The maritime industry is slowly beginning to adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology.
According to Ericsson, although ships were responsible for around 80 percent of global trade as recently as 2013, the maritime industry remains well behind alternative transport in the implementation of IoT technology. That’s almost 10 billion tons of cargo, with few operators applying the latest trends to make journeys and processes more efficient.
But things are beginning to change. Ericsson is one example of a provider offering IIoT solutions to the shipping industry. The company launched its Maritime ICT Cloud last year in an effort to better connect vessels at sea with shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centers, fleet/transportation partners, port operations, and authorities.
Transforming maritime navigation
There are several ways that the IoT can be applied to make shipping more efficient and safer. One of those is navigation. For generations, ship captains have communicated to each other using radios as a way to declare travel intentions and avoid collisions. But that kind of approach will also lead to the occasional human error, which could have implications on both fuel efficiency and, in a worst-case scenario, cause a crash.
Now, several companies offer live navigation platforms that allow captains to share data on an interactive map to provide other seafarers route intentions and estimated time of arrivals in real time. Speaking with OpenSource Delivers, Bastø Fosen ferry company captain and safety advisor, Gisle Stava, said that “Knowing each ships’ intentions, we can optimize our speed and avoid unnecessary and long rerouting”.
The piece of software used by the Bastø Fosen ferry company is known as REX, or Route Exchange. “If there is a potential conflict with the risk of a collision and my ship has right of way, I, as a captain, can change course with drag-and-drop on the screen. As soon as I confirm my selection, the captains on the other ships will see the new course and see the danger is over.”
Last week, the world’s largest shipping container firm, Maersk Line, finished the process of bringing two thirds of its vessels online in a partnership with Ericsson. The transition was four years in the making, and will change the way that Maersk Line monitors its cargo, among other things.
A statement from Ericcson highlights the importance of having a clear idea of what state cargo is in for the duration of any voyage: “Keeping track of so much cargo is incredibly challenging, and there is much to be gained from connecting containers wirelessly, monitoring them and making real-time information about their whereabouts and environmental conditions easily available via an integrated dashboard.”
Consultancy Accenture last summer launched a partnership with Hyundai Heavy Industries, to assist the logistics giant with the building of more connected, smarter ships. Eric Schaeffer, senior managing director at Accenture, said “Businesses can gain a competitive advantage by embracing the connectivity wave underpinning the Internet of Things and integrating digital services into their products to keep pace with the next wave of innovation.”
“Our collaboration with Hyundai Heavy Industries utilizes our digital technology and deep industry experience to enable a traditional ‘products’ company to adapt its business model, taking advantage of digital technologies like analytics. Hyundai Heavy Industries’ willingness to create value for its customers through adopting elements of the Internet of Things is a great step on its digital transformation journey.”