Smart Shipping Benefits Companies and the Environment

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Like many industries, shipping and maritime logistics are increasingly digitized and data-driven. A report from SAFETY4SEA’s 2018 Technology Award winner, Immarsat, found that the maritime shipping industry is better poised to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) technologies than previously supposed.

The report focuses on understanding how critical industries — including the agriculture, energy, maritime, and transport sectors — are utilizing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies. Properly implemented, smart IIoT solutions offer shipping companies capabilities to meet future challenges head-on, and minimize their environmental impact in the process.

As the report notes:

“IIoT is set to play a profound role in providing end-to-end transparency across supply chains and improving its efficiency. We are reaching a point where all events in a supply chain will be captured as data by nerve-like sensors, before being routed for analysis and actioned.”

Efficiency is the keyword here in more than one sense, smart shipping benefits both companies and the environment by minimizing waste, be it fuel or assets. There’s never been a better time to adapt systems because as a key part of the global supply chain, maritime logistics is facing scrutiny at an unprecedented level.

Climate change coupled with a growing population is prompting this shift towards environmentally sustainable practices on-board and across the board. For industries, shipping and logistics, in particular, this translates to more demand all while imparting less damage on the world.

As set out by the comprehensive report, here are a few of the key factors driving the maritime industry’s move to greater IIoT capabilities and the corresponding environmental benefits.

Cost efficiency and cleaner operations

According to Immarsat, 56 percent of the maritime respondents in their survey are currently using or testing the use of smart asset monitoring. Environmental regulation may be providing a helping hand here. In shipping, emissions restrictions are promoting the uptake of IIoT technology to monitor fuel use. Now, 47 percent of the companies surveyed are already using IIoT to manage fuel. This is expected to rise to 100 percent by 2023.

A knock-on benefit here is related to transparency. With full data sets that are easily shared, shipping companies can prove their commitment to emission reductions. In return, industry partners may be more willing to choose shipping companies who have proven environmental credentials.

Route optimization

This is inextricably linked to the points covered above. An estimated two-thirds of a ship’s operating cost is fuel, so it makes sense that ships implement systems that optimize fuel use and route planning through IoT.

Where radio frequency communications were once the gold-standard in route planning and collision avoidance, this technology leaves a lot of potential for human error. With IoT-enabled route planning, a ship’s position is live-tracked, and location info can be shared automatically with ships in the same vicinity or on the same network.

On land, offices can generate in-depth data about a ship’s journey, weather patterns, water movements and more to plan the most efficient route possible, saving on fuel and ensuring emissions compliance.

Asset tracking and management

While smart sensors and monitoring systems are already in use at a larger scale tracking the real-time location of ships at sea, they can also be put to clever use tracking and managing the status of shipping containers on-board.

Perhaps the most pertinent use of this technology is refrigerated containers, these must sit at constant temperatures to make sure the perishable assets inside stay fresh.IIoT systems in this instance will consist of temperature sensors, processing units, and mobile transmitters. If temperatures diverge from the optimal, staff are notified immediately and can begin examining the container for issues.

Fewer asset losses mean two things: shipping partners are more inclined to continue working relationships and fewer waste results in a cleaner industry as a whole.

Unlocking the value of IIoT shipping systems will always be contingent on the company’s ability to utilize the data provided. But if the transport sector decides to fully benefit from the tools now at its fingertips, the rewards are two-fold: greater cost efficiency and better environmental compliance and thus credentials.

Sea News Feature, May 27

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra