Artificial Intelligence and the Shipping Industry

(Image Courtesy: Intel Newsroom)

AI is the new buzzword in the maritime sector. As the shipping industry is under a big transformation at a global level, Artificial Intelligence is already making things easier by seamlessly integrating new shipping logistics and communication technology to evolve the business model within the shipping industry. Further, with the help of new algorithms, the shipping industry can fully rely on AI for mitigating security risks and reduce the cost of operations to a great extent. Along with that, AI can help the maritime sector to respond to and work in accordance with the new environmental regulations and policies in a better way.

This shipping industry has rapidly sustained pressures over environmental regulations which posed a challenge to fuel on which vessels run. This combined with global cyber threats, have made digitalisation an indispensable alternative for the maritime industry. Shippers are now keen on improvising systems to nurture innovation and find solutions to these concerns.

Amidst changing scenarios in global shipping, Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the hot topics. Inspiring and practical use cases are emerging on a daily basis, with organisations planning to adopt AI. However, while most of these technology implementations are in the conceptual stage, what and how much it takes to achieve business value and traction out of AI, depends on the reliance and robustness of products.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can collect and analyse data for the container shipping industry to chalk out plans more accurately. AI is pursued as the digital game changer in a variety of industries, which can render effective support to containerised supply chains with in-time transits and equipment availability.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) announced that the company and its subsidiary MOL Information Systems, have signed a contract with Yokohama National University to conduct a joint study on the analysis and use of Big Data related to ocean shipping. The study aims at developing the capability of data analysis of economics and maritime affairs and forecast the ocean shipping market and bunker prices with greater accuracy.

Besides, ports and terminals are recognising the trend for using Big Data to collaborate with shipping lines, except, little is known on how to do this effectively. Kalmar also released its ‘Kalmar Insight’ tool, which has been designed to help terminals turn Big Data into actionable insight.

The logistics and shipping sector can reap major benefits from AI, as artificial intelligence is most focused on large-scale numbers. These figures are analysed and organised from different sources, shaped and then used as the basis for decision-making, at times with minimum or no human input.

With its harsh working conditions, isolated crew and high economical, ecological and human risks, any technology that is implemented through AI, should have a positive impact to address these issues. Technological advances must be directed to the benefit of seafarers, bringing them more safety and first world care, experts opined.

Shipping industry majors such as, Maersk, Panalpina and Flexport have initiated measures to harness AI, to simulate human intelligence, to address an array or issues surrounding the maritime industry. The issues in focus are, selection of the best alternative port, when the original destination is blocked and better estimation of the arrival time, to ensure seamless preparedness of logistics.

AI is also being tapped to forecast whether a shipper will cancel a booking or its container will get rolled by the carrier, and left on the dock.

Artificial intelligence is set to be a USD 16 billion dollar global market in 5 years and a recent study shows that 84 per cent of companies see the use of AI as ‘essential’ to competitiveness. Most press about AI in maritime has been about Rolls-Royce and their plans to use AI in “future remote and autonomous shipping operations”.

SailRouter (cloud application that helps ship owners to reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs) and VesselBot (digital chartering marketplace for the bulk maritime industry) are also doing their part to bring shipping into the 21st century – and solve some very complex problems, with their AI powered solutions.

With technological advancements gripping all forms of businesses, sooner or later the maritime industry will have to adjust and introduce technology into its business model. At a juncture when the industry is poised to leap forward with multiple regulations and concerns revolving around safe, effective and economical shipping, the time is ripe for companies to develop and implement AI into their workflow.

Sea News Feature, March 21

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News