AI & Machine Learning are taking over the shipping industry
AI & Machine Learning are taking over the shipping industry

Everyone in the ICT world agrees: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are techniques to keep an eye on. By AI we mean techniques in which machines can carry out actions that we deem to be ‘smart’. We give machines access to data so they can learn. These techniques enable algorithms to independently analyse huge amounts of data. AI and Machine Learning are even able to discover patterns in data and on that basis make predictions that people are not capable of. Human action can be strengthened or automated. A lot of attention will be paid this year to the possibilities to apply AI in applications and tools, also called AI-driven development.

What does AI/Machine Learning mean to the maritime world

Nowadays, shipping companies have figured out that there are multiple benefits of investing in a better bandwidth and faster connectivity for their ships, which has recent years led to the increasement and intensification of contract renewals and new VSAT installations (Very Small Aperture Terminal, which is technology that is commonly referred to as a private earth station. The earth station is designed to transmit and receive data signals via a satellite signal).

Most ships have become distant offices at sea, which offer reliable internet access, virtual networks, email and much more. The increase in digital communication technology will continue to grow upcoming years. However, this is also the time to think of long-term growth. It is time to invest in online applications that can improve shipping operations through the increasement in VSAT bandwidth.

Since mainstream services as Ka-band and Ku-band came online, there have been an exponential growth in instalments of VSAT on ships, with over 25,000 users. As more ships are connected to internet, there will be a higher number of performance and condition data available to compute the process. That much data, is too much for humans to comprehend.

There is where AI comes into the equation. Computers are able to process date quicker than people ever can. The high intelligence of algorithms in machine learning will create a great advantage for shipowners. The higher the investments in AI, the bigger the reward of its big data analytics capabilities. The algorithms of the machine learning systems are capable of chuning through heterogeneous data points, for the whole of the ship’s history of operations. Which will help to analyze key relationships between variables, in order to predict future outcomes.

Key advantages

  • Logistics and AI offer faster delivery, especially if it comes to retail shipping. As retailers are using similar technology to send products by ship from the factories to the distribution centres, fast-tracking the process. Which result in lower costs and faster shipment.
  • AI contributes to make accurate predictions on arrival of container shipments.
  • AI can spot risks and trends in ports and shipping lanes.
  • Fuel consumptions and maintenance costs can be reduced by the AI-based application SailRouter.
  • Errors, inefficiencies, and duplications can be refined through the use of analyzing historical shipping data, by considering factors like weather patterns and busy or slow shipping seasons.

The online testimonials of companies making use of AI/machine learning technology, are popping up like mushrooms. Recently, Stena Lines – one of the world’s biggest ferry operator – has used AI for the implementation of their sustainability strategy. AI has contributed on the reduction of (single use) plastic on board, decreased crew and passenger accidents, saved the use of fuels and battery power propulsion etc. The port of Rotterdam makes use of AI in order to enable the arrival times of ships and inland ports to be predicted earlier and with increased precision.

To conclude, machine learning is here to stay! So better keep an eye on the future technology of the maritime industry.

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