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  • Writer's pictureRichard Buckley

Chart a Better Route by adopting Management by Exception


The maritime industry has long relied on traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and email to run their business, enable effective communication, and share information. Established decades ago, these systems are no longer sufficient to meet the increasing demands of a 24/7, highly regulated and competitive industry.


In this blog, I will discuss the concept of management by exception, the necessity for real-time information, and the importance of integrating disparate sources of information. I will also highlight the potential benefits of management by exception with a focus on efficiency, risk mitigation, and sustainability.


Management by Exception: A Smarter Approach


Management by exception is a strategic approach that enables decision-makers to prioritise their efforts on situations or events that deviate from standard or expected performance levels, while routine tasks and processes continue to run smoothly. By prioritising critical issues and allocating resources more efficiently, maritime teams can improve overall operational efficiency and reduce risk. This concept is particularly valuable for teams working within siloed departments, as it fosters streamlined collaboration, data-driven decision-making, and increased agility in a rapidly changing environment.


In the dynamic maritime sector, management by exception plays a crucial role in reducing operational disruptions, enhancing resource allocation, and empowering employees to focus on problem-solving and critical thinking.

By adopting this approach, teams can break down communication barriers between siloed departments, minimise disruptions, and maintain smooth operations, ultimately contributing to better overall performance in an increasingly competitive and regulated industry. The key reasons for adopting a management by exception (MbE) approach are:


  1. Efficient use of resources: With lean office-based teams, resources are limited. MbE allows managers to focus their time and energy on critical issues or deviations, rather than being bogged down by daily routine tasks.

  2. Empowerment and autonomy: By adopting an MbE approach, the industry can empower its employees working both on-shore or at sea. This approach encourages them to take responsibility for their tasks and make decisions within their authority. This autonomy can lead to increased job satisfaction, better decision-making, and improved overall performance.

  3. Faster response times: In the maritime industry, time is a critical factor. MbE enables quicker identification of problems or deviations from standard procedures, allowing management to respond and resolve issues promptly. This can help minimise disruptions and maintain smooth operations.

  4. Scalability: As the maritime industry evolves and grows, an MbE approach allows organisations to scale their operations without needing to proportionally increase their office-based team. This approach can handle the increasing complexity of operations whilst maintaining efficiency.

  5. Risk management: MbE emphasises the identification and management of risks. By addressing deviations and potential issues proactively, it helps organisations prevent incidents and accidents, ensuring safety and reducing potential liabilities.

  6. Continuous improvement: MbE fosters a culture of continuous improvement by identifying areas that need attention and encouraging employees to find innovative solutions to problems. This can lead to more efficient processes and better overall performance in the long run.


The Necessity for Real-Time Information


The industry is complex, dynamic, and subject to constant change. Real-time information is crucial for keeping up with these changes and making well-informed and timely decisions. Access to real-time data on vessel locations, cargo status, weather conditions, operational incidents, equipment failures and commercial parameters enables shipping companies to proactively identify and address potential issues, leading to improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced customer satisfaction.


Real-time data fosters a data-driven decision-making process that is vital in the industry's fast-paced environment. By providing managers with accurate, up-to-date information, they can make informed decisions, anticipating, adapting, and responding to changing circumstances rapidly.

In addition to improving responsiveness, real-time data enables maritime organisations to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify trends that may impact operations. This allows for more effective resource allocation and planning, helping to optimise schedules, routes, and maintenance activities.


Lastly, leveraging real-time data enables the industry to embrace innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), to automate processes and enhance decision-making. These technologies can process vast amounts of data and generate insights that help organisations optimise their operations, identify inefficiencies, and make data-driven decisions that drive continuous improvement.


Integrating Disparate Sources of Information


The maritime industry generates vast amounts of data from a multitude of sources, including onboard sensors (Internet of things, IOT), weather information, market dynamics, transactional data, regulatory compliance, and AIS data. These diverse datasets provide valuable insights into vessel performance, maintenance risk, crew management, voyage optimisation, and financial management.


Modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics enable organizations to transform this raw data into actionable intelligence. By integrating and analysing these disparate data sources, stakeholders can uncover patterns and insights, identify bottlenecks, reduce costs, enhance operational performance, and improve safety in the industry.


The Limitations of Legacy ERPs and Email


ERPs and email systems can often fall short in supporting management by exception in the maritime industry due to their limited capabilities and often outdated technologies. In an industry that requires fast-paced decision-making and seamless communication, these traditional systems may struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing demands and complex operational environment.


One of the primary shortcomings of ERPs and email systems is their inability to efficiently handle real-time data. As mentioned earlier, real-time data is crucial for management by exception, allowing for swift identification of deviations and enabling proactive decision-making. However, legacy systems are often slow and cumbersome, unable to process large volumes of data quickly or provide real-time updates. This can result in delayed responses to critical issues, increasing the risk of operational disruptions and negatively impacting overall efficiency.


Additionally, ERPs and email systems often lack advanced features, such as robust data analytics and automation tools, which are essential for supporting management by exception. These limitations can hinder organisations from identifying trends, anticipating potential disruptions, and making informed decisions based on data-driven insights. Their lack of interoperability means they may not easily integrate with newer technologies or allow for seamless data sharing, resulting in fragmented information flow and reduced efficiency.


Furthermore, the reliance on email systems as the primary mode of communication can be problematic in the context of management by exception. Email communication can be slow and unstructured, making it difficult for managers to keep track of critical issues and prioritise their attention effectively. This can lead to delayed responses, miscommunication, and a higher risk of errors.



The Potential Benefits of Management by Exception


By embracing management by exception and real-time information, the industry should expect several benefits:


  1. Operational Efficiency: Access to real-time data enables shipping companies to make timely and informed decisions, streamline processes, and optimise resource allocation, leading to significant improvements in operational and commercial performance.

  2. Operational Risk Management: Real-time information helps shipping companies better monitor and proactively manage risks, such as changing weather patterns, equipment failures and geopolitical events, resulting in reduced operational disruptions and minimised delays.

  3. Sustainability: Improved operational efficiency and proactive decision-making can lead to more sustainable shipping practices, such as optimising fuel consumption and reducing emissions.

To stay competitive and meet the demands of an ever-evolving industry, maritime shipping companies must move beyond traditional ERPs and email, and embrace the power of real-time information and management by exception. By doing so, they can achieve significant improvements in operational efficiency, better manage operational risks, and promote sustainability within the industry.


OpenOcean STUDIO's onRADAR: Always Keeping Watch of Your Fleet, So You Can Focus on What Matters


As highlighted, within the fast-paced maritime industry, it is essential to have a reliable system that monitors your fleet's performance and alert you to any deviations or potential issues. OpenOcean STUDIO's onRADAR is designed to do just that, providing real-time alerts and insights and enabling management by exception.


With onRADAR, you can trust that your fleet is always under watchful eyes, allowing you to focus on the critical aspects of your operations.

By harnessing the power of real-time data, advanced analytics, and seamless collaboration tools, onRADAR ensures that your team can address critical situations efficiently and effectively. onRADAR looks beyond the noise and clutter, helping you navigate the oceans of data and presenting you with a clear, unified and personalised view of what requires your attention. With onRADAR, you can break down silos between departments, streamline communication, and establish a proactive culture to harness opportunities or tackle challenges:


1. Real-time Monitoring and Alerting:

onRADAR continuously monitors and escalates alerts related to a customer's fleet of vessels, capturing real-time data from various sources within the platform and third-party systems such as weather and AIS data. By providing real-time alerts on events like equipment failures, crew changes, charter-party compliance or adverse weather conditions, onRADAR allows shipping companies to proactively address issues, reducing the likelihood of operational disruptions.


2. Automated Alert and Task Generation:

Alerts and tasks in onRADAR can be manually generated or automatically created through specific logic based on predefined conditions. This automation ensures that relevant parties, including vessel captains, are notified promptly when an exception occurs, streamlining the process of identifying and addressing operational deviations.



3. Task Management and Operational Dashboard:

onRADAR includes task management features and an operational dashboard that displays key information and highlights operational issues and alerts across the fleet. This centralised view of fleet performance enables decision-makers to quickly identify and focus on exceptions, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and problems are resolved in a timely manner.


4. Contextual Collaboration with Threaded Conversations:

The onRADAR system includes embedded threaded conversations similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams, enabling seamless communication between all parties involved in an alert or task, whether on-board, on-shore or on-the-go. This feature promotes efficient collaboration, as it keeps all discussions and information exchange related to a specific alert or task in one place, allowing team members to quickly understand the context and contribute to resolving the issue.



5. Customisable Logic for Alerts and Tasks:

OpenOcean STUDIO's event-based architecture means shipping companies can build custom logic to listen for specific events and create associated alerts or tasks when certain conditions are met or exceeded, tailoring onRADAR to their unique operational needs. The flexibility of onRADAR means the creation of these alerts and tasks is based on events from its own modules or any connected systems via APIs.


6. Enhanced Decision-making and Proactive Problem-solving:

With real-time alerts and streamlined collaboration, onRADAR enables shipping companies to make data-driven decisions and proactively address potential issues. This management by exception approach allows companies to focus their resources on solving critical problems, leading to improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced customer satisfaction.


In summary, OpenOcean STUDIO’s onRADAR capability empowers management by exception in the maritime industry by providing real-time monitoring, alerting, and collaboration tools that enable shipping companies to proactively address issues and focus on critical situations. By adopting onRADAR, maritime companies can unlock unique benefits, including improved operational efficiency, reduced risks, and better overall fleet performance.


To find out what’s on your radar contact us…….

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