On-board, berthed and on the marina, smart technologies are driving widespread digitalization — a process which has the potential to guide shipping processes into the future.
Digitization in the maritime industry assists with complex logistics, asset and supply-chain management. Smart technologies are taking this a step further, with so-called smart shipping set to address challenges and offer far-reaching benefits for a range of maritime players. From big data and cross-operations visibility to A.I., blockchain and automation, the entire supply chain stands to benefit from these smart, accessible advancements. And with Brexit adding further complexities to shipping logistics, there’s an even greater need to accelerate the adoption of smart technologies that streamline operations and save time, money and resources.
Through simplified data communications, smart ports achieve high-level efficiencies and reduce costs through an ecosystem of smart security, asset management and network infrastructure capabilities. Simple, affordable internet-of-things technologies can optimize inventories, monitor containers, provide data-inspired logistics and improve safety and security.
Cloud-based reporting offers a real-time, dynamic overview of all tagged assets. It is through these data insights that processes can be refined. The smart port in Rotterdam, for instance, incorporates digital infrastructure to drive predictive maintenance, predictive berthing and a range of other processes for the enhanced operational running of the physical infrastructure. The improved efficiencies are one focus point for smart ports. Another is the need to pivot around a growing trend of digitized and automated vessels — with port authorities needing to evolve to remain relevant.
Marinas around the world face many challenges that can be traced back to slow uptake of technology and poor digital services to customers in marinas and tourist ports. At the same time, this is a fast-growing industry with a digitally savvy clientele. This makes the adoption of data-intelligent processes an urgent consideration for operators. In addition, COVID-19 has reinforced the need for contactless, effective digital solutions upon arrival and exit. Smart technologies use data to design highly-effective digital systems around inventory control, asset management and overall communications. This improves customer experience and paves the way for automation and remote management, allowing operators to concentrate on high service levels and hospitality.
Asset tracking devices can be placed on cargo, containers, vehicles, forklift trucks and vessels. By keeping an eye on the location of these assets, ports can make sure that they are where they need to be, allowing operations to run smoothly. For example:
On vessels themselves, smart technologies are fine-tuning efficiencies — with the potential to drastically reduce costs. Smart technologies provide data-driven onboard organization and maintenance planning, and they build a digital bridge between at-sea and on-shore operations. The result is elevated safety and reliability. With these outcomes in mind, Bourbon Offshore's smart shipping program in Angola anticipates a future cost saving of 25% — an example of how ships of the future are geared to make better use of resources and increase productivity.
By collecting data across meaningful metrics, personnel can check in on cargo and get notifications on undesirable changes around factors like temperature, shock, humidity, gas and smoke to maintain the integrity of shipments no matter where they are. These actionable notifications give personnel a head start to reduce risk and mitigate losses. Some technologies incorporate two-way communication on this front, which has the added advantage of reduced manpower requirements and risk of human error.
Another opportunity presented by smart technology in the shipping industry is the implementation of automated potable water temperature monitoring and flushing systems required by maritime laws. These systems can help vessels save thousands of pounds on manual testing and avoid fines, penalties or prosecution.
This legal requirement translates into immense costs for seafaring vessels, which need to perform regular tests for colony-forming units. This can be overcome by adopting an automated system that continuously monitors a vessel’s water systems and provides real-time alerts if safety parameters are breached. Safety parameters are set according to the temperature ranges needed for the formation of colonies, and sensor technology can identify exactly where the areas of risk are present, such as a specific cabin or section of the vessel.
Effective monitoring is the foundation of effective management — and data is, without question, the best way to monitor people, processes and assets across the shipping supply chain. The benefits of collecting and analyzing this data in real time span customer experience, labour requirements and costs — to name a few.
Matthew Margetts is director of sales and marketing at Smarter Technologies.
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