Asset Management

Maersk Goes Big in Digital Transformation with Microsoft (HITS)

Global transport and logistics powerhouse Maersk announced on Wednesday that it has joined forces with Microsoft in a strategic move to revolutionize supply-chain management and global trade. Data is a key resource in supply-chain management tasks such as forecasting, planning and tracking customer deliveries. The sheer volume of data Maersk generates presents an enormous opportunity, and one that is largely untapped. With the power of the Microsoft Cloud, Maersk is turning on the data spigot to provide actionable insights for tactical and strategic decision-making and operational efficiencies, as well as to create new lines of business and revenue streams.

“The future of Maersk is very exciting. As a forward-thinking company, it is digitally transforming its massive logistics network to bring even greater value to its customers,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “We are tremendously honored that Maersk has selected Microsoft as its preferred cloud partner for its most critical systems and applications.”

In total, Maersk estimates that the power of data will help save tens of millions of dollars to the bottom line annually. “Our aim is to simplify and enhance visibility in supply chains by providing a seamless end-to-end digital experience for our customers,” said Ibrahim Gokcen, chief digital officer, Maersk. “Microsoft Azure is the cornerstone in our digital strategy, providing one common platform shared by all our transport and logistics businesses. On Azure, we are also creating a marketplace of apps and digital products that improve operations and drive better business decisions.”

Maersk is the largest transport and logistics company in the world with offices in 130 countries and a fleet of more than 1,000 vessels. The company’s container carrier, Maersk Line, sails in all major trade lanes, transporting more than 17 million containers annually, and its terminal operating unit, APM Terminals, is operating in more than 70 ports worldwide. Delays in manufacturing, bad weather, terminal bottlenecks and other incidents routinely cause disruptions to global supply chains. The ability to anticipate, make timely decisions and take swift action is critical when millions of dollars are on the line and unforeseen events impact shipments and business productivity.

Maersk has big plans to leverage digital solutions to revolutionize the way it operates its assets, some of which are already underway. Today every ship is tracked by GPS and connected to shore by satellite communications. Using data generated from flow meters, control and alarm systems, sensors, and time stamps, Maersk can analyze and improve fuel efficiency, reduce port stays and provide better network designs. Maersk Line has also harnessed data to effectively lower emissions per transported container by 42 percent between 2007 and 2016.

Damco, Maersk’s business unit for supply-chain solutions, recently launched several digital supply-chain solutions built on Microsoft Azure. The next app to be launched is a digital app for Customs House Brokerage. The preparation of documents to clear goods is an increasingly important part of the supply chain. Damco’s solution provides customers with outstanding visibility as well as the ability to manage the clearing of goods by exception. The app combines big data from both internal and external sources, which increases the capability for analytics including exception management and predictive analytics. All this plus a top-notch user experience makes it a true differentiator in the industry.

Leveraging Microsoft technologies and advanced analytics, Maersk will integrate container logistics across the value chain to provide reliable, efficient services by increasing the performance of its assets. By providing increased visibility and new products and services, Maersk will increase the predictability of customers’ supply chains to drive cost leadership, and enhanced customer experience and business model innovation. Maersk is also building a digital platform (app store) to turn operational and commercial data into software solutions powered by advanced analytics for its Transport & Logistics division and its customers.

“Eventually Maersk’s vessels and containers and other assets will be generating terabytes of data on operations and activities in real time, and machines and people will be talking to each other, learning things about our operations and our customers that we can’t even imagine now — and they’ll be available as products, for download,” Gokcen said.