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Why Real-Time Data Matters to the Maritime Industry

In the face of the current 4th industrial revolution, it is interesting to take a look what changes are taking place in the virtual space of maritime transport. This month, we wanted to share with you an article, originally posted on the Sofar Ocean website, dealing with real-time data and why it matters to the maritime industry and its on-shore and off-shore actors. 

 

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This article originally appeared on the Sofar Ocean website

Over 90% of the world’s trade is in the hands of the international maritime shipping industry. Every year, it moves more than USD 4 trillion of goods. For shipping companies, there’s a lot of pressure to remain on schedule, protect the cargo ship and crew, and ensure profitability. It is not an easy task.
This interactive map of the world’s main shipping routes provides a glimpse of the industry’s complexity. 90,000 vessels cross paths as they transport goods from one continent to another on a daily basis.

 

The map was created by London-based data visualisation studio Kiln and the UCL Energy Institute

It’s clear from this map that the maritime industry involves an intricate system of transportation. To complicate things, ports and vessels are also subject to the forces of nature, which are becoming harder and harder to predict. With all of these obstacles in the way, shipping companies must be able to adapt to changing situations and act fast. This is where Sofar Ocean comes in. We believe that with real-time big data analytics, however, the maritime industry can better navigate these unexpected challenges.

What is Real-Time Big Data?

Big data is a field that extracts and analyses data from data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. Real-time capabilities mean that those insights are delivered immediately after collection.

How does Real-Time Big Data Help the Maritime Industry?

Maritime companies generate data from different sources and in several formats. Traditionally, these insights are fixed, siloed, and inconsistent. Actioning this information is time-consuming and a major complication point for shipping companies.

With big data tools, this inflow of data is collated and organised in a cloud-based system. This system then analyses and extrapolates the relevant data in real-time, which promotes better decision making. Nothing is left to intuition or chance—therewith unlocking opportunities to drive greater efficiencies.

Efficient Maritime Operations and Logistics

Overall operations and logistics, for example, become much more efficient with real-time data. Companies can obtain information through GPS and RFID tags to help locate containers and ships immediately. Data technology also helps synchronise communication to manage ship arrivals, berthings, and departures safely and efficiently. And in case of an emergency, non-availability of the labour, or terminal allocations, real-time data helps ships plan their routes and speeds accordingly.

Due to climate change, this ability to pivot has never been so relevant. Although the interactive map above demonstrates that the global maritime industry is a well-oiled machine, the ocean’s climate—currents, waves, and wind—are more unpredictable than ever. Real-time data streamlines decision making and supports ad hoc navigation to ensure companies maximise returns.

Fuel-efficient routing

By having access to real-time sea state observations—currents, waves, and swell—vessel operators can re-route according to current ocean and weather conditions while optimising fuel efficiency. Inefficient weather routing oftentimes leads to the increased time spent at sea, which not only disrupts and delays the supply chain but can also increase fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

In addition to increasing voyage earnings, fuel-efficient routing also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, supporting the latest GHG reduction strategy developed in 2018 by the International Maritime Organization. The initial strategy envisages that the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. What does 50% look like? The IMO calculated that vessels released 1.12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide the year before, in 2007. So we can guess that emissions need to be reduced by 560 million metric tons. That’s equivalent to emissions from 102 million cars!

So are we saying that real-time data helps reduce fuel costs and GHG emissions? Yes, yes we are. Not a bad day at the office.

Is Real-Time Big Data Safe From Cyber Threats?

We hear this question a lot, and rightly so. The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) onboard ships—and their connection to the internet—creates an increased attack surface that requires greater cyber risk management.

On the IT side, the chances of cyberattacks can be mitigated through proper implementation of encryption techniques like blockchain technology. From an operational standpoint, IMO maintains that effective cyber risk management should start at the senior management level—embedding a culture of cyber risk awareness into all levels and departments of an organisation. You can read more about this in BIMCO’s Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships.

Full Speed Ahead for the Maritime Industry

Is it possible that the maritime industry can become bigger and better? More lucrative, while emitting less GHG emissions? We believe so.

Knowledge is power. By implementing real-time insights in daily operations, shipping companies are well-positioned to navigate anything that comes their way. And how this year has gone, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an edge on the unexpected.

Curious what real-time data looks like? Take a peek at Sofar Ocean’s publicly available weather network dashboard, which offers real-time open-ocean marine weather observation data from over 500 weather sensors worldwide!

This article was originally posted on Sofar Ocean

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)

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