How do innovations contribute to the efficiency of the shipping agencies’ work?

  • 14/06/2021
  • 10 分钟

The word “innovation” was a mark at the end of the decade. It was noticeable, in all sectors, the emergence of modern tools capable of optimizing processes. Things were not different when it refers to the efficiency of shipping agencies’ activities. The digital transformation brought various changes – and it is interesting to understand them.

In order to master this subject, we have interviewed Flávia Carvalho, General Manager of Shipping Agency. She brought some interesting insights about this theme. She further approached an important factor to consider: the relation between human and technologic capitals.

Keep on reading if you wish to know more about the impact of technology on the maritime sector!

How do innovations and technology impact on the efficiency of the shipping agencies’ work?

The emergence of management software and automation systems caused a transformation in various sectors. They stimulated a refinement of the communication flow between staff members, shortened the distance between employees and the senior management, and democratized the access to the policies and values of the organizations.

Consequently, several companies – such as the shipping agencies – began to count on advantages, mainly regarding to the efficiency of the shipping agency’s activities. Some of them are explained below:


More and more clients arise seeking better ocean transport and logistic services. Whether in the physical scope or in the digital environment, professionals understood the necessity of optimizing their staff performance.

Carvalho makes some comments on this subject: “To continue adding value to our services and keeping its high quality, we need to have information available in a more agile, accurate and organized way”. In this regard, technology was very useful. It made it possible to accomplish routine activities in a maximized agility, by means of:

  • Automation
  • Processes and documents digitalization
  • Integration, etc.

However, these investments brought good rewards in the short run, once they stimulated the productivity of the employees. By means of access to information and processes automation, it was possible to do more in less time.

Time saving

The improvement in performance of the shipping agencies’ employees also allowed the companies to make economies on resources. After all, by accomplishing their tasks quickly, they started to have more time available. As so, besides managing this resource better, they could also focus on other processes of the company’s core business.

Costs reduction

As it could not be otherwise, more available time and improved performance ended up impacting on the financial results, too. Lower costs – mainly in non-compliances and rework – started to occur. Yet with so many positive points, Carvalho draws the attention to an important factor: the relation human capital versus technology.

At this point, Carvalho talks briefly about the responsibility of professionals for the efficiency of the shipping agency’s work. “The main change is in people – and not in the technology. There is no digital transformation without the right mindset. Many people still believe that the work model will not be altered – and this mentality has to change”.

“Market statistics, for example, are very valuable for clients, but must be of good quality. Data, alone, is merely an attribute. It is the access to the correct information that produces an analysis capable of assisting clients in their decision making.”

What are the technologies in use?

The large number of startups that emerge in the market everyday promise constant news. Carvalho outlines the importance of this matter: “We need to be connected to this world of transformations, which is being introduced by these startups or by the innovation ecosystems, which is the only way to anticipate the news and add value to our services.

These companies and their innovating ideas, together with other segments, tend to move the sector, adding good tools to the routine operations. Many of them have already become a reality, and include:

  • Costumers Service tools or User Experience;
  • AI – Artificial intelligence;
  • Customization attendance softwares – (chatbots)
  • Data driven systems;
  • Block chain
  • Big data

Despite the availability of good options in the Market, Carvalho revisits the relevance of the shipping agent: “I am of the opinion that the shipping agencies will continue as a natural source of information for our clients. They provide more transparency and predictability in the data flow, combined with the port operations planning and performance.”

She adds that “We must to be ready to evolve at the same rate as the data is made available; look towards the services that may be incorporated to the chain of values. However, since the shipping agent is in the middle of the services chain and maintains connections with public and private stakeholders, we are naturally the best data source.”

Which innovations are in course?

The shipping agencies of the future can already rely on some tools capable of refining their efficiency, as mentioned. However, Carvalho points out that their implementation needs to be effectuated. “We are in a digitalization process stage, I mean, the digital transformation. It will provide sharing opportunities beyond the present shipping agencies’ operational structure.”

She further adds that “Along this change, we will have the opportunity to undertake the role of linking several stakeholders of the sector and provide valuable information for the decision making in the companies that appoint us as agents.

In this regard, Carvalho says that she can envisage the ones that will be the top highlights. “We still have a lot to evolve, but we can already say that Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Block Chain will be the protagonists of the sector”, she says.

Although these optimistic expectations are for the future, some results are already coming out: “We have created at Wilson Sons a Boarding Clerk App, and we are in the final stages to release it to clients, which will allow them to access in real time all information of their operations in an ordered format, besides viewing photos and videos.”

What are the potential impacts of the new technologies?

The implementation of innovations in the sector permits us to expect bigger and bigger changes. A complete process automation is one of them. Whereas many people believe that it will occupy the space human players have guaranteed, that is not the intention. Actually, what is expected is that they will have more time to focus on the relationship with their clients.

Furthermore, a reduction of ships waiting time at ports is envisaged, as well as costs minimization. These two factors will release resources that may be reverted to the sector itself and, thus, continuously improving it.

The efficiency of shipping agents’ work is directly connected with innovation. With more time available, more automation, fewer errors, less rework and an efficient communication, we tend to achieve better and better results. These results will be consolidated either by the costumers’ satisfaction or by the productivity of the employees themselves.

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