Every time a member of their crew changes, marine crew managers must deal with immigration regulations, Covid requirements and travel plans for each person. This is usually done through e-mails with port agents, and quickly leads to a large number of messages being sent in different time zones, especially if many people are leaving or boarding. To simplify the process, Singapore-based Graywing, a marine data platform backed by investors such as Flexport and Y Combinator, today announced the development of an AI chatbot called SeaGPT based on GPT4 technology.
In a statement, Graywing CEO Nick Clarke said email congestion is a problem he’s asking senior managers to address. SeaGPT is the latest in a line of startup tools to automate staffing changes. The current version (Graywing plans to continue developing it and adding new use cases) simplifies the process by automating parts of the communication process, such as drafting emails with important questions and extracting the most important responses from the port agency to specific crew members.
GrayWing’s founder and chief technology officer, Hirishi Olikael, told TechCrunch that CGPT is not a plug-and-play generative AI chatbot, but thanks to GPT 4 advancements and a unique programming approach at sea, it can be.
He added that email overload affects how many fleets a team manager can handle at once and the ability to gather information for decisions. “If a single decision, like a port agent’s change for a crew member, is spread across seven emails and responded to in PDF and Excel files, the potential for human error is high. Also, maritime is a global industry. When time zones are inconvenient, crew managers either 24/ 7 must be present or you will be waiting several days for a callback time.
For example, one of Greywing’s clients had an injured master, who had to be immediately evacuated from the ship. This meant that the staff manager had to find the port closest to the proper medical facilities. But because they were so close to new ports, they had to send a huge amount of emails to coordinate his departure. Ollikel says CAGPT can cut that time from hours to minutes.
So how does SeaGPT work? It is currently available through Greywing’s platform, Slackbot, and a mobile app to add integrations to WhatsApp and Groups. Users can ask SeaGPT questions such as “Set up a group change for me in Melbourne”. O’Kel explains that personnel managers in the process of moving staff members need to know how much it will cost each person to leave and if there are any restrictions, including Covid vaccination requirements and immigration regulations.
After receiving a request, SeaGPT, which is connected to Graywing’s proprietary database covering 18,300 ports, will look at all the data and return with the necessary information. He then asks questions about what kind of ship is involved, the nationalities and names of the people going on board and disembarking. That information is sent to port agents to draft emails for SeaGPT. Questions overlooked by busy cruise managers included, “Can you please advise on any immigration or port state restrictions, if PCR tests are required for shore leave and how much it will cost.
To prevent errors, SeaGPT does not allow illusions, so if the requested details are not available, it will indicate instead of faking information. Emails can be sent through the Graywing platform and flights can also be booked there if necessary.
Olekel explains that when staffing managers respond to emails, they often receive information in different formats. For example, it may be in a list, in a paragraph, or written in different languages. SeaGPT helps with translation (languages it supports include Hindi, Greek, Russian and Mandarin), extracting individual costs and historical costs and entering them into the user’s graying records.
SeaGPT is now primarily intended for communication with port agents, but as Olikel grows further, Graywing wants to help simplify communication between agents, seafarers and masters as structured data into key points of import.
“In the long term, we expect SeaGPT to become a team member or executive assistant, a tool that can easily be flipped to communications when needed,” he said. “It works in the background, retrieving relevant information and handling all communications that don’t require direct involvement, and provides automated decision support to each employee manager.”