The Rise of Low-Code Development Platforms: How They Are Revolutionizing the Maritime Industry

Gartner predicts that low-code development tools will be responsible for over 65% of application development by 2024. If that surprises you, consider that no-code and low-code development platforms help reduce app development time by an astounding 90%, which translates to significant cost and time savings. But what is the maritime industry doing to reap the rewards of low-code development? Hariharan KP, Head of Service Operations at solverASSIST, offers his insights. 

What Are Low-Code Development Platforms?

Low-code platforms are software development tools specifically designed to enable people with little programming experience to create applications and automated processes. These platforms are characterized by their visual development interfaces, which include pre-built components and templates. Users can create applications by employing intuitive drag-and-drop operations and adjusting configuration settings. 

What Are No-Code Development Platforms?

No-code platforms, on the other hand, are designed for users with no programming experience. No-code platforms emphasize simplicity and accessibility in application development. Like low-code platforms, they also provide visual interfaces with drag-and-drop features. Users can build applications entirely through these visual tools, making these platforms ideal for the rapid development of basic applications.

Technology in the Maritime Industry and the Rise of Low-Code Development Platforms

Historically, the maritime industry has been slow to adopt no-code and low-code development platforms and technologies. They have traditionally relied on custom-built software solutions for fleet management and cargo tracking. This hesitance also stems from significant investments in legacy systems. 

However, the good news is that companies today are finally starting to recognise the benefits of low-code development platforms, signaling a promising shift towards more innovative and efficient maritime operations in the near future.

The maritime industry is embracing digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance operational efficiency and safety. This includes the adoption of sensors and data analytics for real-time monitoring of vessel performance, cargo condition, and fuel consumption. Automation, too, is becoming more prevalent in various maritime operations, such as navigation and cargo handling. 

The maritime sector is also experiencing significant improvements in logistics and supply chain management. Technologies like GPS tracking and real-time visibility of cargo movements are reshaping supply chain operations. The industry is also moving towards common data platforms and standards to improve data exchange and cooperation within the maritime ecosystem.

With efficiency on everyone’s minds, low-code development platforms are a natural addition to a company’s technological portfolio.

Challenges Associated with Adopting Low-Code Development Platforms 

Maritime companies often have highly specialized and complex processes. The range of customization offered by low-code platforms might not always meet the sophistication needed for these intricate operations. Furthermore, many maritime companies rely on legacy systems, which may not seamlessly integrate with low-code solutions. 

Additional challenges include the following: 

  • Data Security and Compliance. The maritime industry deals with a large amount of sensitive data. Adhering to strict regulations and ensuring data security and compliance within new digital platforms is crucial. 
  • Skill Development and Training. Despite the user-friendly design of low-code platforms, there can be a learning curve for staff who are entirely new to such technologies. You should ensure that employees are well-versed in using these platforms to maximize their benefits.
  • Vendor Dependency. Relying on a specific low-code or no-code platform vendor can lead to long-term vendor lock-in. This dependency could limit your company’s future flexibility in choosing different solutions or adapting to new technologies. 

The Necessary Skills to Harness Low-Code Development Platforms 

Is your team equipped to harness the potential of low-code development platforms? The effective use of these technologies requires a range of skills and an understanding of various tools and concepts. For any chance of success, you must prepare and upskill your staff.

  • UI Design Skills. Professionals need to understand how to design user-friendly interfaces using these low-code development platforms. Creating intuitive and effective user interfaces is crucial for ensuring that the applications developed are accessible and efficient for all users, including those on ships and in onshore offices.
  • Process Mapping and Automation Logic. Skills in process mapping and configuring automation logic are essential. Understanding how workflows operate and how to configure these into the system is key to automating processes effectively.
  • System Integration Skills. Integration knowledge is critical, as maritime workers often need to integrate solutions with existing maritime systems, databases, or third-party APIs. This integration ensures seamless operation and data flow across various systems.
  • Data Security Awareness. Awareness of data security and an understanding of cybersecurity are vital for protecting sensitive data. Your team should be knowledgeable about regulatory compliance and privacy laws to safeguard information effectively.
  • Problem-Solving Skills. Analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are important for addressing challenges that may arise during the development and implementation of low-code solutions. Don’t underestimate these soft skills. 

Top Initiatives for Skills Development

To effectively develop the diverse range of skills required for handling low-code development platforms in the maritime industry, you can drive several key initiatives. Firstly, the role of educational institutions and maritime industry associations is pivotal. These educational programs can provide a structured learning path, covering everything from basic principles of low-code development to advanced application design and integration techniques.

Certifications also play a crucial role in this learning journey. These certifications can serve as a benchmark for expertise and commitment to staying abreast of technological advancements.

“With these training and initiatives, it’s possible to make maritime professionals future-ready.” – Hariharan KP. 

Collaboration with technology providers is another essential aspect. These providers can offer more than just tools; they can be partners in the learning process. By collaborating with these providers, your organization can gain access to specialized training and support. 

Lastly, the importance of community engagement cannot be overstated. It is advisable to actively participate in knowledge-sharing communities and forums. These platforms offer a space for exchanging best practices, solutions, and insights related to low-code development platforms. 

Cyber Security Considerations When Adopting Low-Code Development Platforms 

When adopting low-code development platforms in the maritime industry, addressing cybersecurity concerns is paramount to protect sensitive data and maintain your operational integrity.

Data Encryption. Ensure that you encrypt data, both in transit and at rest. This encryption acts as a crucial safeguard against the interception or theft of data, providing a secure environment for information to be stored and transmitted.

Access Controls. Implementing stringent access controls is essential to restrict who can modify or delete data within the applications. Adding an additional layer of security through multi-factor authentication (MFA) significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Regular Security Assessments. Conduct regular assessments of your low-code applications for vulnerabilities. This includes comprehensive code reviews, penetration testing, and scanning for security flaws, ensuring that potential vulnerabilities are identified and addressed promptly.

Patch Management. Keeping the platform, its libraries, and any integrated components up-to-date with the latest security practices is crucial. Regular updates and patch management are necessary to protect against emerging security threats and vulnerabilities.

Input Validation and Sanitization. It’s important to validate and sanitize user inputs and data from external sources. This step is crucial to prevent common attacks like cross-site scripting or SQL injection, which can compromise the security of your system.

Data Backups and Compliance. Regular backups of data stored within the platform, with secure offsite storage, are crucial for recovering from data loss or ransomware attacks. Ensuring compliance with maritime industry regulations and international data protection and privacy laws is also critical.

Cyber Insurance and Data Policies. Why not evaluate the need for cyber insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with cybersecurity incidents? Clarifying data ownership and retention policies, especially when data is stored in the cloud or with third-party services, is essential to maintain control and security over the data.

How Low-Code Development Platforms Are Transforming the Maritime Industry  

Low-code platforms enable you to develop applications and solutions at a significantly faster phase compared to the traditional custom coding method. And, if you’re fortunate, low-code development can also keep you ahead of your competitors.

Custom Application Development

Maritime companies are using low-code platforms to develop custom applications. These low-code platforms provide drag-and-drop functionality and pre-built templates, making it easier for non-technical staff to design applications. This approach allows for the creation of user-friendly interfaces that can be accessed from both onboard ships and onshore offices. 

Rapid Prototyping and Development

Traditionally, maritime companies relied heavily on manual records and Excel sheets for operations. Today, low-code platforms are being utilized for rapid prototyping and development of proof-of-concept applications. This approach allows maritime organizations to experiment with ideas and concepts before committing to full-scale development.

Resource Efficiency

Another key benefit is the efficiency in resource utilization. With no-code and low-code platforms, maritime businesses can leverage their existing staff members, including domain experts who possess a deep understanding of the industry’s unique needs, and low-code platforms enable these domain experts to contribute directly to software development, despite not having traditional coding skills. 

This approach maximizes resource efficiency by utilizing the in-house expertise already present within the company.

Cost Savings

One of the most significant advantages of low-code and no-code platforms in the maritime industry is the reduction in software development costs. Traditional software development often necessitates hiring skilled developers and IT professionals, which can be expensive. 

Low-code and no-code platforms, however, simplify the development process, allowing for the creation of applications with less need for specialized coding skills. This translates into lower costs associated with hiring and maintaining a team of highly skilled developers.

Streamlined Workflows

Low-code development platforms assist in automating and digitizing workflows, including maintenance and scheduling tasks. Low-code applications are also instrumental in reducing manual paperwork and enhancing remote accessibility through mobile-based solutions. The streamlined processes and automated reporting ensure compliance with maritime regulations.

This shift towards low-code solutions marks a significant step in transforming traditional, inefficient processes into streamlined, data-driven workflows, thereby fostering innovation and improving regulatory compliance in the maritime industry.

Seamless Compliance

One of the key features of low-code platforms is their ability to integrate with various data sources. This integration facilitates the generation of automated reports, helping organizations comply with regulatory standards more efficiently. Furthermore, low-code applications can be specifically designed to maintain detailed records of safety-related activities, inspections, and maintenance schedules. 

Another significant advantage is in tracking regulatory updates. Organizations can use low-code platforms to build systems that automatically track changes in maritime regulations and update internal processes and procedures accordingly.

Automated Maintenance

A notable advantage of low-code development platforms is the automation of maintenance processes. For instance, when an engineer logs an incident or task, the application can automatically generate work orders, assign them to the relevant personnel, and notify onshore managers about the developments. 

Real-Time Updates

Users can implement specific custom logic and rules within low-code development platforms to address particular scenarios. For example, they can create triggers and alerts for certain weather conditions affecting navigation or maintenance thresholds. 

The ability to update these platforms in real-time is critical for adapting to the dynamic maritime environment.

Mobile Accessibility

Many low-code platforms support mobile app development, which is essential in the maritime sector, where professionals often require mobile access to applications, especially in remote locations or under challenging conditions. 

Low-code development platforms are just the beginning. At solverASSIST, we take care of your technology, applications, and processes. If you want to boost your profitability and operational efficiency, we can help. 

Contact us for a free consultation