The slogan during the last few years is one: digital transformation everywhere! The 4th Industrial Revolution leads to a complete digital transformation for the operations of every business. This transformation process is “transforming” every sector, from manufacturing to healthcare, and from commerce to transportation. The shipping industry could not be absent from this context, as it comes to meet its own transformation through Maritime 4.0!
Digital transformation was a process that affected us rapidly. And it is true that the shipping industry, as a more “traditional” and “difficult” sector to adopt innovations and new ideas, seems like a giant that is difficult to follow and pioneer in the digital field.
However, the beginning is already afoot, and is progressing at a significant pace! According to research published by Wärtsilä Marine Business, two-thirds of shipping companies have started their digital journey. And this is just the beginning, as 69% are currently experimenting with digital solutions!
After all, we are at a turning point, with shipping companies looking for ways to leverage new technologies to improve productivity and efficiency of their investments, and get even more value from their fleets.
For shipping to continue to play a vital role in international trade, both ships and port cities that are maritime “hubs” will need to incorporate new technological innovations into their infrastructure and operations. Of course, always keeping the topic of cybersecurity on the agenda – as there were more than a few times when they were targeted.
Somehow, the adoption of digitization and automation is expanding in the shipping industry. Digital technologies and solutions are used to increase competitiveness and improve operational efficiency.
They are also being implemented to guide the industry along a path of decarbonisation, aiming for zero emissions and fuel savings.
In addition, access to a wealth of data from sensors and other information sources, can be used to make decisions for improved monitoring, control, quality assurance, early repair, and verification.
The possibilities offered by 5G, artificial intelligence, big data, data analytics, the Internet of Things, automation, blockchain, Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, robotics, and machine learning, are coming together and they offer their benefits to the whole of global shipping: crews, shipping companies, port authorities, and end customers.
Companies in this sector are invited to advance the digitalization processes, in order to remain competitive and take the lead, as part of an integrated ecosystem!
It is also true that they cannot be left behind: competition has changed the environment in which they operate, changing customer behaviors and expectations, with the latter demanding reliable, flexible, transparent, and cost-effective transport services.
At the same time, the industry faces multiple challenges. Among other things, it must take into account, in its strategy, the issue of reducing environmental impact, ensuring efficient and sustainable operations, increasing short-term and long-term competitiveness, and complying with stricter regulatory requirements.
An even greater “advocate” of Maritime 4.0 is the increased digital “interconnection” of ports, ships, and the entire industry, the creation of autonomous ships, and the development of alternative fuels.
The new business environment requires the shipping industry to shift from a traditional business model, to one that is focused on delivering value to customers.
With the increasing need of global supply chains for a seamless flow of goods and services – something that has been also made apparent during the pandemic – digital transformation and digital business are key success factors for shipping companies, today and in the future!