At sunset, logistics and transportation of a container cargo ship and a cargo plane in a shipyard with a working crane bridge.

8 Technology Trends Transforming the Maritime Industry

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Technology is in almost every sphere of human’s lives. Is present also in the shipping industry, especially with a higher level of autonomy. The smart ship and autonomous technologies are examples of developments used in the modern marine sector.

Improvements in shipbuilding (megaships), advanced materials, smart shipping, propulsion, robotics, big data and sensors are making the work on the Earth’s waters easier. Companies and ship engineers should be aware of these technologies to improve their workforce.

With the tech progression, the marine sector can be safer for the environment and still determine the global market’s escalation.

In the paragraphs below, there are described some of the technology trends that improve shipping companies. To transform ocean industries it is crucial to use technology. It can help with planning sea space strategy and maritime traffic management. Technology is setting up the trends and challenges in maritime management. The potential is in smart fleet operation and autonomous vessels.

To meet ambitious CO2- reduction goals, even more profound changes will be needed. A major part of the solution will be taking advantage of the growing number of technologies and operational strategies aimed at increasing ship efficiency. 

The International Council on Clean Transportation, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to end repetitive tasks and improve the quality of the shipping industry. An AI-driven sector is logistics. Artificial intelligence helps with route optimization, safety, decision-making and automation. Above all, AI is also helping with distributing goods between hundred vessels passing through ports and avoiding traffic.

McKinsey Global Survey demonstrates an almost 25% growth in the usage of AI in typical business processes year over year, with a significant increase in organisations employing AI across several areas of their business in the previous years.

2. Sensor Technology

One of the most advanced and well-developed technologies nowadays is sensor technology. Especially popular in industries connected with transportation. Sensor technology replaces many of the manual tasks, like examining equipment aboard ships. 

Smart technology concept with global logistics partnership and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane for Concept of fast or instant shipping,

Connecting all machinery to sensors helps marines and ship technicians. Using wireless communication keeps exact tabs on the functioning status of machines. In result, they can analyse the maintenance necessary at regular intervals and their total operability aboard ships.

Sensors can connect with machine learning and AI. This means they may link to remote facilities and analyse data, sending out alerts if any of the ship’s components need maintenance. Calibrated correctly sensor technology can help with ship efficiency.

3. Robotics and 3D Printing

Advanced robotics are improving many industries, among others maritime. Industrial robots are already used in the security, maintenance and inspection of vessels. They can do tasks, such as packing, delivering, inspection and even firefighting. 

Robots can also help in risky environments where a human’s life is in danger by navigating and rotating the ship. Some robotics work with sensors to identify and record all the data in the ship and analyse it. Besides robots, there are drones that help the maritime industry. They can deliver goods to vessels, help with remote inspections, security and surveillance.

3D printing has also an impact on the shipping industry as it aids in the timely availability of spare parts onboard ships. The future might bring a reduction of manpower which will be replaced by robotic automation.

4. Big Data and IoT

Data analytics check the information that comes from large operation systems such as ships and ports. It is data about container types, weight and destination. It can also analyse ship data (trim, stability, engine performance and communication).

AI robot touching virtual hologram screen showing concept of big data analytic using artificial intelligence.

Big data on ships can give results about historic container trends and ocean conditions. The ship responds to various changing weather conditions. Analysing different parameters can help with efficiency and overall performance.

The Internet of Things (IoT) also enables control of some objects even remotely. It works with a GPS and cloud-based database which stores all the data collected by devices on the ship. IoT can connect all the other devices and shipments like robots through wireless networks.

5. Autonomous Control

On land, autonomous technology is helping make decisions based on the route. The help includes detecting other cars, pedestrians, traffic signals and securing the car to remain on the road. Automation in shipping is helping to deliver products without any interference. Autonomous systems operate with high efficiency. It allows detecting materials, having advanced heat mapping and eliminating human error possibilities.

Smart technologies help vessels stay on course without requiring constant input from the captain. Thanks to the real-time route information, action can be implemented immediately in case of any issues.

6. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is present in lots of industries today. As one of the technological progressions, AR is mainly used by seafarers. But also some of the maritime training institutes started to use it. Thanks to the AR technology, marine students can experience real-life scenarios.

Visualisation of VR technology for 3D modelling and engineering. A man uses virtual reality and augmented reality technology.

AR also helps with efficient maintenance and vessel inspections. Plenty of the maintenance tasks can be done with the help of guidance software and tools which allow visualising images. There is no need for technician help.

AR is also present in the shipbuilding and design process. It simulates virtual projects and helps resolve some technical issues. It lets people imagine the creation before implementation.

7. Ship Propulsion Systems

The new ship propulsion systems not only provide better control of the ship but also help the ecosystem. The transition control of the propulsion systems to smart technology enables a device to make decisions and control the equipment with high accuracy.

Both captain and marine engineers can monitor the status of the marine diesel engines. Software shows and ensures that they always remain within the acceptable operating regions.

8. Advanced Materials

Ships have an unfavourable effect on the environment. The fuel, oil spills and waste effluents cause an increase in pollution and environmental damage. This is why investment in alternative energy management solutions is important. It can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon and sulfur. 

Hydrogen fuel cell ship diving on the calm sea.

73% believe fuel availability will strongly drive the market’s decision to adopt alternative energy management solutions. Other notable drivers included heavy fuel oil (HFO) price and the capital and/or infrastructural investment required to support alternatives.

IMarEST, Technology in shipping

Because maritime is a big concern it was crucial that we move for the green approach. For example, megaships are built from different, more sustainable materials, like fibre-reinforced plastic. It helps reduce traffic and carbon but also carry large quantities of cargo.

What is the role of technology in the maritime industry?

Considering all the trends mentioned above, they are just a few examples of how the maritime industry is influenced by technology. New technologies have a big impact on commercial shipping especially in regards to ship design and operation. Integrating smart ship development increases efficiency, research and is also a cheaper alternative for the oil.

The maritime industry is a key element for many businesses to provide goods, expand or develop the world economy. To ensure that trade services are efficient, ships and shipping companies need to focus on new technologies. 

Technology trends appearing in the shipping sector help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also provide alternatives (fuel cell boats) for fossil fuels. At the moment, they are the most common energy source used in ships. In conclusion, the main role of technologies is to provide a safe environment and help companies to develop and function better.

Sipeed Maix Amigo AI/IoT Development Platform, Seeed Studio

SIPEED Maix Amigo is a programmable AIoT development kit with AI and IoT learning capabilities. It has a built-in RISC-V dual-core 64-bit 400MHz CPU. Equipped with two cameras, TF card slot, speaker and microphone and SP-MOD interface. It has a 3.5″ 480×320 capacitive touch TFT display and 520mAh lithium battery.

EVA – Lightweight 6-Axis Industrial Robot Arm, Automata

Eva is a 6 axis industrial robot with a reach of 600mm and a payload of 1.25kg making it perfect for many tasks including pick and place, testing, inspection and machine tending. It has a toolpath speed limit: 1500 mm/s and reach of 600 mm with 1.25kg payload: 1.25 kg and ethernet and WiFi communication.

3D Printer, S5, FFF, Closed, Dual, Ultimaker

The Ultimaker S5 offers not only best-in-class technical characteristics for a desktop 3D printer, but also the performance and peace of mind that comes with using the entire 3D printing solution trusted by hundreds of thousands of professionals across the world. This 3D printer has a flow sensor, NFC material recognition and internal camera and also a large build volume.

Arduino MKR IoT Carrier Development Board

For IoT projects, the MKR IoT Carrier offers limitless possibilities. The sensors, circuits, and display are all integrated, so you can focus on programming and developing your ideas. Features: pressure sensor, inertial measurement unit, temperature and humidity sensor, ambient light, gesture and proximity sensor, capacitive touch buttons and 1.3″ 240×240 pixel TFT display.

E33 Series Vertical THT Encoder, M7, 6N, 16 Detents, 2.5Ncm, 8 PPR, IP68, Elma Electronic

For applications such as value and menu control for industrial PLCs, avionics, measurement and test equipment with volume and menu setting for transportation control and entertainment systems. Features: High quality miniature encoder with push button function, first-class catch feel with constantly high catching torque, life expectancy 200,000 revolutions. It conforms to MIL-STD-202, the keying force for push button is 6 N. 

As-I Addressing Unit, Siemens

AS-I refers to Actuator Sensor Interfaces, which is an industrial networking technology designed to enable automation systems. It’s perfect for linking devices like sensors and actuators, as well as other network components. The Siemens AS-I purpose is convenient commissioning and diagnostics of an AS-i bus system.

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