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Snowflake supports Cargill’s goal to achieve zero carbon shipping

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Cargill Ocean Transportation (OT) manages 650 ships at sea every single day. Today’s consumers expect brands to help mitigate climate change, and even a large freight-trading organization such as Cargill OT is no exception. Because the company holds “customers at the center of every decision we make,” according to René Greiner, Head of Data and Digital at Cargill OT, this means Cargill OT strives to play its part in protecting the environment. 

Focused on decarbonization, safety and crew welfare, and customer sustainability success, Cargill prioritized its digital strategy, making emissions assessments across its entire supply chain feasible. As a leader in chartering, logistics, operations and risk management of ocean freight, the company’s global operations have a unique view of international trade, and it fully intends on using that status to align with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on regulations as soon as possible. “We want to reduce our carbon footprint by 30% by 2030,” says Greiner. 

The IMO is the United Nations’ specialized agency focused on the safety and security of ocean shipping. In its 2030 agenda, IMO committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050. Scope 3 emissions prove to be the most challenging, as this accounts for all the emissions a company is indirectly responsible for throughout the supply chain. 

The path to better insights into scope 3 emissions was illuminated by data. “I think with emissions, the complexity of decision-making is high,” explains Greiner. “The only way to succeed is to have broader access to a variety of data sets. We needed more structure, and more granular information in order to help the decision-making.”Managing an enterprise’s data is a challenge in itself. As a leading freight-trading organization, Cargill OT has the additional challenge of aggregating and interpreting data from all its supply chain partners. 

The more information Cargill could access and analyze, the better it could plan for zero-carbon shipping. Could it leverage energy-saving devices? When would it be able to introduce bio-fuels? Could ships be retrofitted for wind propulsion? Every stage of its proposed strategy was met by the realization that it needed an unabridged view of its own data, intuitive but governed data sharing capabilities, as well as seamless, governed access to data sets such as weather patterns, maritime shipping transactions, raw emissions data and more. 

“When I arrived here, we had a lot of fragmentation and an old technology stack,” says Greiner. Cargill OT’s legacy technology had a cumbersome process to get data in and out of its data platform, resulting in multiple data silos, Excel files, and disparate access to databases. Bringing them all together for any analysis was an ineffective and costly process. As he explains, “We had to rely heavily on several data silos spread across the organization, and that was not efficient. We needed an easy-to-use solution. Snowflake standardized everything. At the end of the day, Snowflake gives us a one-stop shop for all these capabilities. And we do a lot less work. We can quickly access and share the data whenever and wherever we need it.”

To support IMO’s mission, the maritime industry adopted a new metric—Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII)—which measures a vessel’s efficiency when it is transporting cargo and passengers. CII will be measured and reported starting in 2023 and will be used to provide a rating from A to E for all vessels, A being the best rating. 

The Manufacturing Data Cloud is an integral part of Cargill OT’s CII tracking. Cargill can also track Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI), which helps monitor carbon emissions. All this data is accessible in near real time in its managed data platform, and with the help of Snowflake, Cargill is on track to uphold its commitment to the maritime industry and its customers while maintaining profitability. 

This success would not have been possible without a close partnership with the central Cargill Data Function. By using Snowflake, Cargill OT was able to reduce the costs for data by 60% and increased the speed to market by four times.” says Tim Derrico, Head of Global Data Engineering at Cargill. 

Looking ahead

According to Greiner, “The next part of the journey is to share more data with our customer so that they know, okay, this is my carbon footprint.” Cargill hopes to share near real-time data through Snowflake Marketplace so that consumers can deliver on their sustainability goals and hold Cargill accountable. 

He also plans to accelerate the journey of more advanced technology, such as AI, to create more powerful data insights and enable better decisions to support the zero-carbon shipping strategy. In its ambitious plan to achieve net zero shipping, Cargill has found the perfect partner in Snowflake—working together to build a better, cleaner tomorrow.