The madness of digitalization

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Sometimes the Dutch language is inadequate. When I ask a random translator to translate the Dutch word “digitalisering” into English, the result is either “digitization”, or “digitalization”. It’s only 2 letters difference, but there is a world of difference between them.

Digitization or Digitalization?

When I start working on the notes I wrote down on paper during a meeting in Word, I am in the process of “digitization”. Or in other words, digitizing information I have on old school paper. Digitization is also taking a picture of a piece of paper and saving it on my computer.

Digitalization, however, goes further. We are going to actually use the data created in the digitization process. To do this, a computer must be able to proces the digitized data. And that is precisely where the big challenge lies.

Uniformity is key

A random example. MXSuite user A has 10 vessels. These 10 ships all have a main engine. That main engine needs maintenance, has spare parts and has running hour counters; we can see all that in MXSuite. But when I browse through the different ships, I see various names for the same main engine: Main engine, M.E., M. Engine, Main Eng, ME, Hauptmotor, Hoofdmotor… And was it a utility M10 or an M10 utility?

Is that a bad thing?

To us, it makes sense that when we see M.E. at one ship and ME at another, that it is probably the same unit. Unfortunately, a computer is less intelligent and does not understand this. It sees two different names that don’t even look alike! One has 4 characters, the other only 2. One ends with a dot, the other with a letter E. Completely different.


Isn’t there a smarter way to go about it? Absolutely. To prevent everyone from using slightly different variations of the same name, MXSuite offers the possibility to give each device a unique code. For example, the default code for the main engine is the number 210. And do you have 2 main engines? Then we call them 210.1 and 210.2.
This makes it possible for a computer to compare data. Because 210 is always a main engine and 210.x is one too.
And yes, that still leaves in effect that it also looks neat to keep names uniform.

Why do we need this?

For that I circle back to the beginning. For digitalization it is necessary that a computer can link different devices. If it can do that, then we have access to valuable information. For example, what is the ratio of corrective maintenance compared to the planned maintenance of the main engine on ship 1 compared to the maintenance on ship 2?
And what does that engine on ship 1 cost in spare parts on an annual basis compared to ship 2?
And how come ship 1 orders so many tools compared to ship 2?
These are all things that can be compared when you set up the database properly.

And now?

Of course, the ideal scenario is that a database is set up correctly right from the start. Unfortunately, in reality, this is often not the case. Then the first step is to give a destincive code to all equipment that is installed on board. It doesn’t even matter very much which encoding you use. Whether it is the SFI code, an in-house developed code, or the code we use internally. As long as it is uniform across the fleet!

And then?

Then it gets fun… We can think about creating dashboards. What elements do you want to measure, compare? We can assist you in designing and creating a wide range of dashboards. Look here for more information and examples.

Are you interested in starting to use your data efficiently and is your database not ready yet? Feel free to contact us to brainstorm about redesigning your database or implementing uniform coding across the fleet, starting with assigning a code to all equipment on board.

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