5 ways data automation keeps the maritime industry afloat
Even as recently as 2018, the maritime industry was thought to be one of the more traditional industries, relying more on intuition than data. But times are changing. Maritime trade currently makes up around four-fifths of the world trade (80%). That’s a lot of data, which - when harnessed effectively - can be used to improve maritime safety, increase operational efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, and minimize cost.
And of course, as data grows, so too must automation solutions keep evolving. Let’s take a look at some of the latest applications for data automation in the industry.
1. Cutting-edge ship-building technology
By analyzing data from the sensors on both existing and decommissioned vessels - for instance those damaged during a voyage - engineering teams can make continual improvements to their designs and improve shipbuilding best practices to create safer, more innovative ships of the future.
2. An era of autonomous ships
Much like driverless cars, data automation combined with AI is forging a path for a new era of autonomous shipping, which will result in a much lower error rate than human-operated vessels. However, autonomous ships will still require human input from land to ensure bidirectional, accurate and scalable communication between the vessel and the crew - which will also be driven by data automation.
Projects such as the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), led by Rolls-Royce, represent a huge advancement for the industry. In fact, autonomous shipping will likely be “as disruptive as the smartphone” and will “revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations”.
3. Vessel monitoring via AIS
The advent of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) is perhaps one of the most significant data automation milestones in the shipping industry to date. It is an automated tracking system used by individual ships and also Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) to supplement marine radar. The system displays other vessels within a certain radius, using transponders that operate within the specific VHF mobile maritime band.
Today, however, AIS has a wide range of applications including search and rescue missions, vessel route planning and ETA predictions, meteorological monitoring, and marine research.
4. Protecting against cyber threats
Just as landborne businesses increasingly find they need to protect themselves from cyber attacks, maritime IT and telecommunications systems are particularly susceptible to such attacks. In fact, according to one cyber security firm, more than 90% of the largest container lines are vulnerable to hackers, which, ultimately, could lead to major disruptions in food and energy supplies.
5. Rig data analysis
Of course, data automation isn’t just helping moving entities in our waters. Oil rigs also play an important role in the maritime industry and generate large volumes of daily data that needs to be processed using automation. A common problem is that there is a high propensity for unplanned downtime during periods of maintenance due to equipment failures. Most modern rigs are fully equipped with smart devices, meaning rig managers can analyze the data, with the help of automation software, to detect any damage to equipment over time. They can then forecast equipment failure in advance of it becoming a problem, therefore significantly minimizing downtime, accidents and maintenance costs.
Data automation can help maritime companies by enabling them to make quicker, smarter decisions that not only give them a competitive edge, but help make the industry safer.