COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected greatly the shipping industry, causing disruption across its sectors. However, the pandemic has fast-tracked the maritime industry switching to digital. In fact, many organizations are proceeding with fast pace to achieve their digital transformation, leveraging business data in order to make better business decisions and improve their operations.
s the world enters the new Information Age, especially due to COVID-19, parts of the shipping industry have made the most of recent digital technological advancements and the resulting data produced. To use today’s technological capabilities, players in the shipping industry have begun to digitize previously analogue processes. This adaptation, combined with data science, has led to an easier and faster marine vetting process.
Key benefits of digitalization
#1 Improved efficiency
Whether companies are transporting passengers or cargo, global maritime logistics has a number of complex factors to deal with, and digitalization is the key to untangling this web. Today, several technological advancements can help maritime streamline its workflow across global operations, redefining maritime efficiency at the same time. More specifically, available through mobile, web, and desktop devices, new platforms are giving the entire industry easy access to process automation, video conferencing, contact centre management, and other tools. In fact, some digital workspaces can even be customized to work with existing online workspace/communication platforms.
#2 Industry-wide sustainability
In addition to improving efficiency, digitally-enabled collaboration is also helping sustainability efforts to spread across the maritime industry. For this reason, IMO officials consider digital technologies as vital for enhancing the sustainability of maritime operations across the world.
This is because the new technologies make it easier for maritime organizations to gain energy and fuel efficiency, prolong the service life of assets, and pursue sustainable goals. Increasing the digital capabilities of a vessel operator’s fleet would make meeting new environmental regulations easier. This can be achieved by retrofitting sensors onto existing fleets. These sensors would provide insights into the vessel’s activity, such as fuel consumption, rate of pollution, bunkering and engine performance. This precise knowledge is extremely useful in helping vessel operators confidently meet new environmental legislation as it comes into effect. It would also indicate other areas of potential improvement for vessel operators so that they can get ahead of environmental legislation, rather than needing to play catch-up to meet new, stricter guidelines.
#3 Safer navigation
By using deep learning algorithms, today’s maritime tech experts can develop self-navigating systems for autonomous ships. These ships are fueled by data from smart sensors and the resulting data-driven insights, thus enabling safe navigation for large, unmanned maritime vehicles. With the advancement of digitalization, such technologies can greatly improve the outdated navigation systems found on ships.
Why seafarers to improve their IT soft skills
While there are experts working on shipping’s digitalization, seafarers should refine their IT skills in order to keep up with the developments, and reap the benefits offered by this new technological era.
#1 Increase in productivity
Time is precious and valuable to everyone, especially those working at sea. In order for shipping to work smarter rather than harder, constantly improving IT skills is a must. Developing these skills will enable seafarers to feel more confident in using emerging technology and becoming faster in finishing tasks. This will not only increase seafarers’ confidence, but also their productivity will skyrocket when they equip themselves with technical skills. Moreover, being tech-savvy will also free up time, allowing to focus attention on important projects and jobs.
#2 Prevents future tech problems
#3 More versatility
Today every industry is becoming more technology-focused and software-reliant. Specifically, a 2017 annual report prepared by Deloitte Access Economic reveals that an additional 81,000 jobs are needed by 2022. Without a doubt, companies that leap into the tech era will have an easier time adapting to changing expectations, and these companies and people will have a competitive advantage.
Moving towards the future
Customers, regulators, and owners will continue to drive the increasing pace of maritime digitalization. Customers are looking for solutions that ensure fewer port delays, greater supply chain visibility, improved control over services, and increased integration. The combined effect of lower-cost satellite internet, real-time weather intelligence, helping navigational purposes, and more advanced tracking solution, such as vessel emissions footprint, will increase the pressure on the sector to digitize and innovate in order to retain value pools. Regulators are also imposing new standards for sustainable fuel use that demand the introduction of new technologies, while owners are looking to improve utilization as well as their bottom lines and breadth of capabilities to establish a niche position in the sector.
Finally, organizations need to be pragmatic and flexible in executing their digitalization strategy. This will mean building incrementally with the goal of extracting as much value as possible from existing technology investments, while at the same time abandoning or changing elements that are not working. By focusing on cost, revenue, and agility, leaders in the maritime industry can look forward to an innovative and profitable future.