Harbor Lab’s data-driven Disbursement Accounting Tool helps drive down port costs, delivers impressive ROI


Products and services from Harbor Lab are not only positively impacting clients’ operating costs (OPEX) but also enhancing their productivity and efficiency, reports the Athens-based firm’s CEO and founder Antonis Malaxianakis (pictured).

One company that is benefitting from investing in Harbor Lab’s DA (Disbursement Accounting) Tool is Hamburg-based bulker shipping company TMA Bulk. Operating a fleet of nearly 30 Handysize vessels, its ships have made more than 350 port calls across the globe since the company’s inception in 2020.

With each port call creating considerable paperwork and time-consuming administration, and with limited access to up-to-date official tariff data for the individual ports, TMA Bulk sought to streamline the port call and disbursement accounting processes through Harbor Lab.
TMA Bulk started working with Harbor Lab in May 2022 and since then has seen a return on investment in our DA Tool of more than 9:1 reducing OPEX and providing an accurate and transparent overview of the costs its vessels accrue in port.

Through the DA Tool, ship operators can appoint an agent at a port, compare prices from different vendors and make decisions based on port tariff data that is obtained directly from the port and validated and uploaded into the software by Harbor Lab’s team of data scientists.
In addition to the port tariff discrepancies identified by the software, Harbor Lab’s dedicated disbursement analysis team produces considerable savings and secures discounts on Agency fees and marine services, such as towage costs. By leveraging the total volume of port calls processed through Harbor Lab’s platform, savings can reach on average nine times the amount a company spends on Harbor Lab’s services.

Oliver Harms, managing partner at TMA Bulk, said: “Harbor Lab has really simplified the nomination process of an agent and helps to make sure costs charged in [the] DA are in line with local tariff[s]. Data-driven decisions, such as those realised through our DA Tool, will become increasingly essential in the modern digitalised industry into which shipping is evolving if companies want to retain their competitive edge.

“However, I believe that to gain maximum benefits from software, the relationship between the client and service provider must be supported by a knowledgeable customer services team that stays with the client throughout the duration of the relationship.”

“We enjoy the professionalism of [the] Harbor Lab team,” added Oliver Harms at TMA Bulk, “as well as the easy-to-use web-based platform which really assists us to keep an overview of port calls, pending DA’s and other needful data. It reduces our costs and is a direct saving on basically every port call we have.”

Since launching in March 2020, Harbor Lab reports that it has received positive feedback from many other end users of its software, through which more than 10,000 port calls have been processed to date. Clients have reported reduced OPEX costs, reduced administration in the traditionally paper-heavy disbursements process, greater transparency on updated port costs and streamlined disbursements processes using a specially created online platform.

“Ship operators can save valuable time and money, seeing a fast return on investment with Harbor Lab’s e-disbursements platform and outsourcing services,” concluded Mr Harms.