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article imageAdvancements with the digital transformation of shipping

By Tim Sandle     Sep 9, 2017 in Technology
Connected trucks are seen as the future of road haulage; similarly, connected ships are seen as an important step for the development of the transportation of goods by sea. A new generation of digital tools are creating smart ships.
The website Ship Technology has issued a report titled ‘The Global Marine Technology Trends 2030’. The report examines the transformative aspect of new technologies on ship design, naval power and the use of ocean space. The report looks at the status of technology now and the state of the industry by 2030.
These themes are in keeping with a speech recently made by Marco Ryan, who is the Chief Digital Officer & Executive Vice-President of Wärtsilä Corporation. Ryan said at Nor-Shipping 2017: “Digital disruption is already affecting the marine sector and will do so increasingly in the future. There is today a subtle, yet significant, shift in thinking at all levels of the industry as we move from closed systems to more modular, secure, and interoperable products and solutions.”
The Ship Technology report identifies two areas of particular importance. These are: “those that will transform ship design and building, and those that will impact safety, commercial and operational performance.” Three areas of interest have been called out.
A worker stands near a crane unloading shipping containers from a cargo ship at a port in Lianyungan...
A worker stands near a crane unloading shipping containers from a cargo ship at a port in Lianyungang
China Daily China Daily Information Corp - CDIC / Reuters
Big data analytics
The use of scanning and sensor technology is leading to voluminous quantities of data being collected. Data is drawn from oceanographic sensors, maritime accident statistics, and meteorology and so on. What the shipping industry has to grapple with is how best to analyze this for the benefit of a shipping fleet?
The solution is the use of algorithms that examine for correlations across different types of data. While this is leading to useful information, the need for cybersecurity and data protection is seen as paramount for ships remain at risk from cyberattack.
Crude Oil Tanker
Crude Oil Tanker
US Federal Govt
Assessing performance
Technology is now available to create ‘smart ships’. Here data can be collected to deliver predictive and pre-emptive insights. An example is with GE’s SeaStream Insight. This provides real-time data about the operational state of ships, and such data can be transmitted remotely to shore to allow for more detailed analysis as required. A second GE platform is Marine Mapper which tracks and monitors ships to provide full visibility on any given fleet. Such technologies also allow shipping crews to carry out maintenance tasks as required, avoiding unnecessary work and downtime.
People look out from a ship at the wreck of Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship in the harbour ...
People look out from a ship at the wreck of Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship in the harbour of the Giglio Port on February 26 , 2014
Filippo Monteforte, AFP/File
Automated ships
In the short term technology will utilize enhanced automation and system autonomy, to aid human crews. In the longer-term it is likely that cargo ships will float the seas without any personnel on-board, simply being controlled from inland. Here technological advances would allow data to be collected from cargo equipment and cargo itself, and this could be communicated to a shore based ship operations hub.
These examples show how the marine industry is rapidly undergoing a digital transformation, implementing new tools to further enhance performance and deliver new efficiencies. Right now digital revolution is hitting the shore. Innovative digital tools are enabling vessel operators to make smart decisions and helping them stay competitive in today’s market.
More about digital transformation, Shipping, connected ships, nautical
 
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