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A guide to the maritime software stack

Robust maritime software solutions help shipping companies manage complex vessel operations, optimise fleet routes, and enhance real-time communication. With the sector increasingly adopting digital technologies, the global maritime management software market is expected to register a 10.6% CAGR from 2018 to 2028. 

Whether you are planning to maintain or increase your tech investments, you need a strategic approach. In this blog, we cover the fundamentals of the maritime software stack to get you started.

What you usually encounter in a maritime technology stack

A typical maritime technology stack comprises communication systems, vessel tracking tools, data management software, and integrated platforms. These systems form the foundation of global maritime operations facilitating efficient operations, improved communication, and informed decision-making.

1. Voyage management systems (VMS)

A VMS is a comprehensive software platform designed to optimise complex voyage management processes. VMS functionalities include voyage planning and execution, real-time monitoring, reporting, and post-voyage analysis. 

Voyage management software enables:

  • Streamlined voyage planning: VMS tools centralise and integrate data on weather conditions, vessel performance, and port regulations. These maritime systems use data to ensure vessels navigate the most logical routes. This level of precision enhances on-time arrivals and minimises fuel consumption, reducing operational costs and environmental impact.

  • Real-time monitoring and decision-making: As a performance monitoring system, a VMS provides vessel operators with an unobstructed view of their fleet's current positions. As a ship management system, it enables swift response to evolving situations, ensuring crew, cargo, and vessel safety.

  • Source of truth in collaboration: From shipboard crew to onshore management and external partners, everyone benefits from accessing accurate information provided by the VMS. This transparency and centralisation of data fosters collaboration.

2. Integrated accounting and invoice systems

Integrated accounting and invoice systems combine financial management and invoicing processes within a unified platform for financial tracking and efficiency of maritime operations. Because shipping companies run vast operations that transcend international seas and laws, accounting and finance become complex. 

Companies must process invoices on time and accurately while adhering to compliance regulations. According to OpenEnvoy, a recent study of vendor invoices amounting to $500 million found that nearly 10% were duplicates. Advanced maritime digital solutions can automate up to 90% of voyage payments and invoices thereby reducing duplication and manual errors.

Integrated accounting systems enable:

  • Optimised accounting processes: By effectively integrating data, these systems eliminate redundancy, reduce manual errors, and provide real-time insights into financial health. Organisations can focus more on strategic decision-making and less on administrative tasks.
  • Efficient invoicing and billing: Integrated accounting systems ensure accuracy and transparency from generating invoices to tracking their status. A consistent invoicing experience accelerates payment cycles and improves customer relationships. 
  • Financial reporting: Integrated accounting systems empower organisations to generate comprehensive and accurate financial reports. This capability is key to informed resource allocation and strategic planning.

3. Document management and storage systems

Research by S&P Global reveals that a third of maritime and shipping organisations witness annual data growth exceeding 50%. The maritime industry has to deal with a constant influx of information daily. With significant volumes of emails and attachments, data and document storage pose a major challenge. 

Document management systems enable:

  • Seamless sharing and collaboration: Document management systems offer features like version control, access permissions, and real-time editing. The goal is to ensure that the right stakeholders can access the most accurate and up-to-date documents, thereby reducing the risk of errors stemming from inconsistent information.
  • Data repository: In shipping, a robust data archive is critical. Document management systems provide a secure repository that houses essential documents and historical data, serving as a single source of truth. Whether navigating regulatory compliance or referring to operational procedures, this repository streamlines information access.

4. Planned maintenance systems (PMS)

A PMS empowers organisations to plan, execute, and monitor maintenance tasks, ensuring the optimal functionality and longevity of assets. Think of PMS as the centre responsible for overseeing ship maintenance and operations. It's a smart system that combines technology, efficient processes, and data management to keep vessels running smoothly. 

For example, the PMS might trigger an alert for engine maintenance after a certain number of hours at sea. This way, the shipping company can proactively address any potential issues that may arise.

Planned maintenance systems enable:

  • Better maintenance planning and inventory management: PMS systems leverage real-time data, historical performance records, and predictive analytics to schedule maintenance tasks efficiently. They minimise downtime, reduce operational disruption, and fine-tune resource allocation.
  • Efficient vessel maintenance: PMS tools allow shipowners and operators to plan maintenance and document it meticulously. The PMS builds a comprehensive maintenance history by logging, tracking, and recording each task. This approach facilitates compliance with regulatory standards and expands vessel longevity.
  • Enhanced decision-making: PMS tools can help in analysing maintenance trends, performance metrics, and historical data. Using these data insights, charterers can identify patterns, fine-tune maintenance schedules, optimise spare parts inventory, and allocate resources effectively.

5. Maritime email software

Whether relaying voyage updates, sharing safety protocols, or coordinating cargo movements, email remains an indispensable tool for shipping operations. Without emails, maritime stakeholders, from crew members to port authorities, cannot communicate effectively both onshore and offshore. 

Email management software enables:

  • Unified maritime communication: Whether it's an update on cargo status, a change in routing, or an adjustment to delivery schedules, email serves as the conduit that keeps all parties informed and aligned. This consistent flow of information minimises disruptions, enhances collaboration, and contributes to efficient cargo management.
  • Bridging communication silos: Maritime email software centralises all email exchanges and critical shipping information in a single platform. It breaks down barriers, allowing stakeholders to swiftly access, collaborate, and respond within one unified digital ecosystem
  • Better allocation of resources: A good maritime email software will save hours on a daily basis. This time saved can be reallocated more effectively, whether that be optimising voyages, fixing quicker, or analysis of the market. All of these lead to a more profitable team.

📩 Are you looking for an intelligent email management solution? Learn how Sedna employs AI to streamline tasks and cut repetitive work.

The hurdles of a fragmented maritime operations software landscape

With shipping organisations employing multiple maritime management software on a daily basis, a key concern is system fragmentation. For instance, cargo operations may be managed on one platform, shipping route optimisations on another, and compliance tracking on a third solution. Working on more than one screen, switching between multiple windows, and learning to work on different interfaces results in system fatigue — a burden for maritime teams. 

But this challenge goes beyond being just a mere inconvenience of working with different maritime software companies. Shipping professionals have to deal with the cognitive load of processing large volumes of information and performing tasks across multiple systems. And because information comes in through multiple business systems, data often gets fragmented, potentially rendering it ineffective. In addition, data fragmentation can have serious implications such as loss of critical information, errors in communication, and disrupted workflows.

To overcome the challenges of a fragmented commercial maritime software landscape, shipping companies need a centralised solution that can unify all communications in a single source of truth. That's where Sedna’s purpose built maritime email platform steps in — leveraging the power of the supply chain software ecosystem to revolutionise communications. 

Integrate email in your maritime tech stack with Sedna

We often hear from our customers that email management is their most important technology asset. A missed message or overlooked detail could have far-reaching consequences such as disrupted schedules, compromised safety, or regulatory non-compliance, all ultimately leading to lost profits. 

Sedna integrates with your other systems to enrich your messages with data and organise your inbox. Our top capabilities include:

Inbox management 

Shipping professionals exchange thousands of emails every day. Managing this deluge of data can be an overwhelming task. Sedna acts as a digital assistant, helping effectively process large volumes of emails. This way, employees are no longer drowning in an overflowing inbox. 

But it's not just about dealing with the volume. Sedna's shared inbox feature also takes collaboration to a new level. Different teams within your organisation can effortlessly access and share pertinent emails. With everyone on the same page, you avoid confusion or missed opportunities, increasing efficiency along the way.

Intelligent search 

With Sedna's intelligent search capability, stakeholders can swiftly pinpoint the email they need from the vast sea of correspondence. Features such as the “live” and “saved” searches enable admin users to keep track of pertinent conversations, direct mentions, and assigned tasks. The platform can retrieve historical communications, track specific discussions, or access pertinent attachments. No more endless scrolling or frantic searches.

Sedna platform’s search feature

Connected apps

Sedna's platform connects with other tools and applications, eradicating data silos and fostering a culture of collaboration. As a result of our technology partnerships, shipping professionals are able to quickly access the information they need, get a comprehensive view of all pertinent data relating to a particular voyage, and communicate with other stakeholders accordingly. 

Sedna’s connected apps enable the integration of different maritime software systems

Sail ahead with Sedna: Your trusted maritime software partner

Having a purpose-built email platform like Sedna as part of your maritime software stack enables real-time communication, prompt decision-making, and effective troubleshooting. Our approach unburdens your team from cluttered inboxes and minimises the hurdles of a fragmented maritime technology landscape. 

See for  yourself. Book a demo with us.

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