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The winds of technology are coming in and the shipping industry is sailing down unchartered territories of digitalization. The time coming ahead is going to bring us some of the greatest innovations that will effectively change the shipping industry for good. Some of the technological progressions are already used for shipping, including, Big data, AI, ECDIS, etc. An industry that has always followed traditional ways is now embracing digitalization to make the trade better, simpler, and profitable.
The resources of Digitalization and automation have enabled autonomous shipping to take place which is a major breakthrough in the world of seafaring. Although the law doesn’t support autonomous or unnamed ships to sail on international waters, things are changing slowly. Since 2017, shipping regulators are granting permissions for autonomous shipping across the world considering the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) aspect. And the evolution has autonomous shipping, without any crew of captains already taking place.
Digitalization is spreading across the industry inching us towards new possibilities. Technologies like Big Data, blockchain, smart ports, AI and IoT are transforming the shipping world and the interesting thing is that this is just the beginning. There is a big scope for innovations that can bring efficiency, cost-cutting, ease, automation reliability to maritime operations.
And even with multiple gates of opportunities, there are a few barricades that slow it down. Here are some of the challenges faced by the maritime industry to adapt with digitalization –
1. Trust of people:
Generations of seafarers who were used to traditional ways of sailing throughout their lives, it’s not surprising that they will find it difficult to trust the new technology. There can be worries of safety in information-sharing systems, trusting to make the shift of going autonomous, or of the capital involved in the operations getting appropriately utilized. Despite these worries, seafarers are making the mind-shift and accepting digitalization. Many of the vessels and ports have made digitalization a part of their day-to-day routines.
2. Crew training:
The process of changing perspectives the crew & re-educating them with the new ways is a challenge that most of the shipping industries face. Handling new responsibilities, operating new systems, working in a new structure, this reassigning to jobs and training could create hindrances to make the shift. But with proper motivation and effective training programs, there will soon come a time when the crew demand advanced training sessions for bringing efficiency and sophistication to the trade.
3. Possibility of cyber threats:
With the big shift happening, all the systems, navigation, communication systems, propulsion systems would be digitalized for easy monitoring, remote access and better performance. But this involves an inevitable cyber threat of an attacker gaining unauthorized access & sabotaging the on-going operations. Cybersecurity threats are another challenge that might be creating hindrances for the shipping industry to embrace digitalization in a full-fledged way.
Despite all the challenges and concerns, technological and digital developments are making their way swiftly throughout the shipping industry. And with more research, testing and training programs, the shipping industry will gain new heights, taking us from unchartered waters of adapting with technology towards the shore of commercial success.