Digital Transformation in Commercial Shipping: Shipbrokers
Posted by Meg MacIver on July 23, 2020

This article is Part II of our three part series which considers the ways Commercial Operators, Shipbrokers, and Charterers utilize The Signal Ocean Platform to improve their performance.  Part I covered Commercial Operators and Part III will address Charterers.

In the fast-paced tanker shipping market, brokers derive an edge from the ability to interpret volatile market conditions. The key to being successful is having the right information at your fingertips. But how can you work efficiently if, in order to have a current view of the shipping market, you have to maintain large databases of vessel positions, cargoes and freight rates, diligently acquire information from market stakeholders through hundreds of personal touch points per day, such as telephone, chat or email, and then spend hours transforming what you learn into vessel position lists?

To be successful, a broker needs to quickly and efficiently consolidate and analyze critical shipping data such as:

  • Which vessels are capable of serving cargoes based on detailed itineraries, vessels characteristics and associated restrictions
  • Prevailing freight rates and associated TCEs (Time Charter Equivalent) per vessel 
  • Which commercial operators have the strongest profit margins by virtue of their fleet position

This is exactly what The Signal Ocean Platform does.

In this article focused on digital transformation in commercial shipping, we demonstrate how the Signal Ocean platform provides commercial insights that help shipbrokers to work smarter and gain an edge in negotiations.

Bringing efficiency in dry bulk and tanker broking with Signal Ocean

Signal Ocean, a software platform that has been developed side-by-side with brokers, charterers and shipowners, leverages artificial intelligence to turn complex data into meaningful market insights for brokers and other market participants.

The platform enables shipbrokers to:

Find the best vessels for a cargo and the best cargoes for a vessel.

Getting the right vessel at the right freight rate and time requires an in-depth understanding of vessels, cargoes and the companies that control them, information about ports and routes, awareness on whether vessels are loading, waiting or discharging and trends in the availability of vessel supply, among other things. 

The system has a variety of filters that allow brokers to narrow down a tonnage list to a precise selection of vessels.  Filters can be applied to a vessel’s commercial availability  as well as particulars, including special vessel characteristics like age, beam, deadweight, LOA, and whether a vessel has been fitted with scrubbers. The associated TCE is automatically updated to take into consideration scrubber status. 

Cargo based Tonnage list including a list of filters and associated TCE per vessel.

Estimate profitability per voyage (TCE)

Ship brokers often need TCE estimations in order to better facilitate negotiations and transactions involving their clients. Signal Ocean enables brokers not only to quickly estimate vessel cost/profitability but also compare it across a range of vessels competing for cargo. The TCE calculator runs automatically including a live update of  market rates, bunker prices, port costs and the actual itinerary of the vessel including any deviation that the vessel might have accumulated.

The Signal Ocean Platform TCE Estimation Dashboard provides a detailed TCE estimation per vessel per cargo, updated with current market rates.

Brokers play a vital role in the shipping industry by collecting and routing the correct information to facilitate transactions. Maintaining an up-to-date database of Fixtures is foundational. Brokers can use The Signal Ocean Platform to facilitate relationships with their clients and they can also use it within their teams to capture market fixtures as they happen. 

Signal has developed a feature called the “Magic Line” which understands shipping language and decodes the relevant shipping data in order to convert it to a standardized format that can be stored in databases. The Magic Line feature can even interpret spelling mistakes and common abbreviations.

The Signal Ocean Platform Fixtures dashboard including the Magic line feature window.

Signal Ocean equips brokers with the advanced technology to stay on top of this challenging information game, allowing them to generate fixture reports easily in order for them to enhance their service to charterers and owners.

To request a free demo of Signal Ocean, click here.

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