If there is one thing that is certain for 2018, it is that the rapid pace of change in our industry – particularly in the realm of technology – will only continue to rise. In 2018, the industry will continue exploring the application of new technologies and gear up their organizations for digitalization of container shipping.
- Blockchain is a Solution Looking for a Problem – There is lot that can be done to digitize the paper-based information flow in shipping with online network collaboration systems, however the application of blockchain seems like a solution looking for a problem. Although blockchain does provide security of transactions a lot of the security needed in the shipping industry can be easily handled by simple encryption and RBAC.
- Shipping Sets New Metrics with Automation & Autonomous Supply Chain – A fully automated terminal at 30mph will be much more cost efficient than a manual terminal at 40mph. In 2018, we will also see experimental sailing of fully autonomous container vessels (starting with small 50-100 container vessels). Projecting out a few decades, it is possible to see a fully autonomous transport chain that could extend from robots filling a container, to unloading by automated quay cranes, and then finally being loaded on to autonomous trucks and trains for its destination.
- Proliferation of Drone Technology – Already the various branches of military are experimenting with using drones for transporting containers so on a smaller scale, the use of drones on a vessel instead of manual labor, is not a far reach.
- Increase of IoT/Sensors in Move to Digitalization – Using IoT and sensors, combined with business intelligence and machine learning, data can and will be mined to improve cargo handling, remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and other intelligent services and solutions.
- Realizing the Promise of Machine learning – Whether it is automation, autonomous supply chain, forecasting models, stowage planning, yard planning, optimizing port operations, machine learning will play an important role in the future of ocean shipping. With multiple open source machine learning frameworks readily available for use, the key will be to look for solutions that will help make global trade smarter, safer, and more sustainable for everyone.