragmented industry,” explained Taylor.

Some legislative driving forces have contributed to parts of the industry evolving quicker than others, however the OneOcean CEO and CSO believe this is not the primary cause of the problem. “There are areas in vessel operations and shoreside operations that could have moved on quickly but haven’t done so,” said Taylor. “Rather, the critical issue is that there are many players involved in a single vessel, and each of these have different challenges that they want to focus on – resulting in a siloed approach to development.”  For example, owners are trying to minimise their spend on vessels, managers trying to keep a vessel compliant and safe and operate in the most efficient way and charterers trying to minimise their costs.  The financial models between these three don’t always coincide to work together for bigger efficiencies,” said Taylor.

“There has been a lot of consolidation in the market and this has occurred on a horizontal level with suppliers, but not so much vertically,” continued Taylor. “This means there are still big gaps between owners, managers, charterers and other stakeholders of vessel management and operations.  We see there is a great opportunity to break these barriers and connect stakeholders for long-term gains.”

OneOcean will tackle this issue by pulling together wide-ranging data sets and systems from various activities across shipping, delivering data that provides value to the customer and simplifies the transition to more digitalised ways of operating.

“OneOcean already has that diverse range of customers and we have a wide range of different managers and owners who work in different ways. Across the almost 20,000 vessels that we are working with and the many shoreside stakeholders, there’s a huge diversity of how people address problems,” said Bourque. “As one company, we are now able to push investment and innovation to connect the wider bodies in the industry, connecting the dots and creating greater levels of transparency for better efficiency.  This will provide the longer-term efficiencies that our customers desire and we will work with them to achieve these.

“The opportunities of digitalisation are huge and exciting.  The OneOcean team are working hard to explore and build upon these further.  As we gain momentum in the digital era of shipping, we at OneOcean want to be a catalyst for change, championing partnerships, insights and long-term efficiencies for our customers,” Bourque concluded.

This article was originally published in Digital Ship’s March magazine. Click here to view the magazine.