Much of the world’s trade and economy depends on sea travel and shipping. An estimated 80% of the world’s goods are carried by ships, making the maritime industry an essential pillar of global markets. There are about 54.7 thousand container ships worldwide with a total capacity of 275m dwt transversing the seas to reach over 800 ports. Recently, about 11 billion tons of cargo are shipped per year, an increase of 0.1 billion metric tons since 1980, demonstrating the immense growth of global trade. It is projected that by 2028, the size of the global shipping market will be about $16bn. Transport of oil, raw metals, grains and other essential items are essential to the manufacturing industry and would be difficult or almost impossible through other routes of transportation. Hence, sea transport helps to preserve the growth of cities and population by making important products available for use.
In order to maintain shipping, several challenges of the maritime industry must be addressed and corrected. One of these includes rising costs due to fuel prices and adverse market conditions. This will result eventually in reduced competition in the market and drive up the cost of operations and products. In addition to this, numerous security risks and sea pirates pose a danger and about $16bn a year is lost to pirate attacks. These have especially increased in Southeast Asia. Environmental regulations which have been announced in recent times may also prove difficult for companies to achieve and could cause further damage to the climate challenges across the globe.
Several measures have been considered to eliminate these challenges and improve the conditions for optimum functioning of the industry. AI solutions especially have great potential to revolutionize the industry and encourage great strides in shipping. Applications include areas such as digital transformation, use of Automatic Identification System, energy efficiency and predictive analytics. These all require interactions between one another for proper functioning.
Internet of Vessels: Digitization uses electronic navigation to enhance communication between vessels as well as operators on shore. This can be necessary for purposes of collecting directions, ensuring availability of docking areas as well as in emergency situations. The concept of an Internet of Vessels has been proposed to integrate all information into a single platform for ease of communication.
Cargo Unloading: Automated machinery at ports can contribute significantly to speeding up loading and unloading of cargo. This also makes the process less vulnerable to human errors. It has been suggested that the navigation of ships can also be supported by control systems.
Reducing Global Warming: Although sea travel currently contributes less to carbon emissions than other forms of transport, it is expected that with growing demand, the environmental impact of shipping will increase. To control this, efficient fuel consumption is important. Supply chains can also be modified to encourage the use of routes which guarantee less fuel consumption to avoid pollution.
Predictive Analytics: Predictive Analytics can be applied in organizing shipping schedules. Data such as the estimated duration of the trip and travel routes can help companies to determine the most efficient schedules to be used in shipping. ML can then take into account weather changes and other unexpected events that can affect shipping routes and make provisions for such outcomes.
Container Storage: Accurate placement of containers is necessary to manage available space and also ensure good balancing of vessels. Robotics can be employed in such arrangements and can also identify and correct improper placement of containers.
Predictive Maintenance: Defects in machinery can be quickly detected and fixed before they worsen using predictive maintenance. This will not only reduce costs in the long run but also ensure safety in the industry
Dynamic Pricing: Dynamic pricing algorithms can be introduced to consider factors such as delays, fuel prices, peaks in demands and other factors. Using this, prices can be updated more frequently to reflect changes in market conditions and prevent losses.
Market Analysis: Analysis of market trends with AI algorithms can predict changes in demand and enable companies to plan ahead to accommodate these fluctuations. This will help to avoid errors that could significantly impact profits.
Introducing AI will significantly benefit various stakeholders in the maritime industry. While it ensures cost effectiveness for companies, it will also reduce the risk of errors and streamline the operations at port. In addition to these, AI carries benefits for customers with better pricing methods and all of this can be done while reducing adverse impacts on the environment. There is much proof that AI will be a welcome addition to sea transportation and has the potential to greatly improve global trade.