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If you regularly distribute large files to your ships, the following scenario has probably played out in your shipping company on more than one occasion:
You’re going to send materials to one of your vessels, for instance safety documentation, certificates, circulars, IT documentation, or any kind of documentation that needs to be shared with certain vessels or the whole fleet.
You attach the files to your email, and hit ‘Send’. The files whisk away into cyberspace, and you rely on the recipients onboard to download them when the email lands in their inboxes and make sure they are saved… hopefully in the right place.
Well, there’s just one little snag. You have no way of knowing if the recipients on the vessel-side actually download the files, or whether the downloads were successful. Also, files sent as email attachments can be delayed due to server issues, or the files could mistakenly be considered as spam and thus sent into the junk folder. Some of the recipients may even have overlooked the entire email due to the all-too-familiar ‘inbox chaos’.
Bottom line: How can you be sure that the files you emailed to your ships, will end up where they should?
Email is a highly useful all-purpose communication tool that is massively established in the world of work – shipping included. Having a robust email system in place for business communication between ship and shore is a must-have. Email might be a ‘dinosaur’, but it’s very much alive and kicking. You can trust it to get your message across.
Email’s inherent unreliability, though, lies in what it was never built to do: transfer large files.
This is why you need a file-transfer system you can trust your shipping company’s business data to – a system built specifically to tackle large-file transfer in a challenging connectivity environment.
Dualog has created such a system – it’s called Dualog® Drive.
Here are four key reasons why you should move from email-based file transfer to Dualog® Drive.
To return to the initial scenario, suppose 50 files across 1o emails are being sent from shore to ship or vice versa. Those emails need to be opened one by one, the attachments need to be downloaded, and the files need to be saved in the right location. This file-transfer method is cumbersome and requires manual handling and follow-up. It puts the ‘work’ in workflow.
Transferring files via email is not only time-consuming, it also poses a security risk. An email sent to the wrong address can potentially result in sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Once that email is gone, it's gone. Sure, there might be a recall email function, but this simply acts as a "sorry, please delete my last email" message.
Besides, there can be many different versions of the same file, perhaps saved in various locations. How do you know who has accessed the latest (or one specific) version, and where each one is located?
Picture a three-lane highway with cars moving along. All of a sudden, this big truck comes barreling down the highway, taking up two lanes. What happens then? The whole freeway slows down. In some areas, traffic will grind to a halt until the truck passes by. The infrastructure simply can't support something that large without the regular flow of traffic being disrupted.
In that scenario, cars are regular emails, and that oversized truck is a large file attachment being sent through the email server.
Even if you’re using a modern email client, message size is limited. Gmail, for example, allows messages to be up to 25 MB. File size limits on email attachments are there for a reason – email servers aren’t designed to handle large file transfers. Sending such files via email becomes a hindrance to your day-to-day operations, slowing down or even completely stopping your business communication.
Email systems deal with SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol). Introduced almost 40 years ago, SMTP is the most common standard for mail servers to send and receive messages over the Internet.
One of the many factors that make this protocol ineffective is that it doesn’t support breakpoint retransmission. This means that transfers halting or failing due to unstable connections will not resume where they stopped; they need to start all over again, from scratch.
Email is still a vital communication tool for maritime shipping. Attaching a file into an email is easy, and we all know how it’s done. However, email was never designed to transfer large files – and especially not in low-bandwidth conditions.
Email doesn’t work well for day-to-day file exchange between ships and ship managers onshore. It’s time-consuming and costly, it slows down systems, it’s unreliable due to the human error factor, and it requires too much attention, monitoring and manual handling.
Sometimes you just send and hope for the best – there's no confirmation whether the files were downloaded or not.
The solution? Move from email-based file transfer to a system that ensures optimised transfers between sea and shore at the time and place they are needed.
Transferring large files between ship and shore and vice versa typically causes operational, security and business pains. With Dualog® Drive in place, this process becomes a breeze.
We have built Dualog® Drive to solve all your file transfer and folder updates issues. Not just for the next file replication job in line, but on a continuous basis – for all your day-to-day file replication to come. Unlike email-based transfer, Dualog® Drive puts the ‘flow’ in workflow!
Fleet-wide configuration makes it super-easy to set up and distribute frequently used tasks. Once set up, the task just “rolls along”, without you having to actively monitor it or the recipient having to download and save files manually.
Dualog® Drive allows you to easily synchronise files or folders from any shore location to an entire fleet or group of vessels, or from any vessel to shore. Say you’re a ship manager in a large shipping company. You’re working on various types of documentation in SharePoint, and you need to share the most recent document updates with all vessels within your ship group. The thought of all the “emailing” this will take puts a bit of a damper on your spirits.
With Dualog® Drive, this pain never happens. You simply set up a folder to synchonise to the vessels. When you make changes to documentation in this folder, these changes are automagically transmitted to all vessels, every time, in the most efficient and fastest way possible.
Gone are the days of not knowing what happens to the files you transfer – the system’s live monitoring feature gives you real-time overview of the status of your file transfers.
And on the vessel-side, there is no need to open an email, click on attachments, download files and save them. Information just flows from sender to receiver (and to its correct folder destination) without having to be paid attention to or handled in any way.
Dualog® Drive reduces manual operations to a minimum. For a large fleet, this saves multiple man-hours – and thus costs.
Want to learn how leading shipping companies have implemented and adapted Dualog® Drive to improve their operations? Our latest e-book explores the most common data transfer use cases in maritime and will provide you with ideas on how to simplify and streamline ship-shore data collection and distribution.
Rune Larsen is Service Marketing Manager in Dualog, with responsibilities for user experience design, visual design and marketing of existing and new services. Educated in business strategy and marketing from the Arctic University of Norway, he has more than 25 years of experience from the creative industry, where he worked as a writer, consultant, designer and creative director in various advertising agencies and design studios. He's been orchestrating brand identity projects, design work and brand building campaigns for a wide range of organisations. He brings a passion for great design to the team, never compromising on the importance of the 'experience' part of UX. When not at the office, he enjoys hiking with his wife or is busy being a football coach for his youngest daughter. His fitness regime involves either running or cross-country skiing. Rune is an avid reader of business-related books, and he loves the occasional bottle of Barolo.