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Live From Sea Asia 2017

No stopping the digital revolution in shipping

No stopping the digital revolution in shipping

Big changes are coming in shipping and they are being driven by technological advances as well as changes in the mindset as the centre of gravity of shipping moves to Asia.

Speakers on the Sea Asia panel on The Fourth Industrial Revolution all agreed that the digital revolution will play a major role in the future of shipping as the industry responds to market demands.

Inmarsat senior vp for safety and security Peter Broadhurst conceded that while the old European-dominated model of shipping had been very conservative in the adoption of new technology, this is changing as more Asian ship owners rise to prominence. “There are lots of people trying to fuel that innovation… there is a better world for shipping out there but it will mean change and that means the more conservative attitudes have to fall away,” Broadhurst said.

“Shipping is going to face a big change and it will be disruptive,” said Rolls-Royce Marine vp for innovation, engineering and technology Oskar Levander.

He conceded that while it might be threatening for some, it would open up a lot of opportunities and all this would be driven by digitalisation. “It will change the way we operate the ships, manage them and the hardware and the business mindsets,” Levander said.

“The way we operate ships will be more about integrating the ships into the total logistics chain,” he said, adding that ships cannot be treated as individual units out at sea anymore but must be seen as part of a bigger process as they become integrated into the bigger logistics supply chain. “We need to think of optimising the ship in this way rather than currently just cutting costs,” he said, predicting that cargo owners will step in and take more control.

While PSA International group technology head Oh Bee Lock pointed out how the port operator is tooling up to meet the needs of a hyper-connected world with its new port systems, he did concede that not all ship operators will be as keen to be involved. “There are different people with different views about how technology will infiltrate this space but only time will tell,” Oh said.

Meanwhile addressing the issue that is always at the back of many minds when talking about greater use of technology, Microsoft Asia chief cybersecurity adviser Michael Montoya said contrary to popular concern, automation can actually help improve cybersecurity. “People cause most of our issues in operations,” he said, pointing out that about 80% of problems in typical operations centres are caused by human error.

Taking an example from data centres, Montoya said that as more processes are automated, not only are errors reduced but efficiency also has gone up with each person being able to handle much more work at a higher accuracy level.

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