Maersk tames an ocean of data to ensure your shipment arrives on time

Your life is probably filled with goods, gear and gadgets that traveled the world before landing in your hands.

From electronics to machinery to vehicles, most U.S. imports arrive through ports. Beyond American shores, 90 percent of all global trade runs over the oceans via container vessels, tanker ships and bulk freighters that carry grains, cement or similar unpackaged cargos.

A.P. Moller – Maersk, an integrated transport and logistics company, has achieved 19 percent global capacity market share. By linking manufacturers to retailers to far-flung consumers, Maersk helps anchor the global supply chain, making sure it keeps moving swiftly and smartly.

“Our position and responsibility in global trade gives us a great purpose,” says Ibrahim Gokcen, Maersk’s chief digital officer.

The Danish company relies on Microsoft’s cloud computing services and Azure platform to eliminate bottlenecks in the supply chain. It is digitizing customer interactions, as well as its fleet of more than 700 vessels to better see and predict the locations of cargo and ships.

At the same time, Maersk is digitizing vast seas of trade documents, removing the physical paper flow that can choke the supply chain by delaying when containers are loaded into vessels, when they reach their appointed ports or when they clear customs.

“The magic is really if you digitize these parts of the business then we can create a collaborative port environment where all the players that are interacting within that port can automatically exchange information, and make decisions, making the whole port ecosystem much more efficient,” Gokcen says.

Those waves of data – harnessed through advanced analytics, machine learning and AI – allow Maersk to forecast supply and demand, foresee shipping disruptions or predict equipment failures.

“The problems we solve,” Gokcen says, “have direct impact to populations, to the world GDP (and) to how people receive their cargo.”