It’s good to talk

Carly Fields talks with Navis about its platform to get ports and carriers on the same page

Carly Fields | Port Strategy | April 27, 2015

The need for greater carrier and terminal dialogue has become a modern day mantra for successful port operations. Repeat it enough times and perhaps it will stick. Or perhaps not.

While industry watchers speak of this ‘coupling’ of two disparate parts of the supply chain, mega ships arrive late into ports that are ill-equipped and underprepared to handle them, revealing just how far apart carriers and terminals are when it comes to joined up thinking.

Navis hopes to bridge this gap with XVELA, its cloud-based vessel stowage platform for ocean carriers and terminal operators.

Launched in November 2014, Navis has been steadily increasing the visibility of XVELA and went all out to promote its benefits at its Navis World event in April.

Port Strategy spoke with Navis senior vice president and chief marketing officer Andy Barrons about how XVELA plans to connect the container handling dots.

“XVELA enables the alignment of the stowage plan between a terminal and a carrier, providing a platform for the two sides to sit at the ‘virtual’ table and collaborate more easily on their operational KPIs for working a vessel.

“At the moment, there are not the tools for the two parties to work together and consequently there’s not enough information being exchanged between the terminal, the previous terminal and the carrier.”

XVELA will utilise a cloud platform to allow stakeholders to see both the ship and the stowage plan and have access to a terminal library and ship profile library. This approach gives an opportunity to improve visibility to the data.

The name itself presses home the collaborative slant: the ‘X’ is for an exchange, a meeting point or a coming together, while the VELA is a constellation in the southern sky, translating as ‘the sails of a ship’.

Powering up

XVELA builds on Navis’ PowerStow solution, which offers co-ordination of container stowage for shipping lines. Its multi-port vessel stowage planning tool is popular, but it is missing that all-important terminal access link which is where XVELA comes in. Where PowerStow allows carriers to manage the vessel stowage plan that could be sent to the terminal, XVELA opens up access to this data for terminals to see the stowage plan as well. This shared visibility will allow terminals to manage the impact of variances such as stowage plan deviations, vessel delays on their operations.

“Navis PowerStow is used by six of the top carriers,” says Mr Barrons, “so the first step with XVELA is to create the libraries and then migrate the PowerStow users into the cloud. This will then create a super group which will encourage others to join.”

XVELA is playing the long game: Mr Barrons anticipates that it will take 18 months to get to a build the platform. First, XVELA needs to build up a terminal library, then build up a ship profile library and migrate the vessel stowage into a multi-tenant application and  appropriate applications, for example for lashing and trim.

The shared data will give both ocean carriers and terminal operators one set of common performance metrics, which XVELA believes will eliminate “data blind spots and reduce subjectivity in the analysis and decision-making process”.

“People are buying into the concept,” says Mr Barrons. On this front, Navis is keen to press the independence of XVELA: “We want to be agnostic, that’s why XVELA is neutral.” It operates as a separate division of Navis, but remains under the executive oversight of Navis president and chief executive Bill Walsh.

‘Buy-in’ on the financial front is also necessary, but it won’t break the bank for terminals: they will only pay when they are working a ship on a software as a service model. On the flipside, XVELA will be subscription based to the carriers and users. “There’s no heavy CAPEX,” confirms Mr Barrons. “It’s a network based business model.”

At the Navis World event, ship operator Matson talked about the importance of real time information and the importance of sharing that information in a timely manner. With that in mind, the operator specifically pinpointed Navis’ XVELA as a as “a huge step forward”. The response from other carriers is said to be “promising”.


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