Due in part to the proliferation of logistics software and advanced data collection tools over the past 10 years, the number of shipping-related accidents dropped 27 percent during the past decade, according to a recent report from Allianz.
While the number of shipping accidents was up slightly - 106 losses in 2012 versus 91 the previous year - the total number of incidents is down from the previous 10-year average of 146 ship losses. While many factors contribute to this overall decline, one of the major reasons cited by the insurer was the increased use of automated data collection methods to better manage distribution routes.
"These figures illustrate that the maritime industry has continued its commitment to improving maritime safety, developing safety initiatives and regulations throughout the year, both reactively and proactively."
Remaining Global Shipping Challenges
While the decades-long downward trend is promising, the uptick in the number of accidents between November 2011 and November 2012 underscores the need for the continued use of advanced supply chain software. After all, Allianz found that 51 cargo ships were lost during the period in question, accounting for approximately 48 percent of all lost vessels last year.
One of the best ways to further reduce this concern is through the use of automated data collection methods. That is because the report found human error to be the most common cause of supply chain issues in 2012. In particular, fatigue, a lack of proper training and economic pressures were cited as the three primary reasons why these mistakes happened.
While the implementation of new industry-wide and legal standards can help to minimize these issues, an automated data collection system can reduce the likelihood of risk even further. In addition, the report recommended that all major players involved in shipping and the global supply chain redouble on their efforts to address the underlying issues causing human errors, and these additional oversight efforts can include more training.
"Regardless of technological advancements and increasing automation, the human element of shipping is still vitally important," the report said. "Some ship owners are proactively addressing this factor by carrying out ‘risk tolerance analyses’ whereby they focus on analyzing the behavioral risk of the onboard management team. This approach tries to minimize momentary errors of judgment, by better understanding drivers of decision making and behavior in maritime operations – which may explain how otherwise explicable human errors can creep into even the most experienced and qualified master’s decisions."