posts posted under the Blue Innovation initiative

Smart Cities

What does living in smart cities mean for privacy?

In the 2000s we are witnessing an exponential growth of the use of information technologies – smart cities or smart ports are becoming the norm. These are slowly pervading all aspects of modern life, including smart refrigerators, smart doorbells, smart plugs, smart bathrooms, etc. The revolution has also affected a larger societal section, with smart cities and smart ports also gaining traction in progress. We have already talked about certain smart technologies that affect port operations, such as Digital Twins, Drones and Smart Containers. Nevertheless, we haven’t yet asked the question: What does this spread of smart technologies mean for us as individuals?

This month, we have caught up with Brad Smith from Turn on VPN to talk about what these advancements mean for our privacy: 

 

Written by: Brad Smith

Written by: Brad Smith

The idea behind a smart city is one where technology is extensively used to improve the quality of life of people living in an urban area and ease the provision of everyday services. This can mean sophisticated connectivity across the city, automated systems, highly available online resources and so much more.

However, this kind of setup also comes with a few challenges that aren’t normally so pronounced in a traditional city with privacy being the biggest one. How does living in a modern city affect people’s rights to privacy especially in places where privacy laws are not that strict?

Smart cities trends and their privacy implications

There are certainly many components that make a modern smart city in 2020, especially the ones that are built from the ground up. However, three of them do stand out in the way they affect your privacy as you go about your day to day life. Also, keep in mind that some of these technologies have been heavily deployed in traditional cities.

Increased citywide public surveillance and tracking

There is a lot of interest in using citywide public surveillance systems in smart cities across the world. These technologies have especially taken centerstage in the Middle East, China, and some European countries. Sophisticated public surveillance and tracking technologies are being deployed in smart cities to help the authorities in enforcement efforts and for other reasons.

However, such technologies, though useful in some places, do raise a lot of questions in the way they are deployed and how they are used especially with privacy and personal freedom in focus. Indeed, the debate around citywide surveillance has attracted some fair amount of controversy with some progressive governments even going as far as banning the use of these technologies in public.

Citywide connectivity and high-speed internet

The rolling out of 5G and other connectivity solutions in smart cities is integral to their development. A smart city without a stable, high-speed internet that is accessible to everyone is not a smart city. Today, even traditional cities that are trying to transition into modern cities have put a lot of resources into communication technologies such as 5G, public Wi-Fi, and other supporting infrastructure.

Government services moving to the cloud 

A smart city must have a big percentage of government services available via the internet. Indeed, most smart city projects today are geared towards moving entire government services to the cloud. This of course means an increase in data collection.

Increased popularity of smart ports

Another smart city trend is the invention of smart ports. A smart port is one that makes use of automation and innovative technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and Big Data to improve performance. The industry of container shipping and ports has been slow on the uptake in embracing change. Still, new systems, solutions, and technologies are emerging that will change the face of shipping in the future, ensuring the sector is more connected than ever before.

The smart port aims to generate transparent and efficient services that add value to the clients. An intelligent port features automated management of all entries and exits at the terminals, monitoring, and managing queues. The smart port removes the need for paperwork during container deliveries and collections, as well as automatic lighting.

In port cities like Montreal, emerging technologies provide useful real-time data for lorries to help them plan their trips and avoid traffic congestions, and lower carbon emissions.

This real-time data and smart sensors go a long way in monitoring crucial infrastructure, enabling the port operators to schedule predictive maintenance and reduce the need for yearly inspections. The data from the sensors, such as pile head sensors in the quays, allows the ports to track the eventual tear and tear and track the impact of cargo yet to be unloaded.

Privacy concerns over today’s smart cities

All of the technologies being deployed in smart cities today require the collection of data on a large scale. This, as expected, raises a lot of questions in terms of privacy going forward for people living in these so-called smart cities. How do you ensure that your right to privacy isn’t lost when everything’s made to collect your data?

Ways to protect your privacy

One way to stay private is to use tools like a VPN or encrypted messaging software. One of the major functions of VPNs is to encrypt your data and online traffic. This is especially important when you want to stay anonymous while connecting to public networks. With a messaging app that offers end-to-end encryption, you can also keep your conversations private.

There is no doubt that living in a smart city is more convenient and sustainable than in a traditional one. As you enjoy all the benefits that come with the advanced connectivity in these urban dwellings, don’t forget the importance of staying private.

Digital highway

Digitisation in logistics and e-documents… advantage or cost?

The current crisis is bringing with it a lot of changes to our industry. For this quarter’s Blue Innovation article, we have caught up with Xavier Lluch, an expert in cost analysis, a veteran of the logistics industry and a regular teacher in our courses, to share with us his thoughts on the emerging trend of e-documents and electronic transport processes. Check out the full article below: 

 

Xavier Lluch

Xavier Lluch i Oms
Professor of the Escola Europea – Intermodal transport
Consultant for Spain for Pionira BV, experts in generic solutions for digital document signing.

The digital revolution is here and was here long before the virus crisis. Perhaps the current crisis allows us to rethink the way we have approached logistics and transport activities so far. The opportunities offered by the new ITC technologies are already changing the way we do business. In the transportation and logistics industry, we now have powerful tools at our disposal to improve the competitiveness of our companies and the range of services offered.

Nevertheless, the implementation of these technologies could be faster than it is currently. For many reasons, but especially because it requires a different approach to the way we do business, a profound cultural change among managers and employees in this sector is necessary. Some business models may make way for new ones.

Are we – are you – ready to take on this challenge? The answer to the question can affect the design of the businesses on offer.

The use of e-documents requires the use of a third party – service providers who are replacing paper in the retention of information and signatures in transport documents with electronic counterparts and with great benefits. You can enjoy other benefits such as attaching images, videos, or other documents with a simple click, avoiding physical contact at the time of signatures, geolocating events… among others. This will save some money, especially from the administration side of any business dealings!

In intermodal transport, it will be possible to use a single document between the first shipper and his consignee, avoiding the traditional ways of having documents physically transferred between different carriers.

But this is only the beginning because when you start using e-documents, you will quickly stop talking about “documents” and instead use the expression “datasets” or “transport datasets”. When you have this information structured in a database that is accessible online and in real-time, there will be a full portfolio of new applications and benefits available, and from this point on you will start not only to save money but to design a new approach to your service concept.

Over the past three years, I have helped a Belgian company, PIONIRA BV, to introduce their solution for digitally signing transport documents in the Spanish market. On their web page (www.pionira.be), you will not find the usual software solutions for printing transport documents, but information about a company that can “offer a generic solution for digitally signing documents”.

It is important to realise the change in the way the company presents their offer because this is much more than a simple reformulation. Pionira offers a new service to connect with existing ERP solutions, linked to the many improvements that digitisation should bring to the logistics and transportation activity.

The solutions exist, they are tested, they do not require any investment and they can easily be connected to other existing apps.

The legal framework is clear for the use of electronic documents in transport. International treaties and national legislation have adapted their processes with a goal to facilitate and promote the use of electronic documents. This past August, the European Parliament approved a new rule that legalised them for all EU countries.

The approval of this European regulation sets the basis for the wide implementation of digital documents across both private and public sectors, by establishing the data and messaging standards as well as the conditions for the interoperability among the different players. In the short term it becomes mandatory for the public sector and voluntary for the private operators, and in a few years it might become mandatory for all. For more information you can check out the Regulation EU 2020/1056 of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic freight transport information.

Significant companies (shippers, transporters) in Europe are already implementing e-transport documents. Some of the public administrations, mainly in the Benelux countries, have already been active in promoting the benefits of such technologies.

More recently, the main stakeholder’s associations in Spain have reached a compromise, with the acknowledgement of the Ministry of Transport, to promote the use of e-documents. The promotional campaign is expected to continue through September.

Digitisation is in the forefront of the intentions of many private and public policies, especially in the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, as e-signing transport documents foregoes any physical contact and therefore minimises the risk of virus transmission. A few days ago “The Economist” published an article titled “Covid-19 stimulates the digitisation of the government” – further highlighting the impact of the changes kickstarted by the pandemic.

We must recognise that one of the obstacles is the lack of a “digital culture” among many of us. The earlier we shorten that gap, the better it will be for the efficiency of our companies and the possibility for all to catch up with the coming changes in the transportation industry across the globe.

Nanosatellites to fuel the Internet of Things

In the past issues of our #BlueInnovation series we have largely focused on any new developments taking place on land and at sea – Smart Seals, Smart Containers, Digital Twins, etc. What about Space? Is there a future for the logistics and transport sector that involves space technologies?

This month we have caught up with Jaume Sanpera, the founder and CEO of Sateliot, to talk about his views and predictions about the journey into the future for transport.

Journey into the future of logistics and freight transport

Jaume Sanpera

By: Jaume Sanpera, Founder and CEO of Sateliot

What if the real revolution in the logistics and freight sector came directly from space? That is what Sateliot, the company that will launch the first constellation of nanosatellites to democratize the already known Internet of Things or IOT, is proposing.

In the 21st century, we are entering the era of the totally connected. However, there is still a long way to go to make large-scale connection global and affordable for all. In fact, it is estimated that only 10% of the earth’s surface has mobile coverage, while the remaining 90% is a veritable connectivity desert.

However, what may seem like a whole futuristic movie is getting closer. Specifically, up to 100 nanosatellites weighing about 12 kilograms will make this possible, orbiting some 500 kilometres from the Earth and functioning as cell towers from above offering 100% coverage of the territory and reaching areas where terrestrial networks cannot.

And, although when we talk about the IoT and high technology we usually think of the most cutting-edge and disruptive sectors, the truth is that others that are more traditional but no less developed, such as logistics or goods transport, are likely to reap the most benefits, since the commitment to innovation and digital transformation will allow for an improvement in the operations of infrastructures, warehouses or transport fleets. All of this at a time when ecommerce is booming and requires greasing the supply chain to avoid stock-outs, ensuring that consumers get what they want, when they want it.

Globally, around 20 billion devices are connected to the Internet of Things

What’s more, although the IoT is not new to logistics, with 20 billion connected devices already in use around the world, its real revolution has only just begun. It is estimated that by 2025, shipping companies alone will spend an average of more than $2 million annually on IoT solutions. A practical and simple example of this investment will be smart containers.

Sateliot will make it possible to extend the IOT to the whole territory, so sensors can be installed inside and outside the containers to collect an infinite amount of data during their transit, such as the humidity of the cargo, its temperature, oxygen levels, whether or not there is smoke or even attempts to open them. This data could then be analysed by the company sending the goods, by any intermediaries or by the crew of the ship the cargo is travelling on.

Through this it will be possible to remotely act on reefer containers or warn the crew of the need to hypothetically repair or replace them, identify theft attempts during seal manipulations or put out fires when the presence of smoke is detected, among other multiple actions.

This technology will help make possible exhaustive tracking of the containers, both en route and during possible losses into the sea. This will significantly reduce costs by minimizing the premiums of insurance policies, including theft, looting, fire or heat damage, which are usually very high – it is estimated that 70% of companies that adopt IoT solutions have considered this expense as one of the reasons for adopting this technology. It also will help prevent the loss of perishable goods due to failures of the cooling engine or through helping locate and recover containers that have fallen into the water or been lost in other ports by mistake.

Transport workers will increasingly rely on the information taken from the Internet of Things in their operations – where nanosatellites will come in handy

It is not just containers that will benefit. Ships will be able to use the IoT for the maintenance of their machinery, detection of breakdowns before they occur, using its solutions to monitor fuel consumption and thus adjust it more efficiently, all of which will help result in significant decreases in costs.

In short, monitoring the logistics and transport of goods at any time and place and at affordable prices will be key to improving processes, making them more efficient and cost effective. It will also help increase the autonomy of the devices and help get accurate predictions of demand, all of which will allow for greater capacity at lower costs, resulting in profitability increases across all companies in the sector.

The journey into the future of logistics, which is becoming more intelligent every day, has already begun. Nanosatellites will be on board, drawing the road map to follow.

Virtual Meetings are becoming the norm

Towards blue virtual training

Lidia Slawinska

Written by Lidia Slawinska, Consultant

In recent times a vast number of technological transformations has encompassed the maritime sphere. A recent study (2020) commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) analysed different social aspects of the maritime transport of goods, and identified two technological trends that are particularly visible on the blue horizon in the near future: autonomous and intelligent shipping. The prediction is that in the next three decades these two developments will have become the norm. Ship workers will soon be surrounded by technology that assists in the vessel’s functions, leading to a potential operational redundancy. Terminal operators and freight forwarders will have to deal with smart ports, the Internet of Things, and virtual realities, and the role of the ship operators will shift towards the virtual sphere. This implies a very different training paradigm for the future transport professional – as very different skills will become invaluable. Future professionals will need to acquire an amalgam of different skills, blending the mechanical with the technological, and educational institutions will need to adapt. Covid-19 has doubtlessly accelerated this timeline towards virtual training.

The maritime industry is playing an essential role in the short-term emergency response to COVID-19 by easing the transport flows of vital commodities and products. Although a considerable number of ports has succeeded to stay open to cargo operations, the sector has been hit regardless, and economic losses have been recorded by ports across the Mediterranean. Most of the ports still remain closed to passenger traffic. Mid and long-term recovery will need to further enhance sustainability and resilience of the maritime transport sector as a whole, for sustaining jobs, international trade, and global economy, as much as possible.

The Coronavirus pandemic been instrumental in shifting the ways in which we operate. Overcoming physical distances has become essential to ensure the continued development of businesses ranging across all industries – with the education sector particularly being hit hard. The solution for many has been to turn towards digitisation. Automation, artificial intelligence and the growth of the Internet of Things has enabled many companies and institutions to reshape their business models and operate in remote environments.

The growth of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is facilitating the move towards a virtual training reality

For a centre like the Escola, which relies on experiential learning methodologies, the technological shift has proved particularly tricky. It’s proven approach towards delivering knowledge through a combination of theoretical lectures and practical workshops is quite difficult to replicate in a digital environment – even with the help of the increasingly popular online meeting applications such as Zoom, WebEx and Go2Meeting. A solution has presented itself in the form of a new project – YEP-MED, or the “Youth Employment in the Ports of the Mediterranean”, which will be launched in September 2020.

The project, headed by the Escola Europea and with 11 partners coming from 7 countries on the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, France, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan), has been selected as one of the projects under the European Neighbourhood Instrument CBCMED in 2020 (http://www.enicbcmed.eu/) . The goals of the project are to adapt training to the sector’s real needs and allow for the acquisition of skills to succeed in the work context; to strengthen the ability of Port Authorities and training centres to combine training and job placements by collaborating with at least 600 companies in 7 countries of the ENI area; and increasing employment rates of young people and women and offering them a real possibility to work within personalised mentoring and tutor programs.

How will this training be offered, in the aftermath of Covid-19? To replace the regular experiential approach of the Escola’s proven methodology, YEP-MED will take the training into the virtual world. The students will take part in teleconferences during workshops and debates with professionals and teachers. These will be accompanied by online on-demand training, which the students will need to complete during the 3 week long courses. If the health-related crisis subsides and the situation permits it, visits to port installations will accompany the on-demand classes. The final element to cement knowledge acquisition will be simulation. Working with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, the project partners will re-create digital twins of the port communities involved in the project. They will then ask the participants to take over practice enterprises and solve certain case studies involving transport operations. This system will ensure that the participants (albeit remotely) experience the operations themselves, and gain a considerable amount of experience before entering the work force.

Whether or not this new approach will prove effective, and will become the blueprint to use in future maritime training schemes, is to be seen. Being able to experience the operations in a world as complex as the maritime world is essential to prepare young people for real life operations. The virtual world cannot ever completely replace the physical experience – but in today’s reality it is the best option that educators have to prepare future professionals. Automated processes on board of ships, the internet of things, and smart ports all contribute and make the ERP more reliable and easier to programme. Different sectors have already taken the virtual plunge with training (air transport being one of the most famous ones, given the high cost and risk of real-life tests). Perhaps the sea is next in line.

 

Written by:

  • Lidia Slawinska

 

Useful links:

Smart Seals: Spotlight on Shellock

Throughout centuries, research and innovation have driven human progress forward. In the maritime sector, blue innovation in particular is key towards the advancement of the industry – in particular against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the damage that it had done to the global economies. This month we caught up with representatives from Shellock, a logistics start-up located in Barcelona, to find out more about the innovative technologies they have been developing.

 

Shellock is a Logistics Startup, which provides real-time tracking to shipping containers. It combines its product – a service web platform for tracking and its corresponding smart and reusable seal – to make it possible to transparently track the different stages of the shipments throughout the whole supply chain, from origin to destination.

Shellock boasts a user-friendly interface

Shellock also has a huge environmental goal, which consists of eliminating the traditional single-use plastic seals for shipping containers. These plastic seals make 4,000 of plastic waste annually, slowly contributing to the devastation of the marine eco-system. Using Shellocks seals will eliminate the waste of these, as these smart seals are reusable. Moreover, ceasing the trade of the traditional seals can help reduce the emissions of 11 tons of CO2 annually for every 2,000 active Shellocks, further contributing to environmental conservation.

Example of cargo tracking in Shellock

Currently less than 1% of the shipping containers in service are being tracked in real time – presenting a huge opportunity for these kinds of solutions.

The Shellock platform is a web application that can be accessed by mobile devices and normal browsers on desktop or laptop computers. This is the space where the customers are able to see the real-life updates for their shipments. This information is presented in an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard, that details and records every event of the cargo’s trip, making possible to know when the cargo is (or) was transiting by road, sailing by sea, standing by in port or warehouse, etc. Shellock also provides a predictive time of arrival of the cargo and an alert management system, which gives alerts on any incidents such as, robbery, delays and impacts, in real time. Through all of this, the company outfits its customers with the necessary data to allow for better decision making. The format of the data collected is also integrable with others systems used by other actors in the supply chain, such as insurance companies, ports, etc.

Shellock realt-time tracking of cargo

What is a Shellock?

Shellock is an IoT (Internet of Things) device that starts to emit data to the online platform as soon as it is locked or attached to the door of the container. It is shaped like a padlock, making it familiar and thus easy to use in the market. This reusable IoT device has the autonomy to change network providers all around the globe, in order to keep emitting data and making the real-time visibility possible. It is also equipped with impact and anti-robbery sensors to track any incidents that may occur.

Prototype of a Shellock seal

A little bit of history

In May 2019, the founders met during the first maritime and blue logistics startup weekend, held in Barcelona by Techstars. Without knowing each other beforehand, the group created the team and the idea of Shellock was born after an intense and fun brainstorming session. The concept was so inspiring and enlightening, that it motivated the team in such a way that they forgot they were strangers, but felt that they had known each other for years.  This group of entrepreneurs spent three long days during the weekend, shaping the concept, developing the business plan, researching the competitors and preparing a presentation of the final proposal. On the third day, during a 5 minute-pitch, they presented Shellock to a jury compriisng high-rank professionals of the maritime and logistics industry. Shellock placed second in a long list of propsals. Following the award ceremony, a few managers from logistic enterprises approached them, asking the members whether they were planning to make Shellock a reality. And thus Shellock was born.

In January 2020, Shellock partnered with the Universitat de Barcelona and moved to its co-work space known as StartUb! In February, they started the Santander Incubation programme called “Explorer”. In April Shellock was chosen for an acceleration programme for maritime startups, which will be held in Haugesund, Norway and is organized by FLOW Maritime Accelerator. Through this programme the company has secured mentorships, help to approach potential customers and partners to run tests for a product market fit, and will receive help to get in touch with potential investors and other business opportunities. This is going to be a huge opportunity for this promising Startup, and will doubtlessly help reshape the shipping industry and scale-up its products and ventures.

In order to fulfill this dream of going to Norway, Shellock launched a crowdfunding campaign on https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shellock–2 – / to cover some expenses for the trip to Haugesund and to help produce and optimise the first batch of Shellocks once the programme comes to an end.

Meet the team:

  • CEO – Carlos Garces: Marine Engineer and Full Stack Developer, with wide experience in software and hardware testing for Mercedes-Benz.
  • CPO – Adolfo Omar Calderon: Nautical Engineer in Navigation and Marine Transportation, with wide international experience working for Tidewater Martine and The Panama Canal.
  • CTO – Ferran Guasch: Electronic Engineer, with experience as testing Engineer for Mercedes-Benz and skilled in hardware development.

Do you want to join this movement?

The Shellock team has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance their progress. By contributing you won’t be only helping them, you will also join the sustainability movement, helping to reduce the use of plastic and lowering CO2 emissions in one of the biggest industries in the world. Shellock will give away t-shirts, mugs, and some accessories with the company logo, nice collector series Shellocks and will grant some space for sponsors on their website. If you are interested, you can access the campaign through the following link:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shellock–2#/

IoT impact on Port Operations

The IoT (Internet of Things,) known as the ability to connect devices and objects through a digital network, is a term that has ceased to be new and has slowly become part of our daily routine. Nowadays devices connected to the IoT permeate our homes, with people relying on devices such as Roomba, smart refrigerators or Alexa. IoT’s capabilities are much more powerful and each of the sectors of our economies have taken advantage of the benefits of this technology operations and management.

When looking at the maritime industry, and ports in particular, we can see that the advantages of incorporating IoT into their operations for the interaction of M2M (machine to machine) in telematic devices and sensors has resulted in a positive impact. Shipping has recognised that the best strategy for the future is no longer to prioritise massive physical growth but rather to optimise flows and logistics processes. Given this need, the IoT provides the ability to manipulate, control and monitor actions – an important step (albeit not the only one) within the grander scheme of things.

Initially we saw the IoT utilised to optimise the mobilisation of containers in terminals, monitoring of the control of working hours and accesses, towards the activation of equipment, control of cranes or prediction of maintenance. All this could be summarised not only in information reports but also in future opportunities. Knowing the data is always beneficial but knowing what to do with it is much better and this is the real gain from the process. To correctly identify where the processes can be optimised is the most difficult job of the sensor data collection. To date no universal algorithm or formula exists, and each terminal, each product and each country has a different dynamic that must be evaluated and readapted to involve the complex analysis of experts who actually manage to identify the weak sections of the processes.

On the other hand, the IoT is common practice of digital ports even if this does not mean that everything is done digitally. Monitoring, control and data collection have become daily routines, but the prediction of many activities is the new leading characteristic that the IoT is taking. It entails predicting supply chain breaks, equipment failures and many other aspects that are associated with artificial intelligence.

The cons?

What are the downsides? The main concern is that such implementations may expose the ports and organisations relying on digital data collection to unauthorised external interventions or cyberattacks. Nevertheless, large companies have understood that it is part of the risks to be mitigated, and that without these strategies sooner rather than later companies that do not adopt them will lose competitiveness.

The future?

Information is becoming more and more valuable. At the same time, it is becoming more public and freely accessible. The IoT interconnects equipment to obtain information; this information then collaborates between companies to obtain benefits. The scope of the IoT has managed to expand to all those who indirectly interact with logistics or port activities. We have left behind the information gap that in the past was termed the “Maritime Adventure”, and today exporters need to have constant control of situations to optimise the supply chain.

From a direct link to the truck driver through an app interconnected with the port community system, to the most detailed environmental control system, the IoT has infinite contributions in the port activity. It can be customised to the needs of each actor and promises to have event higher levels of performance with the emergence of 5G (in the not-to-near future).

 “According to IDC (International Data Corporation), there are already nearly 200 billion computerised devices, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet, and more than 50 billion sensors that track” around the world. The maritime sector, as the majority holder of international transport, has the responsibility to act efficiently and safely to reduce costs in a globalised market. This requires the optimisation of each of the shipping processes, and that in any case the IoT is a tool that allows to promote these objectives.

With the world constantly becoming “smaller”, and speed and accuracy becoming more important to customers and operators, there is hardly any doubt that the Internet of Things is the language of the future – and it is up to us to knows this language and to learn to decipher the information collected by it to improve the door-to-door supply chain, and the operations in the ports in particular.

For more information, check out these articles:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Blue Innovation – Digital Twins

How can ports innovate with the Internet of Things?

In recent years, the shipping industry has been playing catch-up with many innovative trends that other industries have embraced. One of those trends has been the concept of digital twins – the idea to use the Internet of Things and Big Data to create a virtual entity that essentially operates in the same was as the physical one. So what are digital twins, and how can they be applied in the Blue Economy?

A digital twin is “a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. By combining the physical and the virtual world, data is provided enabling the virtual entity to exist at the same time with the physical entity”. Within the digital system, replicas of physical characteristics can be used and tested, both to streamline efficiency and to troubleshoot potential problems. If set up and programmed correctly, digital twins can even ensure that physical tests are not necessary to implement any changes.  Today there are estimates that predict that in the next decade, these innovations will account for 10% of improvements and effectiveness of more than half of companies across all industries.

How does it work?

The technologies used to create the virtual representations of real objects are unquestioningly complex. Put simply, the twins use “digital tools and real-time data to virtually create, test, build and monitor a product or process – closing the feedback loop between design and operations.” As previously stated, the goal of these is to improve and test new designs and processes without disturbing ongoing operations – a factor that could be critical when it comes to transport operations in a globalised port. Imagine testing out new, more sustainable bunkering operations in a port at absolutely no risk or delay in transit time for the vessels – any port authority’s dream! The systems can achieve this by using artificial intelligence algorithms to analyse the data put in, and thus come up with accurate predictions for operations, designs, processes, etc. For example, using this approach within a port it would be possible to accurately “predict what the best time is to moor and depart”, therewith significantly reducing wait times and financial losses. An article by Port Technology on the subject exemplified this very accurately: “With a digital twin of the port, it’s possible to calculate exactly how much cargo needs to be unloaded there. This allows the vessel to sail sooner and with more cargo to its final destination”.

The technologies have already been applied to all industries – from Formula 1 races to Space exploration missions to actual humans. Perhaps the most impressive of all digital twins is the one that exists of an actual city – namely of Singapore. In 2018, Dassault Systèmes completed the virtual simulation, called 3DEXPERIENCit, which helps city planners analyse and improve energy consumption of its citizens, alongside other aspects of their everyday lives. Talk about Smart Cities!

What about Smart Ports?

Within the Blue Economy, digital twins have already begun to emerge. Virtual copies of vessels, simulations of transport operations, among other things have already helped improve operations. Ports are not lagging far behind in this revolution either – the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, has enthusiastically invested in the endeavour, which is being developed with the help of the Rotterdam Port Authority, Axians, Cisco, IBM® and many others.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/04/23/7-amazing-examples-of-digital-twin-technology-in-practice/#332afba76443

The project, aptly named Port Vision 2030, “establishes where action is needed to ensure that companies can operate optimally within the Global Hub and within Europe’s Industrial Cluster.” Using IBM Internet of Things technology, the Port strives to become the first fully digital port by 2030, and simultaneously the model Smart Port for others to follow.

During this year’s Smart Cities World Expo Congress, which will take place in Barcelona between the 19th and the 21st of November 2019, innovative new technologies will be showcased and presented to all attendees. The event will also play host to a SmartPorts Summit, which will bring together the world’s top 10 smart ports, and give them the opportunity to showcase their most innovative projects in sustainability, digitisation, innovation and mobility. There is still time to register – check out the passes and join the Escola’s team on the Expo floor.

Written by:

  • Lidia Slawinska, Consultant – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Sources:

Image of Container 42

Blue Innovation – Container 42

Following a nice and (hopefully for all of you) relaxing summer, we have begun thinking again about innovation it the Blue Economy and any novelties that would be worth highlighting. For this issue of the Odiseo we have decided to revisit the container (following our article on the SmartBox), and decided to explore Container 42.

Digitisation and technology continue to make headlines with increasing frequency in a classic sector that seeks to optimize its performance, no longer focusing on gigantism but thinking about improved processes and relying on new technological proposals.

The newest challenge is to mesh data and processes together to obtain more efficient operations, sustainability and better services.

Under the initial joint venture of IBM, Cisco, Esri, Axians and the Port of Rotterdam, today there are 18 companies (see the full list at https://weare42.io/partners/) that have joined to create Container 42, a research and technologically innovative project that seeks to increase the safety, sustainability and efficiency of container movement. Under the premise of knowing what a cargo container experiences during intermodal journeys, Container 42 is a hyperintelligent tool that registers everything and is adapted with sensor technology that transmits, in real time, information pertaining to vibrations, pitch, noise, air pollution, humidity, internal and external temperature, internal movement of the cargo and the exact global position of the container. In addition, the container has been equipped with solar panels on its top cover to measure the amount of energy that can be produced, as well as with 42 cameras that record the movements of and surrounding the unit.

Source: https://weare42.io/data/

The premise is that all this data is to be collected, and will yield positive results to make sure that the different actors involved in the operation of the container can measure parameters, optimize processes, improve the quality of services and be more efficient with the environment.

Currently the plan is for Container 42 to do a 2 years long intermodal journey in order to do carry out accurate analyses within the routine of a regular container. The official launching was at Rotterdam on May 24, 2019, and it has left to Munich for the International Transport Logistic exhibition to begin the journey right after the event.

This system installed on the Container has the potential to outperform the authorities along its journeys, as it is programmed to set off alarms when the parameters of the container are changed or its doors are opened. It also helps to optimize logistic chains by constantly updating data, which would allow to diminish (or eliminate completely) uncertain predictions or to visually verify the cargo in real time.

With such thorough tracking and control, it leaves those involved with the container and the cargo with nearly absolute certainty and security. Moreover, beyond the container’s contribution to the logistics chain and the possibility of linking its operations with blockchain, in the event that any incident with the unit is recorded, thanks to a precision of information, it would be much easier to troubleshoot incidents and be aware of all of the risks or breakdowns. On the other hand, the container could also be part of an integral customs self-management system, as with all of the information digitalised, the cargo data can be transferred for faster customs management, and eliminate inspections of containers that are digitally guaranteed not to be opened.

Source: https://shippingandfreightresource.com/container-42-smartest-container-on-the-planet/

The first step in this initiative has been taken. Knowing what happens to a container during its voyage will soon cease to be an uncertainty (although some shipping companies already have limited monitoring and security services among others for the cargo they transport). However, it must be recognized that digitising each unit will take time due to the investment and motivation that the carriers would need to take the necessary steps to implement the technology. Even so, in a world where we know exactly the position of our food delivery biker, how strange is it that we do not know precisely the condition and position of goods valued in thousands of dollars?

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)
MASS Control Centre

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

One of the more controversial topics in shipping is the emergence of autonomous vessels. The feasibility of these new arrivals to the maritime field is today still quite controversial among the majority of industry experts. Nevertheless, what is certain is that, despite the uncertainty and the many sceptics, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does not disregard these new technological alternative initiatives and continues the debate and establish a methodology for conducting trials and develop a road map to consider the projects and investments of several leading companies of the sector.

The legal framework

The viability of applying these technologies is subject to legal limitations of the sector. Since 2018 the IMO has taken the first steps to address the issue of autonomous vessels, taking into account the interests of the industry in MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships). Initially the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved a framework for a regulatory scope exercise, in which a work plan and preliminary steps of autonomy have been established to create a methodology that can regulate the insertion of the operability of this activity.

Alongside the discussion of the feasibility of these operations, which can be very extensive, in this blog of Blue Innovation we want to comment on the technological advances that are currently under way and consider the initiatives of different companies that are beginning to develop these technologies.

Technological framework

When thinking about autonomous shipping operations, companies and governments alike need to take in account various considerations before implementing the technologies. Land based control centres, satellites capable of tracking the positions and progress of these vessels, sensor systems, collision prevention technologies, security concerns and environmental protections are only some that would need to be addressed before maritime autonomy becomes viable. It would also be unwise not to take into consideration the “twin” of MASS – autonomous mooring systems which require sensors and automated systems not only for vessel operations but also for shorter operations in the ports of call.

What follows is a brief summary of some of the leading projects currently in development that aim to tackle these and other issues, and thus pave the way towards shipping of the future:

  • 2016: the creation of One Sea, a global conglomerate of maritime partners that joined together to lead research co-creation of high-profile ecosystems with a primary aim to create an operating autonomous maritime ecosystem by 2025. Partners as Wärtsilä, ABB, Inmarsat, Ericson, Monohakobi T.I., Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Shipbroakers Finland and others are working together to combine top research to “create an environment suitable for autonomous ships by 2025”.

https://www.oneseaecosystem.net/about/

 

  • May 2017: Yara company joined DNV, Shipyards Vard and Kongsberg to build MV Yara Birkeland, an 80 mts, 120 TEUs and max 10kns vessel that aims to cover a logistic need of the Yara Group and seeks to eliminate 40,000 annual truck trips by road by substituting them with maritime routes of this new vessel. In addition to being autonomous, the vessel also follows a zero-emission plan with azimuthal electric engines and a closed ballast system, equipped with sensor technology, control algorithms, communication data and connectivity that will be interlinked with the operations of its automated terminal. The idea is to start manned operations in 2020 and then, with the help of Kongsberg’s technology, gradually move to an unmanned vessel by 2022. An automated mooring system is under development by the MacGregor group and, to provide additional support to terminal operations, the Kalmar group is working on the incorporation of Automated Crane Technology (AutoRMG) that will complement the integration of zero-emission operations during the vessel’s operations in port.

https://www.yara.com/knowledge-grows/game-changer-for-the-environment/

 

 

Source: http://hugin.info/134793/R/2210941/860932.jpg

 

  • January 2018: Rolls-Royce opened the first Research & Development Centre for Autonomous Vessels. This materialized the digitization of the maritime sector with a focus on autonomous navigation and the use of artificial intelligence for the operations of unmanned ships.

https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/press-releases/2018/25-01-2018-rr-opens-autonomous-ship-research-and-development-centre-in-finland.aspx

 

  • April 2018: Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg joined forces to create the first company dedicated to the development of autonomous ship operations. The company Massterly seeks to establish infrastructures and design support services for the operations of autonomous vessels and lead the land-based control centres that will make monitoring of the operations of the vessels at sea and in ports possible. Massterly was created in Norway to support the Yara project and has Kongsberg’s experience in the technology sector and Wilhelmsen’s experience in maritime services and logistics behind it.

https://www.wilhelmsen.com/media-news-and-events/press-releases/2018/wilhelmsen-and-kongsberg-establish-worlds-first-autonomous-shipping-company/

 

  • August 2018: DNV published a Paper focused on Remote-Controlled and Autonomous Vessels in which it summarised the current situation, the operational changes in terms of navigation and other functions, regulations and motivations for implementation, and the ethical and social implications of such technologies.

https://www.dnvgl.com/maritime/publications/remote-controlled-autonomous-ships-paper-download.html

 

  • In December 2018: Finferries and Rolls-Royce publicly exposed the operational tests of the 53.8m Falco ro-ro ferry, which is adapted with sensors interconnected with artificial intelligence that contain anti-collision technologies and an autodocking system which is monitored from a ground control centre 50km from the city of Turku.

https://www.finferries.fi/en/news/press-releases/finferries-falco-worlds-first-fully-autonomous-ferry.html

 

Source: https://www.vesselfinder.com/news/14008-Rolls-Royce-and-Finferries-demonstrate-worlds-first-Fully-Autonomous-Ferry

  • December 2018: That same month, Samskip led an initiative called “Seashuttle” of an autonomous Short Sea Shipping vessel, propelled with hydrogen through the use of electrolysis, with the goal of creating more sustainable shipping alternatives. The operations route aims to cover the regular line between Poland and Norway and is supplied in maritime technologies by Kongsberg Maritime; by Hyon in the implementation of hydrogen technologies; and by Massterly in terms of operational MASS.

http://www.samskipmultimodal.com/news/press-release-1

 

The difficult steps in establishing legal precedents and frameworks to ensure the safe and efficient operations of MASS still lie ahead of us. Similarly, cyber security is still a broad field that requires detailed and extensive investigations before safe passage at sea for MASS vessels are possible. The road ahead is long and arduous, but the companies that have joined these projects have taken the first steps towards developing the technologies that will make suitable adaptations possible and thus make unmanned vessels a reality.

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

Useful Links

Blue Innovation – Drones in Port Operations

Let’s talk about Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAs) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)! These unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, have already been incorporated into our society for their flawless ability to take exceptional videos and photographs. Nevertheless, global transport and logistics companies are looking to take advantage of their functionalities and the shipping industry is not lagging behind.

Within the contributions that an RPA can already offer to transport operations we have:

  • Inspections of physical structures and patrolling of security rounds;
  • Routine inspections for maintenance of buoys, pipes, docks, breakwater cranes, roof-ships and other structures that are conventionally difficult to access;
  • Stock measurement to calculate (bulk) volumetric mass inventory;
  • Detection of irregular situations, leaks or abnormalities through (thermal and gas) sensors, as supplemental emergency support without the need to expose people to the affected areas;
  • Measurement and control of environmental aspects, detection of contamination and tracking and monitoring those responsible for the environmental breaches;
  • Mapping and surveying;
  • Generating audio-visual records of inspection for the authorities or for historical archives;
  • Among others.

The truth is that RPAs have many positive functions to bring to the port community. It is necessary to recognise that not all functions of these high tech devices are positive, and therefore an airspace overflight control would need to be established and regulated. Ports like Rotterdam, Hamburg or Antwerp have already begun regulating the use of RPAs, and allow for their use in certain operations or for inspections under previously established regulations or approvals. The port of Amsterdam has recently tested the Marine Anti Drone Systems (M.A.D.S). This system gives the port authority the possibility to try to control and protect the airspace in order to avoid violations of private security, terrorist attacks and fly-hacking, among others. It is vital, when taking advantage of these devices, to take security and other potentially negative repercussions under consideration.

One of the most interesting commercial cases of the use of RPAs in port areas cases has to do with the service of the company Willensem in Singapore. The company has been able to obtain test authorisation for an “Agency by Air” with which they intend to supply ships with small spare parts, documents, supplies or even consumables for 3D printers. This system will replace shipments by boat in order to reduce economic costs, lower pollution, and ensure faster and risk-free trans-shipment-delivery.

Similarly Airbotics, a company of Israeli origin, has incorporated the devides into a wide range of services. Some of those are applied to the maritime sector where they control traffic and monitoring in port, and undertake supervision on environmental and health issues, inspection systems and inventory tracking. Together they are supporting the construction of the port project in Haifa through mapping and inspection.

In Chile, APM Terminal works with drones for general supervision operations and risk detention. Their devices have a loudspeaker built into the RPAs, allowing the operator to give directions to truck drivers or other people on the ground.

As a final example we could mention the Balearic Islands Port Authority (APB), which has initiated a pilot programme to control and manage the public port domain by using drones in the port of Alcúdia to supervise port operations and environmental control. Currently they perform a weekly flight operated by a specialized company that provides a video and 750 orthophotos.
When it comes to RPAs and UASs, the possibilities for the shipping industry are endless. Companies have only touched on the surface of the possible applications that could be implemented to maximise productivity of the ports, enforce sustainable regulations within the port borders, and improve overall security. As with all new technologies, however, this comes with additional costs and ethical and security considerations. Ports would need to ensure a risk-free airspace for the drone operations to be successful, and if surveillance is involved, that all parties entering or leaving the port are informed of it. The ports we have listed have already taken a first step towards this incredibly exciting future – and we do not need to wait long for the rest of the world to showcase their applications.

For more information you can go to:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)