Computers and the software tools driving them have brought us today to an era that thrives on digitization. Technology, data, artificial intelligence and analytics are dictating the pace with which we are advancing. The effortless way we manage our personal and professional affairs was unimaginable a few decades back.
International trade and commerce go hand-in-hand with the achievements of the global shipping network because 90% of the world’s merchandise is carried by ocean carriers to distant corners of the world from their manufacturing sites.
The age-old shipping industry until recently was reluctant to embrace modern technological tools. However, the transforming technological landscape world-over is influencing the shipping industry to shift from its traditional ways. Today they are no less enthusiastic about adapting to newer technology than any other sector.
Ocean carriers, ports and allied services are undergoing a technological facelift. Emerging technologies like Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Machine Learning, The Internet of Things, Drones and Augmented Reality are being channeled to put in a cutting-edge and balanced business landscape to accomplish world trade activities safely and productively.
Let’s look at some of the interesting technologies that will find application in the shipping industry in the times ahead.
Ships are all set to turn smart and autonomous. The MV Yara Birkeland is the world’s first zero-emission, battery-powered, remotely operated autonomous container ship constructed at a cost of $25 million. Built to ferry 120 TEUs, it has a length of 260 feet, a beam of 49 feet and a depth of 39 feet, and is propelled by electric motors that drive 2 azimuth pods and 2 tunnel thrusters. The vessel is berthed at the Norwegian port of Horten and getting ready for the inaugural commercial launch later this year.
In the not too distant future, we will see robots assisting ships in safety, inspection and maintenance. Research is underway to build such robots, and among them is SAFFiR (Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot) under the development of the US Naval Research Laboratory in collaboration with Virginia Tech. This robot is a two-legged human-like intelligent machine designed to help researchers assess the applications of unmanned systems in inspections and damage control exercises in naval vessels. Mishaps at sea are inevitable, but we must protect human lives and cargo with innovations like fire-fighting robots that can perform a useful role in emergencies. Standing 5 feet 10 inches tall, SAFFiR is equipped with a super-human range of motions to move skilfully in complex spaces.
Blockchain used to be associated with Cryptocurrency earlier, but this technology is now finding increasing application in other industries for the safe handling of data with no scope for manipulation. With specific reference to shipping & logistics, Blockchain technology is playing a greater role in tracking the status of cargo in real time.
Augmented Reality is a technology that superimposes a simulated image representation on a user’s view of the physical world providing a fused, singular view. It is being experimented with to study its potentials in optimizing cargo planning, inspection, maintenance and navigation. This technology also helps to create awareness about the shipping industry to the general public. For instance, people who are not directly associated with the industry can view the real-life sights at a port or container ship. Port360 is a virtual tour application developed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority in partnership with a company called Skycap. Covering 42 kilometers of Rotterdam Port, it presents a virtual tour of the port area presenting brilliant life-like 360° aerial images.
Software tools in Container Repair & Maintenance-related activities essentially aim to achieve quick response to customer queries by building repair estimates and complete documentation on the fly with quick turnarounds, leading to higher profitability and customer satisfaction. Vital features of such modern software solutions include:
- User-friendly interface with alerts, user notes and prompts.
- Dashboard with a broad view of the M & R operations at all locations.
- Supervision of activities for stakeholders from a shared platform.
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) compatibility.
- Auto-generation of bills payable.
- Incorporation of other modules into the product suite.
- On-site accessibility for site inspectors.
Container Repair & Maintenance software assists smooth communication with customers and all interested parties from a unified platform. Businesses can cut down wasteful expenditures to focus on mission-critical activities to achieve faster growth.
iMARS powered by iInterchange Systems is a robust Container Maintenance & Repair tool to addresses the needs of leasing companies, repair workshops and carriers. It can be deployed end-to-end via “On-Premises” mode or on the “Cloud” through subscription.
iInterchange Systems/www.iinterchange.com offers solutions on SaaS www.iboxsuite.com & On-Premises. Their hands-on shipping expertise makes iInterchange Systems the right associates to unite for the software needs of ocean carriers, container leasing companies and repair workshops.