Nothing artificial about it

Blockchain, connected ships, advanced analytics… digital trends that are set to reshape the container shipping industry.  

 

Much like other industries making a shift towards digitalisation, shipping industry is joining the wagon too. Not only will it help the industry to look through different doors, but also strengthen its relationship with end customers. However, the only thing that can cause the industry to break down is the fear of challenges. But, in order to tackle the problems and find their solutions, it is crucial to take up an approach that leads to digitalisation and integrating new technologies. The digital trends that can transform container shipping are underway, changing the industry from within.

Cryptic Code
Currently, the way shipping industry carry out transactions is crucial to the business. Most of the transactions go through various processes and is time consuming. It involves piles of papers (read sales contracts, party agreements, bills of lading, port documents and other documents related to cargo and vessels). Not just this, it also has to pass through various parties making the procedure lengthy, and there always is a high possibility that vessels arrive even before the bills of lading. In order to avoid this, Blockchain can come in handy. It will simplify things for sure. Blockchain is an open-source, peer-to-peer software, where all the transactions are managed collectively by the network. And for the management, cryptographically secured chain of blocks is used to record the transactions. All the transactions under this are only approved after various confirmations that are made within the network. The entire system is secured that does not allow user interface and hence completely useful. One of the most significant aspects within the Blockchain is the usage of ‘smart contracts.’ Under this, contracts between both the parties run in the form of a computer programme and this way, any of the party could only negotiate the terms with the usage of Blockchain network. It makes sure to provide the parties with transparency, accuracy, quick processing time, cost saving, and with increased security.

Connected Ships
Right from WiFi to 5G, we see that each day there has been a progress in the communications industry. With this, even in the shipping industry, communications technology will transform the way we have been looking at it. The connected ship will enable the operators to access HD and 3D videos on-board and will get away with the need of physical presence. Features like automated identification system, voyage data recording, and vessel traffic system will enable the smooth functioning. 

E-Platforms
The application of E-Platforms to the container shipping industry will eliminate a considerable amount of manual work which will save time, money and efforts. E-Platforms will bring both effectiveness and efficiency in the operations of the container shipping industry and also help it to flourish commercially. One of the Startups, Flexport has invested $ 2.997 billion in short span of five years (2012-2017) in E-Platforms. The key tools of E-Platforms for Shipping Industry are:
Online Booking: E-Platforms will save a lot of physical effort and human resource as it will facilitate the consumers to book a slot in a container or make an enquiry regarding it, all by just a click on their computer or mobile phone. Costumer Personalisation: E-Platforms will also enhance the consumer experience as the whole process of booking would function online and therefore, it will save a lot of consumer’s time and also give them the power to keep an eye on each and every step of the shipping advancement process. Online Cargo Management: In the presence of E-Platforms, both the shipping company and consumer will be able to manage the cargo throughout the shipping process. As every information and activity will be updated and tracked online, it would make acknowledging and communication part much more effective.
Autonomous Vessels
You might wonder if we are talking about something that is not possible at least at the moment but let us clear the air. Automated ships are the next generation vessels and they are already here and will not only stay but evolve with time. These vessels do not have any crew members onboard and their controlling and monitoring is fully taken care of from a shore operating centre by the means of detectors, sensors, high resolution cameras and advanced satellite communication system. These vessels will not only bring a technological revolution, but will also make sure that shipping industry is benefitted from it. They will offer low operating costs. In shipping, operating cost (crew members living expenses, safety etc.) are pretty high. With automated vessels getting in, these costs will be saved. Also, these vessels will generate higher revenue. How, you ask? The revenue from the cargos clearly depend on the amount of quantity it can hold up, and more spaces could be utilised if the vessels are crew-free, thus increasing the vessel’s profitability by accommodating more commodity. Their increased capacity would make the vessels lighter and hence lowering the vessel’s voyage expenses. 

Fibre Within

With the shipping industry facing several hurdles, one of the key aspects to help it by accelerating the productivity along with profitability will be Internet of Things (IoT). It is imperative that there is access to real-time data and efficiency in operations and this is where IoT solutions come into the picture. It can help enterprises connected devices across centralised network and can also help them gain real-time visibility. 

With IoT, one can expect profitability and viability. It helps in securing end-to-end visibility that ensures timely decisions and detects issues at a quick pace. With the usage of radio frequency identification, most of the logistics companies are receiving accuracy and there is reduction in labour costs too. It also allows efficiency by providing real-time data through the supply chains. 

Also, the operations can be mostly handled by machine-to-machine without involving humans, making it more error-free. With the help of IoT enabled mobile devices, it is easier for companies to track their data, equipment and vehicles. It is also easier to share the data over cloud that ensures right products are in place at the right time. 

Advanced Analytics

Advanced Analytics is one of the most effective and efficient trends when it comes to planning and operation in container shipping industry. For both, shipping companies and consumers, advance analytics can play a significant role in planning for future consignments and shipments. In Advanced Analytics, a company can calculate and study available data, and prepare itself for upcoming consignments by keeping all the possible predicted outcomes in mind. 
Some of the best features of Advanced Analytics are:
Network Optimisation: Adoption of Advanced Analytics will lead to effective and efficient networking in the industry. Advanced Analytics also helps in smoothening of network functioning, as it helps the system to get adjusted according to future circumstances and conditions which have been predicted by the study of outcomes calculated from the data. 
Demand Forecasting: With the help of Advanced Analytics, the shipping industry can forecast the demand for service in particular period of the year. Advanced Analytics of available data also helps to understand the nature and intensity of the demand.
Dynamic Pricing: The container shipping industry can increase a significant amount of profit when it comes to adjusting the price through Advanced Analytics. The industry would be able to set the price for a particular time-period or place in respective to price-demand curve with the help of using historical data. Empty Container repositioning: Advanced Analytics will positively increase the utility of a container during its shipment. With the help of the data and forecast, the shipping industry would be able to track the container to its destination and then keeping it intact for the next consignment by relocating it. Lead Generation: Advanced Analytics would play a key role in Lead Generation. The industry would be able to filter and identify the potential costumers for the business on the grounds of data extracted from Advanced Analytics.

Cyber Security
Once all the digital trends that help in transforming container shipping come to a place, consumers would be sharing a large number of their personalised data on the system. Therefore, the industry would be fully liable for the protection of the data from cyber theft. With cyber security in place, the companies can rest assure that their data such as bookings, consignment specifications and bank details will not be shared with any other party without their consent, and that date will be safe. In a nutshell, it will help secure automated operations.

Managing Editor

Nidhi Raj Singh is the Managing Editor of L'Officiel India. You can find her hidden behind a book when she is not writing or taking photos.