Ask the expert: Deepak Garg
Question: What sort of benefits can software solutions offer the leading shipping companies?
Expert: Deepak Garg, Chief operating officer, Middle East & Africa, IBS Software Solutions
Catering for logistics
IBS is a software service company based out of India with about 15 locations worldwide, including offices in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, London, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney and Dubai. We offer IP (Intellectual Property) solutions to the airline, airport and oil and gas industries.
For the oil and gas sector, our focus is on logistics, and we have invested a lot of time in building a portfolio of solutions specifically for those markets. With a workforce of about 2000, we have been in existence for 10 years and we see the Middle East as probably generating about 20-25 % of our business. Some of our highest growth rates have been achieved in this region.
We started the iLogistics project about five years back with a company called Gulf Share. Gulf Share was a consortium based in the Gulf of Mexico and the major benefits that came out of that system were the ability to share resources across operators and to improve the traceability and visibility of movements.
The solution offers the ability to manage the movements of personnel and materials via air, sea and land. Our marine solution gives greater transparency over the vessel's subsystems, allowing for much-improved vessel activity management.
The system also allows the more efficient planning of on-deck/below-deck stowage, and also makes it easier to calculate cost assessments and check vessel use. In addition, KPI reports on operational efficiency are filed.
There are two aspects to the challenges faced by shippers in the oil and gas industry. Everyone is under the impression that the oil companies are making huge profits, but their logistics costs have gone up significantly, not least, ironically, because of the rising price of oil.
Therefore it becomes important to have optimum working practices and visibility. If you take Hurricane Katrina, the whole evacuation process was managed through our system, because it allows for full traceability.
Another aspect of improving visibility can come from the need to show what assets and equipment companies are renting. On many occasions, firms do not know what they are renting and where they need to return it, meaning that money is continually draining away. Hence, the virtue of adding this kind of system is that they will be able to identify and locate those assets which are used to complete the work.
Another aspect is that oil and gas operators are frequently the first investors into an untapped, resource-rich territory. Therefore, consistency of best practice becomes important in order to get the best from your operations.
The service we provide begins with an assessment of the key business processes your company is looking to change. From there, we go through to training, running as a data centre, running as a hosted service, and making sure you achieve the benefits you wanted to realise when you first put the business case together. So we offer full implementation services and ongoing support and maintenance of the system we provide.
As it dominates this industry, we work extremely closely with SAP and have a good understanding of all of its complexities. We have intercepted and understood where we think the market is going and have invested in building the relevant applications as a result.
By understanding these specific requirements and needs, we've been able to build specific applications for oil and gas, and I think the fact we have mission-critical applications globally is of crucial importance.
There are a whole raft of contractors who have different degrees of literacy so our system has to be intuitive and non-language dependant. We've built that into the interface by working closely with clients and other organisations to understand how we can train personnel up quickly and how we can make sure the system is exceptionally user-friendly.
It's an issue that's very important for this industry because the workforce in the sector has different degrees of capability and there is so much variation in terms of people moving in and out of the sector.