Navis has acquired the cloud-based “Octopi” TOS as it looks to broaden its offering for smaller container terminals.
Navis, part of Cargotec, has announced the acquisition of Cetus Labs, Inc a Miami-based company that developed the Octopi cloud-based TOS for smaller container and mixed cargo terminals.
“With the addition of Octopi to its software portfolio, Navis is better positioned to support thousands of smaller terminals around the world that are eager to modernise terminal operations, yet lack the technology infrastructure and technical expertise required to support a full-scale Navis N4 TOS deployment,” Navis stated.
Navis has tried several strategies over the years for delivering a TOS product to this part of the market, where the ability of terminals to support large investments in IT is very limited. These include a scaled down version of N4 called Argo, but most recently Navis has focused on lowering the implementation cost of N4, which brought it a lot of success in Latin America in particular.
Acquiring the Octopi TOS represents a step in a different direction. Cetus Labs was a true disrupter when it launched the product in 2016, and its development story can be read in this article (scroll to the end).
To summarise, Cetus found its first customer then developed the first version of Octopi in around 6 months. It featured little of the planning functionality of most TOS systems. In an interview with WorldCargo News at that time Cetus Founder Luc Castera argued that small terminals do not really need most TOS functionality to handle a vessel, and were in fact frustrated by the complexity of TOS applications for handling simple operations.
Castera stressed the need for a simple, user friendly product. “We believe that current TOS offerings are very hard to use and require lots of training. Octopi is easy to use and has a strong focus on providing a beautiful and easy-to-use user interface. We want to build a product that people could self sign-up for and easily start using, without any hand-holding from our team, and we are already close to that. Do you need a Google employee to help you setup Gmail? No. That’s what we are going for with Octopi,” Castera said in 2016.
At a presentation at TOC Americas that year Castera made his point by bringing a wireless speaker on stage during a presentation and connecting to the Octopi TOS at a customer terminal through his phone and the internet. Using Google voice he asked the TOS what the vessel productivity was on a named vessel call. When everyone heard the answer a second later the audience gave a round of spontaneous applause - Cetus was clearly onto something.
Success has followed, Navis notes that Octopi is in use at ten sites in seven countries, and “delivers a cost-effective and easy-to-use TOS solution that enables its customers to better manage their operations in vessel planning and yard management, track cargo and communicate electronically in real-time with their commercial ocean shipping partners”.
"Our customers told us they need a lighter weight TOS solution to improve the planning and execution of operations for their smaller terminals, and to easily connect to the supply chain ecosystem. The demand for greater process standardisation, supply chain control and improved visibility of cargo flows are key focus areas for all our customers," said Benoit de la Tour, President, Navis.
"By joining forces with Octopi, Navis is answering the need to have more TOS options for both standalone small terminals, and those smaller or remote terminals that are part of a larger global terminal operator network. Offering a cloud-based TOS that is intuitive and quick to implement will enable us to serve an entirely new segment of the terminal market. We’re eager about the opportunity for continued growth and innovation and are proud to welcome Octopi and its customers to the Navis family," concluded Benoit de la Tour.