I interviewed René Bendt who discussed IT Innovation in Transportation Industry.







Hi, Dustin. Thanks for this opportunity to tell a little bit ourselves. We are a small software developer, working solely for the transportation industry. When we say transportation industry, it is predominantly for the, sort of, hardcore part of the transportation industry, the shipping lines, the ports, and the terminal operators, and the equipment managers. Even though we're a small company, we are working with some of the big players in the industry, and that means that our software footprint around the world is quite substantial, more than 300 offices around the world are using everyday software developed by ARL, and we have also our software supports more than 750 businesses currently.


One of the, maybe, a little bit peculiar things about us is that whereas our own software unit is anchored in Hong Kong, that our development center is located in Novosibirsk in Central Russia, in Siberia, Central Russia, which is actually the place in the world, which, geographically, is furthest away from any saltwater, and we are solely developing software for deep-sea operations in this location.


In a scale set by the transportation industry, technology innovation is maybe not necessarily development of completely new technologies, but rather looking at other industries, which are faster to adopt new technologies and trying to adapt them in the transportation industry. We consider ourselves an innovative IT company. We are not developing new technologies from scratch, but rather trying to deploy some of the well-working technologies that, for example, the development in the consumer market for hand phones and tablets have been driving forward the last couple of years. We are trying to deploy these in relevant business scenarios in the transportation industry, leveraging some new benefits, harvesting some benefits for the transportation operators that these technologies enable.


Some examples are some of the mobile apps that we have launched over the last years, and I should say that 2016 is the year that this has really kicked off for us. For example, we have built a number of apps which are working in symmetry with some cloud solutions. So the physical operations can interact using a mobile phone with a cloud solution which can then distribute and share what is happening in the real, physical world with the stakeholder in the office or with the other companies.


We're also exploring using some of these standard centers that you see in, for example, [inaudible 00:03:18] mobile phones nowadays, for example, GPS, to detect your location automatically. The app that you see an example of right now is a reefer monitoring app that is used on board business to lock the current readings of a reefer container. Of course, it is reflecting the physical storage on board the vessel based on the bay plan that we import in the cloud and synchronize down to the mobile level.


Now when the deck officer moves around on the vessel and reads the actual containers, he will physically walk on some bridges next to the reefer containers in order to monitor by own eyes the reefer containers, as well as that the app is reflecting how the containers are actually stored. We are now working on using some centers on the mobile device so that when the deck officer is physically moving from site to site from the vessel and up and down on the tiers, that we can automatically detect this movement and automatically locate the container at the current location of the deck officer. So easing the locking of the temperature for that reefer container. Another example is that we are playing with using the microphone on a mobile phone. So we, for example, after some pre-calibration, can detect the ambience of the mainland and maybe detect which ocean regions and other gear is on and off in the engine room simply by using the standard microphones available in a mobile phone.


The shipping industry, like many other industries, are in hefty competition. In many ways, you can consider the shipping industry as a utility industry. It is a core service that is being delivered to its customers transporting goods from A to B. Customers, obviously, would like to make use of this service, but they would also like to make use of it as cheaply as possible. So one of the key drivers in the shipping industry nowadays is to, in a consistent manner, deliver the same service, but consistently also reduce the unit cost time after time.


One of the key tools to achieve that is obviously to apply technology to the same business processes as yesterday but in a smarter way, calling cost out of the supply chain and use of technology is, of course, an obvious tool to support this life.


An example I can give is, for example, that by combining the mobile technologies with some cloud services, we can, for example, write some monitoring sources so rather than monitoring business calling and ports in each individual port where this is taking place, with basic cloud technology, we can provide some monitoring services where you can actually monitor a whole region in one big media wall like the example we see here in front of us. It could be that you are monitoring the arrival or the departure of vessels. It could be that you are monitoring, for example, the performance of reefer containers across a whole fleet or across a whole region from a single location.


And in this way, the technologies and the apps that we provide are contributing to reducing the cost in the transportation industry.


I guess there's not one uniform answer to that question. If there would be, then it would all be obvious to all of us what to do. So let me give some examples of where we believe that we are providing some technology-based solutions that will assist the transportation industry to cut some cost out of their supply chain. An example here is a tablet or mobile phone solution. In this example, it is an Android solution. Typically, we are providing Android-based solutions for operational purposes. So for physical things happening in a port or in a container yacht for example, and we are also provided iOS iPhone solutions, but that's more for desk port, office-style management for mobile usage. We actually also are playing with our first apps running on smart watches.


So the example we're looking at here is an app to lock the handling of break bulk cargo. We have other variance that focus on other cargo types, for example, containers, dry bulk, or [inaudible 00:08:02]. In this case, it is for locking up break bulk cargo boat, the cargo that is being handled, but also, all the stoppages of the handling operation in the port. So the shipping line’s interest and, as well, the terminal operator's interest, is to expedite the vessels as quickly as possible, get the vessel out sailing again as quickly as possible. From the terminal's perspective, that releases the key resources and the major investments in the port, namely the key site itself, the berth and the handling gear, for example, cranes, so that they can expedite the next vessel with the same resources.


From the vessel's perspective, the fact that the vessel is sailing in the sea as fast as possible, so reducing the port today is not just possible, it means that you can sail as slow as possible to the next port, hence burning less [inaudible 00:08:52], less fuel. That's quite a substantial difference in fuel burn when you are increasing the speed. It's not aligning [inaudible 00:09:00].


So in this case, we are locking from the shore-sites the cargo being handled a well as all the blocks of time when the handling gear is not operating and that could be because of some circumstances, which cannot really be changed by... An optimized business process, there could be bad weather, for example.


But also, in many cases, this is something that can be dealt with, can be... The partners, the stakeholders who are working together during the port operation can together optimize the handling process to [inaudible 00:09:38] the vessel faster.


Another example is here, a berth planner, where we are combining a physical map of a port with some augmented reality, so displaying the berth and the plant vessels' arrival on top of each other to allow the planners in the port to plan for as many vessels as possible and possibly to reshuffling of berth locations if a vessel is delayed, for example, or if a vessel has been expedited and is ready for sailing at an earlier time, then it is possible, by this visualization, to quickly plan for how to utilize these resources effectively.



About René Bendt






René Bendt


Director at arl-shipping.com Limited


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