Artificial Intelligence

Shipowners Still Not Ready to Give Up Control to Autonomous Vessels

Shipowners seem to be hesitant to relinquish control of their vessels in favor of autonomous solutions, as they trust their captains and crews more than smart technology.

In general, the shipping industry’s approach to new technologies has been described as “conservative“, especially when it comes to autonomous solutions that could theoretically replace the crew.

This has led to the slow adoption of solutions that are vital to reducing collisions, Yarden Gross, CEO of Orca AI revealed in an interview with World Maritime News.

In order to overcome the maritime industry’s fear of new technology adoption, the company has designed the Orca AI system to be “a tool that the crews can use, not to replace the crew.”

Established in 2018, Orca AI has the vision to reduce human-caused errors through intelligent autonomous vessels. The company was founded by Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, who both have served in the navy and know the industry and its needs.

“We realized that despite the technological advances being adopted for other modes of transport, the shipping industry is lagging behind. This is due to a variety of factors, including that the maritime environment requires navigation and collision avoidance technology, which need to be specifically suited to the industry and that’s what we seek to provide,” Gross said.

“We want to help create an ecosystem that will lead us to autonomous ships while keeping in mind that we’re not quite there yet.”

He added that there are things that need to be done to improve safety now — providing collision avoidance technology that works for ships.

As informed, 3,000 marine collisions occur each year and more than 75% are due to errors in human judgment. According to Gross, this is alarming as current navigational tools require a significant reliance on human judgment, which leaves room for costly error.

“Our immediate goal was to create a solution that would help ships use AI safely navigate zero and extremely low visibility conditions and crowded waterways, where the majority of collisions take place. Our solution minimizes the opportunity for errors in judgment, thereby reducing the chances of collisions.”

Orca AI system

Specifically, the Orca AI system uses sensors already on board a vessel and adds separate ones as well, such as thermal and low-light cameras, and feeds the information into an AI-powered navigation system.

The system was designed to be easy to use and intuitive, given that the crew manning the bridge is occupied with a myriad of responsibilities, so the system enables them to make smarter navigation decisions more easily. There is no training required to operate the system and it doesn’t add extra work for the crew, Yarden said.

As visibility issues are common and a big contributing factor in naval collisions, Orca AI founders said they decided to tackle that issue right from the start with sensors designed for situations with poor visibility. Orca AI is currently operational and providing crews with crucial information in piloted installations on board vessels. Those pilots are continuing as the company develops new versions of the system.

Installation

Orca AI has been installed and piloted onboard several car carriers owned by Ray Carriers, the company’s first client and key investor.

Data from the voyages that have been taken since the system installation are still being analyzed, but so far everything is looking promising, Orca AI’s co-founder said.

The Orca AI system can be used on any vessel – size is not an issue, as the sensor payload is not very large or intrusive. However, the company is focusing on larger vessels first, as the challenges of collision avoidance and costs of collisions are most pronounced for this class of ships.

“Orca AI’s navigation system is fit for all types of vessels, using information from sensors already on board and supplementing them with cameras of their own in a relatively small payload. We are looking forward to working with different classes of ships, helping them safely navigate crowded waterways and avoid collisions in hard-to-see situations where their difficulty in rapidly adjusting course makes early detection of other ships a priority,” Gross told WMN.

When asked what are the prerequisites for the installation of the Orca AI solution, Gross pointed out that there are no impediments to installing the system on any ship type. The installation is said to be straightforward and the system is easy to integrate on the bridge, so the age of the ship has no impact on the process.

AI and the maritime industry

Several autonomous vessels projects are currently being developed around the world. As informed, Orca AI is in discussions with the large technology providers that are building the eco-system for the future of autonomous vessels. Gross noted that these companies understand that they cannot build everything by themselves, so they are seeking partners to collaborate with.

“An autonomous vessels are like a puzzle, there are many crucial pieces that all need to fit together, and we are trying to build the best technology in the world for one of the most important pieces of the puzzle,” according to Gross.

Artificial Intelligence, which has been the buzzword over the recent time, is becoming increasingly important for the maritime industry as well.

“AI is a tool for solving problems that have been hard to solve until now. For the maritime industry, it is enabling us to tackle issues such as detection of ships and other items on the water, and alerting and assisting the captain and the crew with the navigation of the ship,” Gross said, adding that AI is also helping solve many more problems in the industry such as logistics, predictive maintenance, internal operations, etc.

“I think that for certain use cases AI is already able to provide real value, and as the maritime industry continues to adopt AI solutions and develop them, we will see increased efficiency and safety, as well as seeing a reduction of costs across the board,” Gross concluded.

At the end of January 2019, Orca AI closed a funding round, raising USD 2.6 million. With the help of the new funds, the company plans to grow its engineering ranks and establish an office in Europe this year.

Orca AI’s key steps for moving forward will be to continue installation of the company’s system onboard more ships, which has so far proved to be a major success. Additional partnerships with other shipping companies are currently in the works and Orca AI is ramping up production to meet the growing demand.

Source: World Maritime News

Barcelona to host the 1st World Edition of Startup Weekend focused on the logistics and maritime world

Barcelona will host the 1st World Edition of Startup Weekend focused on the logistics and maritime world, with the support of Google for Entrepreneurs and Techstars bringing together entrepreneurs to solve the major challenges of the sector.

This event will be held during the next weekend of May 17, 18 and 19 at the new facilities of OneCowork. This edition will have the collaboration of different companies and institutions of the logistics sector.

Encouraging entrepreneurship, disrupting the logistics sector and solving major challenges are the goals that this edition of Startup Weekend Barcelona aims to achieve with its new Maritime & Blue Logistics edition in May 2019.

It is expected to bring together the 100 entrepreneurs of different profiles. Businesses, developers, designers and technicians of the logistics sector with business ideas that revolutionise the logistics sector as we know it today, networking and sharing experiences.

On Friday, May 17th, participant will present their business ideas and then the most promising ones will be selected. The objective during the weekend is to work in the business model with countless partners and specialist mentors from the sector to learn, inspire and discover new solutions.

About Techstars Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend ™ is a 54-hour event, in which groups made up of different professional profiles such as developers, business, entrepreneurship enthusiasts, designers and, in this edition, specialists in the logistics sector will be challenged to move from an idea to a product  or business. The teams will work throughout the weekend collaborating to achieve a viable minimum product to submit to the verdict of the jury, composed of executives and specialists in the logistics sector.

Startup Weekend was born in 2007 and by 2016 it has grown to have a global presence. In December 2016, Startup Weekend reached a presence in 140 countries, and more than 1100 cities, involving more than 234,000 enterprising participants. Startup Weekend is a program of Techstars Startup Programs, along with Startup Week and Startup Digest.

Founded in July 2007 in Boulder, Colorado by Andrew Hyde, Startup Weekend brought together 70 entrepreneurs to try to start a startup in just 54 hours. The model quickly expanded to other cities around the world. In 2010, Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen took full ownership and registered the non-profit organisation, moving to Seattle. After the acquisition, Startup Weekend would organize 80 events in the United States, Canada, England and Germany. In December 2010, the organisation had 8 full-time employees, more than 15 facilitators and more than 100 local organizers. In 2016, Startup Weekend is in more than 1000 cities around the world. Startup Weekend is an initiative created by Techstars and has the support of Google for Entrepreneurs .

Important startups have come out of this initiative, which today are consolidated companies such as: Zapier , Foodspotting , Hydrate or Haiku Deck

Maritime & Blue Logistics

We premiered with an event where we expect 100 participants and a team of mentors that will turn this edition into a unique opportunity to update, undertake, network and have fun. The event will be in English and it is expected to obtain an important attendance of both international and local entrepreneurs. For this edition, we have great sponsors, partners and companies that are betting on this initiative such as the logistics company Grupo Romeu , the company accelerator Founder Institute, Marinel-lo Abogados , design agency Jaimitos , ATEIA , Portic , Kantox and the Port of Barcelona .

For more information you can go to : www.startupweekendbarcelona.com

The Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport is collaborating in this event, and as such it can offer a discount of 25% to our students and visitors to our website. To take advantage of this discount, click HERE

#DidYouKnow – LCL packaging and shipments

In this article for #DidYouKnow we consider the steps and precautions that need to be taken into account in consolidated shipments and groupage operations.

When sending an ocean freight LCL (Less than a Container Load) shipment the cargo needs to be carefully prepared. LCL shipments require container sharing, and therefore the shippers need to take extra caution to ensure the integrity of the merchandise handled.

Source: Fortune Global

The two most common causes for damages to LCL loads are the collapse of stowed materials caused by the shipper’s improper stowage of cargo inside the container, and insufficient individual packaging and contamination caused by the incompatibility of cargo within the same container.

This prompted us to draft this article to clarify the issue at hand: How should an LCL shipment be properly packaged and prepared? Certain aspects need to be considered when ensuring safe transportation of this type of cargo. Some of these include identifying whether the goods in the shipment are fragile, and how many boxes will eventually comprise the entire consignment. Once these questions are ascertained, the shipper can prepare the packaging and the proceed with the labeling of the goods.

In terms of the boxes and packaging, the general rule of thumb is to pack all the goods in boxes, and avoid the use of suitcases or bags. Ideally, special boxes designed for export should be used. Should the shipment contain delicate merchandise, the empty space inside the boxes should be filled with plastic packaging bubbles for added padding and protection. Finally, each box needs to be individually and securely sealed.

On the outside of the boxes clear labels need to be placed, containing the names of the shipper and the consignees, country of destination, name of the freight forwarder and the booking number. If the merchandise is fragile, the “Fragile” label should appear on the sides of the boxes. There are other types of labels that could be added to containers with delicate cargo. These include the orientation of the box to be handled, storage advice, chemical identifiers, etc. Whether or not the labels are placed on the boxes is up to the shipper and to the nature of the cargo.

The labels should also identify the total number of boxes within each shipment. The label should have a number that indicates each box position with respect to the total number of boxes: “Box 1 of 30”.

Finally, when preparing the boxes merchandise needs to be arranged evenly and uniformly. Shipping prices are calculated based on the cubic volume of the contents. Once cargo volume is calculated and the booking is placed with a freight forwarder, it is time to start thinking about palletising the goods. Unlike an FCL shipment where goods can travel loosely within a container, LCL containers are shared. Everything has to be perfectly and properly palletised. When measuring the volume of your shipment, one needs to always take into consideration the pallets used.

Once all of these steps have been taken, the shipment is ready to be sent on its way to its final destination in a safe and organised fashion.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes, Training Programmes & External Relations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

The Escola Europea reaffirms its commitment to the Motorways of the Sea

On the 4th of April the Steering Committee of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport met in the framework of the “Motorways of the Sea in the Western Mediterranean – Climate Action Programme 2020 The Way Forward” conference in Barcelona. The Committee, which comprises representatives from the primary stakeholders fo the Escola, is tasked with establishing the strategic direction of the institution.

The meeting brought together, among others, the president of the Port of Barcelona and of the Escola Europea Mercè Conesa; the commercial director of short sea shipping in Grimaldi Lines and the president of the ALIS group, Guido Grimaldi; the president of the ports of Rome Francesco Maria di Majo; the CEO of Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) Matteo Catani; the president of the Ports of Genoa Paolo Emilio Signorini (via teleconference); and the director of the Escola Europea, Eduard Rodés.

During the meeting the Escola’s achievements of 2018 were highlighted and the goals for 2019 were solidified. The participants confirmed that the Escola is consolidating its role as a reference for training both on local and international levels, not only in short sea shipping but in the intermodal transport sector in general. Some of the institution’s achievements of 2018 were:

  • In 2018, the Escola has organised more tan 35 courses with more than 1300 participants coming from Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. The increase in the number of participants coming from the other side of the Atlantic and from throughout the Mediterranean was noted. This international flow helps spread the European model of short sea shipping to the African and American continents, contributing to the improvement of sustainable transport globally.
  • In the framework fo the TransLogMED Project, the Escola has organised: two conferences in Sfax and Algiers; three training courses, one of which was aimed at senior Algerian officials and with the collaboration of the World Bank, and another one aimed at senior officials from the Tunisian government; and 4 collaboration agreements were signed with relevant bodies in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Moreover, the Escola has participated in various industry fairs in the participating countries.
  • The Escola has been the project office of various actions financed by European funds, including CarEsmatic, Core LNGas Hive, and is part of the consortium that is running the RePort project financied byt eh RIS3CAT programme.

During the event the Committee approved actions for 2019, including:

  • The new technical courses “Temperature Controlled Supply Chains” and “Port Operations: Vessels & Goods”, which will have renewed and more complete programmes when compared to the previous editions
  • The Formati al Porto programme, based on the very successful Forma’t al Port model which has in the past few years achieved tremendous results in Barcelona, will be developed from the newely opened offices of the Escola in the headquarters of the Port Authority of the Ports of Rome ( Autoridad del Sistema Portuario del Mar Tirreno Centro Septentrional)

2019 shows all signs of being a very intensive one for the Escola Europea, with courses for professionals programmed for the autumn and courses for university and professional training students scheduled throughout the year. In the past decade, the organisation has increased its influence in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean through the development of new and innovative courses for students and professionals, the signing of new agreements with influential universities and training centres, and the active participation in European projects.

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Improving Ocean Shipping: Blockchain Reaction

Blockchain technology is capturing interest across the supply chain, and the maritime industry is no exception. Nine ocean carriers and terminal operators are so interested that they recently formed a consortium to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), an open digital platform based on distributed ledger technology.

Participants in the consortium include CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen Marine, OOCL, and Yang Ming as well as terminal operators DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA International Ltd., and Shanghai International Port.

“The new platform, an ecosystem for the shipping community, will connect all shareholders including ocean carriers, terminal operators, customs authorities, shippers, and logistics providers to realize collaborative innovation and digital transformation in the supply chain,” according to a Yang Ming spokesman.

These goals are similar to the expectations expressed by Maersk and Kuehne + Nagel, early adopters of blockchain technology.

In January 2018, A. P. Moller-Maersk and IBM announced plans to pursue blockchain solutions. Then in August 2018, the two companies collaborated to create TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution.

Ninety-four organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate in the TradeLens ecosystem, including 20 port and terminal operators accounting for approximately 234 marine gateways worldwide, Additionally, customs authorities, freight forwarders, and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) have joined.

Freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel participates in a blockchain consortium consisting of consultancy Accenture, ocean carrier APL, and shipper AB InBev.

In its most basic form, blockchain is “shared ledger technology” enabling a single, shared, tamper-proof ledger, according to IBM. Once recorded, transactions cannot be altered. Anticipated benefits include less paper processing, increased transaction time speed, and improved efficiencies.

Although it is often used as a single technology, there are two different types of blockchain: public and private. Some of the most commonly known public blockchains are the cryptocurrency ones used for bitcoin transactions. Because these are completely transparent, participants are concerned about dealing with sensitive information, such as commercial contracts.

CARING ABOUT SHARING

Sharing the exact details of contracts and transactions is problematic for freight forwarders, ocean carriers, and shippers. These various stakeholders may collaborate with each other, but not with their competitors. This level of transparency may be an issue with supply chain strategy increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies and freight forwarders seeking differentiation in a crowded and fragmented market.

While a consistent wave of ocean carrier consolidation has occurred in the past few years, the remaining players still compete for volume. Empty containers do not generate revenue.

Private blockchains allow users different permission levels, so access can be restricted, and information can be encrypted to adapt to users’ needs.

Transporting goods internationally can become complex, both in terms of physical distribution and cross-border data exchange. Documents related to hazardous cargo, invoicing, cargo release, and other required customs information are vital to the actual movement of goods.

One missing or inaccurate form can keep freight from being delivered. Unlike domestic U.S.-based transportation, global shippers cannot immediately contact a provider and have a new truck dispatched within moments or hours to avert the supply chain implications of a missed or delayed delivery.

One reason the maritime industry is embracing blockchain is to “reform document processes of shipping management,” says a Yang Ming spokesman. The first prototype of GSBN allows shippers to digitize their documents and proceed to automatically exchange data with relevant supply chain parties. This simplifies the complicated documentation process and expedites the delivery of goods.

THE BUSINESS CASE

“Blockchain might not be able to solve, cure, or save everything as the hype suggests, but there are certainly applications where the business case makes sense,” says Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM and a supply chain technology analyst. “It makes sense in global trade because of the many different parties, documents, regulations, and financial transactions involved.”

HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS USED IN OCEAN FREIGHT

Kuehne + Nagel’s first blockchain activities date back to 2016, when the concept received board-level support and it began case identification workshop.

“Our approach is to work with customers and business partners on real-world use cases in open and collaborative consortia,” says Inge Ole Ottemoller, senior IT https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/improving-ocean-shipping-blockchain-reaction/consultant and blockchain expert for Kuehne + Nagel. “Using new technologies such as blockchain is an element of business strategy to continuously improve our processes as well as the business model.”

Fast forward to 2019, and Kuehne + Nagel states there is much work still to be done to achieve the promise of blockchain technology. “Blockchain has the potential to enable further digitalization of existing processes,” Ottemoller notes. “But the technology is still at a very early stage.” .

“With the experience already gained, the technology used at the present time does not yet have the maturity for productive use in extensive, complex applications,” he adds. “In particular, the requirements for maintainability and automated operation are hardly met.”

However, some successes have come from its blockchain consortium, which has focused on one central document in ocean freight: the bill of lading. “The consortium already developed a proof-of-concept for an electronic bill of lading use case from export and import to a common blockchain-based ledger,” reports Kuehne + Nagel.

This group effort “demonstrated how the application of blockchain for issuing and exchanging bills of lading can unleash huge efficiencies for the industry due to seamless and tamper-proof data integration,” says Ottemoller. “The need for printed shipping documents is rendered obsolete.”

Maersk also reports benefits from its adoption of blockchain technology, and specifically, the TradeLens application.

The platform has captured more than 154 million shipping events, including arrival times of vessels and container “gate-in,” and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices, and bills of lading. In the past, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems shared some of this data in the supply chain.

The TradeLens platform has already proven to be effective. One example Maersk reports is a 40 percent reduction in transit times to ship packaging materials to a production line, avoiding thousands of dollars in costs.

The GSBN consortium hopes to achieve these types of real-world supply chain enhancements. “We are always willing to try innovative technologies to keep up with the digital transformation of the shipping industry in collaboration with others,” says a Yang Ming spokesman.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCKCHAIN

The blockchain “revolution” has also lured new players to the market, such as CargoX, a company that created a neutral, open, independent platform available to ocean carriers and other stakeholders. While other consortiums may be limited in the ability to expand or onboard new carriers, “Our platform solves these issues, as it is based on a neutral, open, public Ethereum blockchain network,” notes Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX.

Although public, the CargoX platform is secure because the transparency it provides, “only relates to the transparency of time-stamps of certain transactions,” Kukman says. “What is being translated is completely invisible, as the content of the documents and data fields is encrypted and secured from unauthorized viewing.”

Recently, CargoX customer ShipChain completed a successful blockchain-based pilot shipping initiative with Perdue Farms. During the pilot, ShipChain tracked Perdue fleet data and recorded it in the Ethereum blockchain.

Early adopters such as Kuehne + Nagel remain optimistic about the future of blockchain and the maritime industry. The freight forwarder is using the application in the areas of workflow, trade finance, provenance, and visibility.

THE RIGHT DIRECTION

“The development points in the right direction, so it can be assumed that the technology will reach the required level of maturity in the future,” says Ottemoller. “Thanks to the project experience already gained, Kuehne + Nagel is in a position to have an educated judgement on the state of play for this new technology.”

The many companies adopting blockchain platforms share a common vision of the technology’s benefits to the supply chain, and the ocean freight sector specifically. These include:

  • Reduced paper-based processes
  • Reduced waiting time
  • Faster transit times
  • Transparency across processes and company boundaries

QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

As additional new entities enter the same space with unique platforms, however, reaching these goals may be a challenge for shippers.

With providers ranging from ocean carriers to freight forwarders to software companies offering different options for blockchain platforms and consortiums, how does a shipper that does not want to work with only one provider deal with the challenge of enabling integration and interoperability between those platforms? With multiple groups working to establish global shipping standards, which standards will ultimately benefit shippers most?

Gonzalez also raises another area of potential concern: Can any technology, new or dated, overcome bad data? “It’s important to note that blockchain doesn’t erase the fact that supply chains still suffer from crappy data,” Gonzalez cautions. “It doesn’t erase the integration challenge of aggregating, cleansing, and linking together data that is spread out across many different applications.

“Some were built in the 1970s, across many companies and countries, some with limited or no IT capabilities and stored in many different formats, including email and faxes,” he adds. “In short, blockchain by itself does not solve the problem of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ data quality problems, but it is a distributed ledger that is better encrypted and traceable.”

DIGITALIZATION AGENDA

Other issues beyond the scope of blockchain alone need to be resolved to improve efficiency in the ocean freight industry. “Digitalization and blockchain are not synonyms,” notes Kukman. “They are tightly connected because the shipping industry is lagging behind in its digital processing.

“But blockchain implementation is just a part of the whole digitalization agenda,” he adds. “And digitalization as such is inevitable—it is time that the paper processing machinery is transformed into modern, trustworthy digital solutions.”

Whether using a CargoX platform or another application for blockchain, the ocean freight industry must embrace technology to “deal with the problems that arise from the snail’s pace of transferring paper documents,” Kukman states. Paper documents can be damaged, lost, or even forged or stolen.

“Those ocean carriers that don’t embrace digitalization will start losing their market share,” predicts Kukman. “Global trade relies on digital data and new services, and this reliance will just get stronger. The carriers that decide to adopt blockchain know what the advantages are.”

End customers will have the greatest benefit in knowing where existing documents, transactions and goods are located, as well as whose turn it is to make the next step in the process,” Kukman adds.

Additional benefits for end users are likely to be realized in the area of forecasting. “The CargoX platform provides new ways of analyzing past business events to support forecasting loads and volume, identifying throughput bottlenecks, and other issues,” Kukman says.

One of the biggest impediments to blockchain and other forms of digitalization is the fact that many companies still rely on paper processes because “that’s the way it has always been done.” That kind of thinking is what will determine winners from losers in the future because, says Kukman, “We don’t ride horses for transportation anymore, do we?”

Source: Inbound Logistics

Automation Lessons from Other Sectors

In a previous insight, Port Technology focused on how automation could impact the employment of both landside workers and seafarers in the shipping industry, where it is predicted that many jobs could be replaced by intelligent machines and systems.

Despite these concerns, maritime is not the only field which automation could seriously effect.

In fact, many other business areas have already changed massively as a result of technological advances like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Manufacturing

Those responsible for driving change in the maritime sector, especially with regard to cargo-handling operations onshore, could look to the example of other industrial sectors like manufacturing when thinking about how to implement automation successfully.

Even a quick comparison of the two areas reveals a number of similarities; materials need to be handled quickly and safely, a repetitive but important process which seems well-suited to the application of robotics.

Skilled professionals in the manufacturing business are likely to share some of the same concerns as their counterparts at ports and terminals, yet it is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency for manufacturers and factories.

The initial cost of automation is higher than paying workers to perform the same job, even if machines are able to outperform the human workforce in some capacities. As with process automation at ports and terminals, the key to success is finding out what should be automated.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency
  • The key to success is finding out exactly what should be automated

Warehousing and Distribution

Closely connected to maritime trade and part of the logistics sector, warehousing is a crucial node in the wider supply chain and a hotbed for effective automation.

While the level of technological advancement across warehouses will of course depend on such factors as company size, location and the specific demands placed on any one distribution centre, leading players in the market are following the lead of other industries and expanding their use of robotics.

The question though – for the shipping industry – is how this transition to automated processes can be carried out purposefully.

In the case of XPO Logistics, developing technological solutions fit for purpose has been fundamental.

Collaborating with Singapore-based GreyOrange to deploy 5,000 intelligent robots throughout centres in Europe and North America, the autonomous machines perform a key function within “a modular goods-to-person system” that includes the efficient movement of mobile storage racks.

Key Takeaway:

  • Developing technological solutions fit for purpose
Self-Driving cars

While much of the conversation and early development around automation has concerned the increasing intelligence of landside operations, the impact of smart technologies is not only being felt on shore.

With multiple projects and start-ups currently exploring the possibility of autonomous vessels which can safely navigate from one location to another, even in the presence of other marine traffic, there are many technological hurdles which still need to be jumped.

The growing area of self-driving cars, a mainstream point of discussion in the media today, corresponds quite closely with the less reported interest in autonomous vessels; both have prompted questions regarding safety and security, especially as the digital systems which guide them have not proven entirely immune from attack.

In the case of self-driving vehicles though, standards are being created by the UK Government and other authorities to ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies. With several carriers already suffering from major hacks, including COSCO in 2018, establishing the security of pilotless ships should be a priority.

Key Takeaway:

  • Ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies

Air Freight

In our modern age of next-day-delivery and thriving e-commerce, it is not surprising that air freight has gained a distinct advantage over ocean shipping. If you can move goods more quickly, you become a more attractive option for the customer.

While the very nature of transporting cargo via air separates this business area from maritime, leading companies in the air freight space are finding ways to boost their efficiency and competitiveness through automation.

Just as digital technologies have been developed to make commercial airlines run more smoothly, cargo planes are using electronic bills of lading and tracking solutions widely to exchange information and ensure that the movement of goods remains transparent and traceable.

Greater visibility ultimately begets greater efficiency, as being able to monitor your supply chain also allows one to plan effectively, especially in situations where delays or other barriers to free movement are experienced. When approaching automation, the maritime sector would be wise to keep this fundamental principle in mind.

Source: Port Technology

#DidYouKnow – A short story of the refrigerated container

This week we wanted to discuss the evolution of the refrigerated container. Reefer transport, one using refrigerated trucks, trailers and shipping containers is used to ship items that require temperature-controlled environments. Reefer freight is vital nowadays due to the time and temperature sensitive cargo being shipped across larger and larger distances in shorter time frames.

Before modern-day shipping containers appeared in the mid-20th century, loading and unloading of vessels comprised very labour-intensive and time-consuming exercises. Barrels, sacks and wooden crates of various sizes and shapes were used to carry goods to the port, where they were then loaded onto the dock and transferred to waiting ships for their oceanic journeys.

Back in the 16th century seafood products were very popular but, due to the difficulty in transporting them, were limited to people living near coastal areas, rivers or lakes.

In the early 1800’s ice and salt were placed under and alongside cargo with the aim to reduce spoilage. Though an improvement, it was still impractical. Livestock was dying in transit resulting in significant profit losses for farmers. Meat products were also going off before reaching their final destinations.

  1. 1867. The first patent for refrigerated rail cars was granted to J.B Sutherland from Detroit. His design for reefers included a special holding area for ice at each end of the purpose built box car.
  2. 1876. Charles Tellier, the “Father of the Cold”, created the 1st ether-based refrigeration system to maintain a temperature of 0°C inside the boxes. Their tiny size allowed scientist to install three of them on a steamboat called “The Frigorific.”
  3. 1877. Another French engineer, Ferdinand Carré, perfected Charles Tellier’s system, managing to ship 150 tonnes of frozen meat over 50 days, from Sydney to the UK, in a ship equipped with compression refrigeration. The journey successfully transported all perishable cargo without any incidents.

1900’s. The 1st refrigerated vessels specially designed to transport bananas, such as the Port Morant, appeared in 1901. CO2 machines were then used to reduce the temperature and control it. This marked a decisive step forward for the transport of temperature sensitive fruit.

Mid-way through the 1930’s the first portable air-cooling unit was invented by Fred Jones. These units were placed on the outside of trucks that carried perishable foods. By the late 1930’s refrigerated trailers were reaching 38-40 feet in length.

It is not until the 1950s/60s that we entered the golden age of refrigerated containers, a real revolution in the shipping world. By then reefer transport was better controlled and new foodstuffs, such as tropical fruits or even meat, could be shipped across any ocean.

The 1970s saw the arrival of refrigerated containers especially designed to be transported by container carriers. Reefer containers existed in various shapes and sizes each were equipped with their own, separate cooling units controlling the inside atmosphere. Onboard a ship, the reefers were plugged into the onboard power supply system. At the terminals or when carried inland they were connected to reefer plug points or provided with a clip-on generator sets. This system is still largely in use today within the cold supply chain.

The Future: new systems are being created and are already in operation that make controlling various parameters of the container remotely possible. These include temperature control, accidents, door openings, alarms, etc. This type of smart technology will enable a better control of container transport from its origin to the destination.

The success of companies that transport temperature-controlled products comes down to knowing how to ship a product with temperature control adapted to the shipping circumstances and to each type of equipment used, as well as their knowledge of the requirements of each perishable goods type. We are now in the twentieth century and we are seeing a glimpse of the power that the Internet of Things has over transport equipment. At the Escola we are excited to see how the reefer containers continue to evolve and facilitate safe and rapid transport.

Intrigued? You can learn about reefer containers and temperature-controlled supply chains in our technical course dedicated especially to this type of transport. Register now here.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes, Training Programmes & External Relations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

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)

The jobs of the Future

Talking about the jobs of the future has become fashionable. What will a white-collar professional look like? For many years now, researches have been predicting that new technologies, constantly evolving, will be incorporated into our daily lives to the extent that they will substantially change the way we work. Nevertheless, it is still not clear what, how and when these changes will take place.

The end of February saw the Mobile World Congress, which was held in Barcelona. Following the gathering we now know that networks with 5G technologies will be deployed quickly. The Port of Barcelona has set aside considerable investment in the network’s installation. From then on we can look forward to robots, automation processes, sensorisation, big data, IoT, drones and so on and so forth.

A news item from the Spanish online magazine El País Digital dated 25 February 2019 further underlined the issue: “Before the halfway point of the year is passed, the Ford and Nissan plants (with more than 10,000 workers between the two) will reveal what future awaits them. Doubts about the future of diesel and the risks about how the transition to electric cars will be dealt with and whether the Spanish industry will be able to climb on the bandwagon to produce them. “

Employees who know how to make cars with traditional internal combustion engines will now have produce electric cars. The electrical engineering skills for these new vehicles might be better found among employees of a washing machine factory rather than the workforce of current-day carmakers. We are living in a world of disruptive changes that demand a very high adaptability.

We are told that many of the current jobs will disappear and new ones will be created, but we do not know which ones, nor do we know the specific skills that will have to be acquired. Even if we had the advantage of foresight, it would not be easy to react either as surely, we do not yet have readily available teachers or experts prepared to train others in these subjects.

I, as the director, am fortunate because the Escola Europea has a magnificent vantage point to see and assess the situation in many training centres in Europe and across the Mediterranean shores. A significant number of students and teachers pass through our classrooms. We spend a lot of time together, and this gives us the opportunity to get to know each other and to talk a little about a myriad of topics.  I’ve seen that the majority is worried about the future, and about whether the students are well prepared for what faces them in the road ahead.

Our teachers are exceptional, but nevertheless they are aware that the problem is universal and affects everyone. They also are faced with the challenge of teaching skills that they themselves have not yet fully mastered. The VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) imposes itself.

According to the study by the Barcelona business school IESE “The Future of Occupation and Future Professional Skills” ( February 2019), what we can see is that the knowledge gap in technology and digitalization is following a continuous upward trend. “48% of companies detect deficiencies in vocational training graduates. Likewise, companies consider that the knowledge gap in areas such as big data, digital marketing, artificial intelligence or blockchain will be even bigger in five years, which increases the challenge of improving the education system”. Companies consider that they have to play a more active role in the definition of future professional competences and in the contents of training. They need, on the part of the education system, a more complete, holistic and practical training, with emphasis on the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed in the coming years. A more intense collaboration of the different actors is needed. 87% of the companies that participated in the study considered it important for them play a more active role in defining the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes that are in demand in the industry. They expressed their willingness to collaborate in the creation of training plans with the educational centres in this vital task.

The message is clear. The responsibility for training belongs not only to the educational institutions, but also to the companies themselves, and to the workers already active in the sector who should get their associations and professional networks involved.

We all owe recognition to those professionals who devote part of their time to training others. At the Escola we know this very well and are indebted to the individuals who come to lecture in our classrooms or carry out the practical workshops, and share their professional expertise and advice with us and our students. I ask you for the recognition and gratitude they deserve for the work they do.

If you are interested in this topic, it is worth spending some time on the report that the world economic forum produced in 2018 (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018).

We must think of strategies that will allow us to facilitate the transition into this new technology-dominant professional landscape. And we have to be prepared for the surprises that will inevitably come up. Personally, I strongly believe that we will have a much better world, albeit a drastically different one from what we have today.

 

Eduard Rodés Director Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

 

The Escola opens up registrations to 2019 Technical Courses

The Escola constantly tries to identify what is lacking in the educational sphere of intermodal transport, in particular in light of the continuously changing landscape of the sector. New technologies bring new procedures, which in turn call for new skills of the operators and professionals involved. This gave birth to the Escola’s technical courses, which take a close look at specialised transport in today’s everchanging climate.

In the second quarter of 2019, the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport will offer specialised technical courses for professionals in the logistics-port sector. There will be two editions of specialised training in May and June.

The first technical course will focus on temperature-controlled supply chains. It will take place from 6th to 9th of May in Barcelona. The contents of the course focus on how temperature-controlled products (stored, handled and transported) should be circulated through the distribution networks (manufacturers, service providers and customers) in accordance with their specified temperature conditions. Visits to Mercabarna (the wholesale market of Barcelona), a container terminal, an importer/distributor’s storage facilities, container depot and the Border Inspection Point (BIP) will accompany the theory taught in the classrooms. Organised in collaboration with the Port of Barcelona, Mercabarna, Barcelona Container Depot Service, Frimercat and Cultivar, the course is aimed at manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors and shippers of temperature-controlled cargo and perishable products. For more information on the course, please visit:

https://escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/temperature-controlled-supply-chains/

The second technical course scheduled for June 17-19 focuses on groupage operations and consolidation centres. It will similarly take place in Barcelona, training participants in the handling of groupage shipments, consolidation centres, import/export procedures, customs, etc. To give a practical understanding of the theory imparted, visits will be made to a container terminal and consolidation warehouses. The course is organised in collaboration with the Romeu Group, International Forwarding S.L., CWT Globelink Group, Terminal Hutchison Ports BEST, Ibercondor, ATEIA-OLTRA and the Port of Barcelona. For more information on the course, please visit:

https://escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/groupage-and-consolidation-centres-2019/