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Maritime Sector Digitalisation using AI and Automation

IoT, Artificial Intelligence and unmanned vessels are three innovations that will have major impacts on how vessels are built, operate and how stakeholders interact with cargo shipments or the State with its borders security. This is the era for the invisible and invincible guardians of state borders by water and land, the era of cyber protection and artificial intelligence to support military units, State and Commercial units.
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April 7, 2020

This is the era for the invisible and invincible guardians of state borders by water and land, the era of cyber protection and artificial intelligence to support military units, State and Commercial units. Military and commercial shipping is an industry that is heavily reliant on infrastructure and human resources. From a global trade point of view, processes such as customs handling, cargo tracking and insurance planning are crucial to the successful execution of shipments, which today usually require multi-party interactions and considerable data and information exchange. Similarly, from a maritime military and national defense perspective, the need for better resource and route planning, initially dependent on personnel’s capabilities, are amongst the factors that prompt for further adoption of technology. Therefore, emphasizing the need for digitization.

Digital transformation in the maritime industry is taking place at a greater scale, with technology often already in use in adjacent industries, such as air defense and B2C logistics, being crossed over.
Supply Chain and Shipment : Undoubtedly, supply chain management is at the core of maritime logistics; to this extent, considerable efforts are being introduced to standardize supply chains, tracking of shipments and automated shipping systems using blockchain as one of the major contenders facilitating process transparency, accuracy and security of data.
Vessel Operations : With some 94,000 commercial vessels around the world, excluding private yachts, boats, military vessels and similar, vessel operations, much like air traffic control, is necessary to avoid collisions, wrong routes, resource wastage and lost productivity. From a technological aspect, IoT supported routes and digitized resource planning are being put in place to enable the tracking of vessels, sharing of information between vessels and parties involved, and automated route planning for greater efficiency at sea and at dock. Visible innovations that have been adopted from air defense, includes the trials for crewless ships and unmanned vessels, which can be compared to aerial drones.

Vessel Design and Manufacturing : Technology in the maritime industry can be adopted in two areas, into the production sector and the operations sector. From a design and manufacturing standpoint, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is developing new methods to produce more fuel, energy and resource efficient vessels and infrastructures for defense use. This includes upgrading ships, ports and facilities, and digitizing material and energy consumption to mitigate climate change and protect marine environments. Similar initiatives include the use of hydrogen-powered ships, or in the case of the RevOcean private yacht, the use of technology enabling the tracking of GHG emissions and water treatment system for cross-contamination prevention.
Training and Management of Workforce : In spite of technological advancements, human capital still plays a major role in shipment and vessel operations. With technology taking over automated processes and operations such as customs handling, taxation, certificate management and route and resource planning, the workforce needs to be better trained at managing this technology and can focus their time on more value-added tasks. Such is the case with the METIS platform, which uses artificial intelligence to conduct tedious and time-consuming tasks. The AI platform puts at the disposal of clients, virtual cloud-based agents which are able to perform analytical tasks, engineering processes and manage data acquisition, processing and transmission. Human intervention becomes only necessary when tasks require a higher level of judgment and authority. This also facilitates maintenance of vessels as AI enables predictive maintenance through the use of various data sensors.

Legal and Regulatory Perspective : Although technology can and should be used as a force for good, it comes with its set of challenges in the legal arena. For instance, since shipping is regulated by international laws and conventions such as UNCLOS, SOLAS, etc, understanding the impact of technology on these laws, taxes and subsequent alterations of the business models is uncertain. In addition, with Internet of Things becoming more common practice from household technology, self-driving cars, and now to the shipping industry, the sharing, use, storing and ownership of data is a grey area. Highlighted concerns include stakeholders not wishing to disclose certain levels of information to other parties, and furthermore, the safety of this data will require new layers of cyber security to prevent breaches. As a result, there are certainly benefits to reap from the digitization of the maritime industry. IoT, AI and unmanned vessels are three innovations that will have major impacts on how vessels are built, operate and how stakeholders interact with cargo shipments. The main point of concern being the legal and regulatory framework need not be a barrier to progress, but rather a vehicle to enforce the just and ethical use of technology, minimising human effort and optimizing automated operations, for greater positive impact on commerce, resource usage and security.

Indicative company the Greek METIS Cybertechnology setting Information Intelligence at the disposal of the Global Maritime Industry. METIS has been designed and implemented to address the requirements of Technical & Operations Departments of Maritime Companies. The solution, powered by Artificial Intelligence incorporates fully automated, accurate and reliable Data Acquisition combined with the novel idea of virtual cloud-based agents, which analyze operational or engineering processes and provide useful feedback in the form of analysis conclusions and events detection reporting to multiple users.  METIS Agents are highly experienced Virtual Personal Assistants, that can work restlessly 365 days 24/7 and automatically inform the appropriate employee in the proper way and at the right time. All information is provided in real-time through a conversational user interface specifically adapted to the requirements of the maritime sector. METIS platform is a Cloud Space enriched with reliable information and advanced expertise, where every involved person, any automated system and software tool harmoniously collaborate to meet their expectations. METIS can take over the tedious, time-consuming procedures and actions that require high expertise and special training, ensuring more productive time for the personnel of the Maritime Companies.

ALTUS-LSA a Cretan based technology integrator providing turnkey solutions in the field of Unmanned Systems and innovative technology programs with worldwide service capabilities. The Company’s experience and expertise extend to land & maritime border surveillance, intelligence gathering, airborne ISR, environmental monitoring, natural disaster management, GIS applications, protection of critical infrastructure, SAR missions, and aerial target drone applications.

Presented Greek companies below are mentioned indicatively, as the article does not express their opinion or imply any advertisement promotion. It is my personal opinion exclusively.

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