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Tanker Shipping & Trade

Can robots aid tanker operations by mimicking human clerical processing?

Wed 11 Jul 2018 by Craig Jallal, tankers and markets editor

Can robots aid tanker operations by mimicking human clerical processing?
Milaha launches TAM: a robot clerical system

The general increase in regulations affecting shipping, coupled with a shortage of young people entering the industry is something many tanker owners complain about

But it is not just on the ships, but also ashore where there is a shortage of available staff.

Part of the problem is the repetitive nature of many of the back room jobs ashore and on ship.

There is little to incentivise staff tasked with entry, processing and transfer of data.

Milaha (ex-Qatar Navigation), the Qatar-based maritime transport and logistics conglomerate, has become one of the first companies in the Middle East to deploy and integrate robotic process automation (RPA) solutions in its back office operations.

The new state-of-the-art system, codenamed ‘Tam’ by Milaha – which means ‘consider it done’ in Qatari dialect – mimics human activities using software robots and artificial intelligence to perform clerical tasks.

“The introduction of RPA into our operations is part of a company-wide initiative to automate the workplace with the ultimate goal of maximising our efficiency and accuracy, and we are proud to be one of the first Qatari companies to adopt such cutting-edge technology. Tam will also free up our staff to focus on complex higher-value tasks, decision-making, and client engagement. On the other hand, our automation drive directly contributes to the creation of a knowledge-based economy, a key component of Qatar National Vision 2030,” said Milaha chief executive Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai.

The Tam system is initially capable of performing more than 70 transactions in less than 2 hours, which would have taken a worker more than one day to finish. It also functions 24/7, while reducing error rate to 0%.

In addition to integrating Tam, Milaha, which is seen as an innovator in the Middle East maritime sector, continues to assess and adopt new technologies in the workplace to streamline operations, increase efficiency and improve synergies among its various business units and corporate functions.

“The use of robotic process automation is becoming an inevitable requirement for large organisations, and we are already seeing promising results from the new system, particularly with our finance department, which first started implementing it. Using Tam, our colleagues are able to perform within hours what would usually takes days to finish, and we are working with the developer to brainstorm new ways and avenues in which we can integrate the solution,” said Milaha senior vice president - support services Saleh Al-Haroon.

Milaha’s robotic process automation initiative was supported by Roland Berger, a global strategy consulting company and deployed by FourNxt, an innovative tech company which provides artificial intelligence and internet of things solutions.

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