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Digital game changer for maritime industry

January 12, 2019

Five industry experts share their views on what maritime sector players need to do to navigate the new digital seascape

• KD Adamson, Futurist & Chief Executive Officer, Futurenautics Group, UK
• Mohit Batra, Regional Director – Commercial Shipping, Eniram Singapore
• Morten Lind-Olsen, Chief Executive Officer, Dualog, Norway
• Kenneth Lim, Chief Technology Officer, Maritime Port Authority, Singapore
• Michael Montoya, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Enterprise Cybersecurity Group, Singapore, Microsoft
Moderator: Francis Kan, The Business Times
The Business Times: What are the key technologies impacting the maritime industry today?
KD Adamson: Technologies made up of social, mobile, analytics and cloud together with the Internet of Things (IoT) are supporting something called the Intelligent Digital Mesh (IDM).

This is an exponentially growing collection of endpoints which could be devices, people or assets to which you have a real-time digital connection and which can therefore transmit and receive data. Access to the IDM is of course dependent upon enterprise-grade connectivity which has traditionally been expensive ship-to-shore, but those costs are now falling. As a result, shipping is in a position to begin leveraging the IDM. In terms of emerging technologies, the impact of the blockchain – a digital distributed ledger – could be substantial across trade and logistics, as will advances in artificial intelligence.

Mohit Batra: The shipping industry has not been an early adopter of modern technology, but we are now witnessing fast-paced adoption. Fuel saving and costs are the key areas of focus when owners invest in new technologies. Remote access, performance monitoring, data analytics, forecasting and condition-based maintenance are significantly improving operations and ship management. A strong engagement and interest from top management to move ahead with the selected technology and an appropriate timeline to implement the solution will also be key to success in this digital era.

Morten Lind-Olsen: Due to bandwidth limitations in satellite technology, there has traditionally not been too much communication and electronic interactions between sailing ships and the terrestrial world. This is now changing rapidly as new technologies allow more bandwidth at sea over satellites. We see a trend where machine data and Internet of Things technologies are being used to integrate ships into shore networks.
Kenneth Lim: The technologies impacting the maritime sector are no different from what we see impacting all other sectors in the economy. These include greater use of automation, IoT, robotics, drones and of course, intelligent systems and digitalisation. Ports from Shanghai, Rotterdam, Hamburg to Singapore are in various stages of automation and digitalisation. Vessels too are now outfitted with more intelligent systems that monitor various operating parameters and can remotely communicate with shore-based vessel monitoring centres.

Michael Montoya: As the digital footprint expands, we will see the threat landscape become more complex with the maritime industry taking more attention from threat actors. All threat actors will see this as an opportunity as maritime has critical infrastructure dependencies, making it attractive for cyberterrorists and nation-states.

BT: How should industry players deal with the disruption brought about by these technologies?

KD Adamson: The trick is to be part of the disruption, and in order to do that, it’s key to recognise that this isn’t a technology wave but a business transformation wave. Each company needs to have a digital vision built around the value they’ll bring in the new digital economy. For many, that digital vision will be very different from the status quo, which is what makes digital transformation so hard. Leaders have to continue meeting their quarterly targets while also preparing the organisation for a future which is going to be almost unrecognisable.

Mohit Batra: Governments and companies are encouraging constructive collaboration among the industry players and are already taking steps to develop capabilities to succeed in digitalisation – for example, MPA’s enhanced Maritime Cluster Fund which provides co-funding for companies that want to utilise technology to optimise their business processes.
Technology should not be used as an excuse to reduce manpower but to complement and improve efficiency.

Morten Lind-Olsen: Technological developments are rapidly opening up new opportunities for the industry. Dualog’s business purpose is to bring ship and shore closer, and we experience that new technologies are introduced because of more available bandwidth, and this enables the shipping companies to integrate their ships to the shore environment at a much larger extent.

BT: How can the companies use new digital tools to help them improve their performance?

KD Adamson: The scope for improved efficiencies and productivity in shipping and maritime is enormous. Starting with the biggest physical assets, having vessels connected in real-time enables monitoring, analysis and communication of information which help safety and reliability. There are already many on the maritime supply side creating platforms to enable ship operators to gain unprecedented visibility into their operations and to turn that insight into actionable intelligence. But the opportunity is far wider than that. Data and information can help to improve human-machine interfaces, build and motivate teams, and offer more flexible and more interesting roles that will attract the brightest and best into the industry.
Mohit Batra: With the availability of high-quality data and analysis in almost real-time, the industry is moving in a degree of intelligence from information to insight to be able to adopt a more predictive approach. Advanced software and simulation capabilities are resulting in more complex systems being controlled by software. Eniram has launched the next version of its digital solution Skylight, where apps designed for smart phones, tablets and watches are included for automatic notification for any variances to speed or ETA (estimated time of arrival).

SOURCE: The Business Times