Developing, implementing and providing new digital solutions to its customers lies at the core of G2 Ocean’s business.
For many companies in the shipping industry, where the digital transformation is moving slower than many other industries, new developments such as Blockchain, Internet of Things, Big Data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are merely buzzwords.
But not to G2 Ocean. Since the company launched in 2017, it has had a continuous focus on developing and implementing new digital solutions for its customer, employees and partners.
Multiple projects initiated
There have been several and projects within the digitalisation drive of G2. In 2018, the company initiated over ten innovation projects, one of them being the Smart Bill of Lading (B/L) project. This is one of the biggest projects that G2 can be proud of, especially in terms of the implementation and processing of the blockchain based bill of lading.
The project uses blockchain technology to issue and distribute Bill of Lading and other belonging shipping documents, and a pilot trial was successfully completed in co-operation with three of G2 Ocean’s customers in February this year.
“The aim of the Smart B/L pilot project was to digitalize the process of distributing and handling Bill of Lading between all parties involved, and create an agile, cost-efficient and trustworthy means of transferring ownership of the documents,” Vice President Innovation/Project Cargo Leif Arne Strømmen says.
“We recently shipped cargo from China to Peru for one of our biggest customers Manuchar where we used a pilot trial of CargoX’s blockchain-based Smart Bill of Lading Solution successfully.
This is a quick and cost-effective solution involving digital transfer of Bills of Lading issued worldwide. The system completes the document ownership transfer securely and reliably within minutes as opposed to the days or weeks it takes to send a document via conventional methods” Strømmen says.
With this approach G2 are also assisting the customers in preventing delays in operation due to lack of documentation at the POD, damage or loss to the cargo, costly demurrages and at the same time providing safety, security and reliability in documentation.
Blockchain and G2
G2 Ocean considers Smart Contracts based on Distributed Ledgers or blockchain as a unique opportunity to digitalize and automate manual processes between its clients and subcontractors.
“The Smart B/L™ solution allows documents be securely and reliably transferred within a minute – a process taking days to complete before. It is a powerful, modern, reliable, and efficient tool for us and our customers,” Strømmen says.
CargoX, the creators of the Smart B/L™ the industry’s first blockchain-based smart bill of lading, is an independent supplier of public-blockchain-based solutions for logistics looking to transport the global supply chain industry into the 21st century.
To achieve and develop this exciting new product for the supply chain industry, CargoX leveraged the security and decentralized operation of the open blockchain and smart contracts.
This CargoX Smart B/L™ is the first open, neutral blockchain platform in the shipping industry for real-world commercial use and this innovative solution was selected as the winning innovation at the IRU World Congress among 77 startups..
The platform supports several types of bills of lading namely :
- Negotiable Bill of Lading
- Straight Bill of Lading
- Sea Waybill of Lading
Innovation is key
G2 Ocean is also working on developing a new scheduling optimization tool using Machine Learning. The system is being developed by one of the leading AI companies in Silicon Valley.
Strømmen believes digitalization and innovation is crucial to the continued success of any organization, including G2 Ocean.
“To operate more efficiently and profitably, while catering to our customer’s needs, G2 Ocean must continuously develop new business models and offerings,” he says.
The company serves 27 trade routes and has 14 offices worldwide.
“With this global footprint, customers are expecting to receive real-time bookings, cargo tracking and accurate information about their cargo – whenever and wherever,” Strømmen says.
“We want to become more efficient by reducing the various manual processes involved in our operations, avoid delays, and most importantly give our customers more visibility in their supply chain and providing a transparent and efficient service”, he says.
Established innovation team
To drive and support innovation initiatives and projects, G2 Ocean established a dedicated innovation team of three people in 2018.
“In cooperation with employees, our owners and customers, they work diligently to develop and implement sustainable initiatives to reduce cost, lower carbon footprints, enhance safe working environments and increase revenues,” Strømmen says.
Challenges with these innovative digital technologies
“The main challenge by completing innovative projects in co-operation with customers and business partners, is the time and effort that goes into the planning and training. We all have different mindsets and ways of working, and in order to succeed, we must be aligned,” he says.
Strømmen uses the Smart Bill of Lading (B/L) project as an example.
“Since Blockchain is a fairly new technology, many organizations are still unaware of its and how the technology works. Hence, we spent a lot of time prior to the pilot trial building customer trust,” he says and adds,
“Our partners like Manuchar are extremely supportive, and I believe that we have all realized the importance of being at the forefront of technology; it is essential to establishing and maintaining our leading positions in the market,” Strømmen says.
Working with and creating the systems that we require, that is the easy part. But getting people’s buy-in is the most difficult part. This is natural because, as explained earlier, this is all new to everyone.
And in a blockchain, it is not just one or two entities. There are several entities including the customer, customer’s customer, their agents, the port agents, customs, port etc who need to be trained.
All of this takes a lot of time, patience, effort and perseverance.
Behind the development of technology
Strømmen says shipping is behind many other industries in the development of technology.
“The shipping industry has not yet understood the benefits of digitalization, and we are clearly behind many leading Freight Forwarders when it comes to digitalizing the customer journey”, he says.
As many start-up businesses are entering the market and looking for ways to disrupt and create competitive advantages, shipping companies must renew themselves in order to stay alive.
“These new companies are putting pressure on the shipping industry, and they are leaving us with two choices; either adapt or perish”, Strommen concludes.
About G2 Ocean
- G2 Ocean is a joint venture of two of the world’s largest open hatch shipowning companies; Gearbulk and Grieg Star.
- The company was launched in 2017 and is currently the largest deep-sea breakbulk carrier in the world. G2 Ocean also has a substantial fleet of conventional bulk vessels.
- G2 Ocean operates 14 offices and serves 27 trade routes on six continents. In December 2019, the company is opening a new office in Hamburg, Germany.
- Including chartered vessels, G2 Ocean operates approximately 130 vessels; the world’s largest fleet of open hatch gantry crane and jib crane vessels with box-shaped holds to maximise stowage and minimise cargo handling.
- The company makes more than 4000 port calls in more than 70 countries each year.
- The main commodities transported by G2 Ocean are wood pulp and other forest products, aluminum, steels, granite, and industrial minerals. Project cargo is an expanding business area of the company.
Leif Arne Strømmen, Vice President Innovation / Project Cargo
- Leif Arne joined G2 Ocean in August 2018. He came from the position as Global Head Project – Oil & Gas and Marine Logistics for the Kuehne-Nagel Group.
- Leif Arne holds a Master of Management and Logistics, from the Norwegian Business School (BI).
- Previous positions include Director Oil & Gas in Kuehne-Nagel Norway, and Director in the Nor-Cargo Group.