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Manually processing demurrage is costing charterers millions of dollars

Manually processing demurrage is costing charterers millions of dollars

(Posted on 28/08/23)

The ‘clipboard, pen and paper’ approach to creating Statement of Facts (SoF) documents is costing the shipping industry millions of dollars a year and leading to errors and inefficiency, maritime solutions company Voyager warns.

Every year, an estimated 120 million events are manually logged by captains, agents, terminals and surveyors all over the world. And apart from the laborious work involved and inevitable errors and inaccuracies, the shipping industry is missing out on tremendous opportunities to increase savings and optimise operations through automation and AI.

A digitalised SoF, which logs events linked to the loading and discharging of a ship, can deliver valuable insights for a business.

However, Voyager, the demurrage and operations management platform for bulk commodity shipping, says that in the non-containerised sector of the maritime transportation industry, 99% of SoFs are still created using a clipboard, pen, and paper.

The SoF is then manually transposed into a PDF and shared via email with third parties – which will then transcribe the information into their own system, normally on a spreadsheet. The PDF gets transcribed into systems along the value chain six or seven more times.

In an era of digital transformation in the maritime industry, this dated method is alarming, said Voyager co-founder and CEO Matthew Costello. “The reliance on traditional paper and pen for creating a Statement of Facts is a massive inefficiency in an industry that employs highly skilled workers. The industry is estimated to spend millions of hours (and dollars) a year on manual SoF processing.”

The inherent challenge with SoFs is the substantial time and effort required to process data, manually enter events into spreadsheets, and review laytime, he explained. “When managing multiple voyages and dealing with SoFs that contain five to ten pages of events, this work can quickly pile up.”

Using an automated SoF parser is essential for charterers looking to enhance their efficiency and minimize cost and risk, said Costello. “Our findings from Voyager’s customers suggest that companies can reduce from up to 90% of the time taken to process a SoF document by employing an automated SoF parser.”

An automated SoF parser can automatically map critical events and calculate laytime – and by managing and automating their demurrage process through a platform, charterers can avoid data entry errors and missed calculations, increase the accuracy of their laytime calculations and ensure that all contract clauses are used correctly.

The use of automation and AI enables a more auditable, transparent demurrage process across the organization and third-party stakeholders, said Voyager co-founder and COO Bret Smart.

“Better real-time data enables better insights. By moving to a digital SoF process, charterers can improve their operational efficiency and also unlock deep insights into the performance of shipowners, terminals, and ports, empowering them to make more accurate and data-driven decisions,” he said.

“Through SoF data, operators can effectively gauge the pricing of specific port calls relative to congestion risk, accurately estimate time for specific port calls, ascertain the probability of incurring demurrage on a specific route, make strategic decisions about acquiring storage space, and negotiate optimal terms and conditions with suppliers, receivers or ship owners. Companies can save significant amounts of money on their demurrage bills as a result.”

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