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Top Technologies in Shipping & Logistics

Sep 08, 2022
  •  The use of Smart Shipping technology enables ships to reduce their fuel consumption and operating costs, making their voyages more environmentally friendly. 

  • Blockchain technology in shipping can save costs by minimizing the need for physical documentation altogether, allowing for more streamlined document coordination.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) is used to eliminate the need for paper cargo lists and load instructions, speeding up the loading procedure for transport trucks.

  • The incorporation of IoT technology into the trucking industry has been shown to boost both productivity and profitability by facilitating easier freight tracking and management.

  • Robots serve a wide range of functions in the shipping sector, from routine maintenance and cleaning to the operation of completely autonomous vehicles.

Technology has revolutionized how we've always done things, bringing about profound changes in every facet of our daily lives. 

Even the shipping industry that is traditionally known to be slow to change, has now embraced modernization on all fronts.Today, technologies such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning and internet of things (IoT) are being utilized to create a safer, more efficient and more productive environment to carry out export and import trade.

Unfamiliar with the industry? Check out the ultimate guide to shipping & logistics now (exclusive to Parcel Monitor members).

More than half of respondents to a survey conducted by PwC agreed that a lack of digital culture and training is the largest difficulty confronting transportation and logistics firms. These findings contribute to the theory that, in today's rapidly changing, technology-driven society, only the adaptable will thrive. Keeping this in mind, we have put together a list of top technology trends in shipping and logistics for businesses to take note of. Let’s take a look!  

Smart Ships

The term “Smart Shipping” describes the “largely autonomous operation of inland vessels or seagoing ships”. It involves not only the technologies on board the ship, but also planning ports and waterways, so that the ship can operate autonomously or direct the crew based on data gathered by sensors. As a result of these revolutionary technological advancements, the transportation industry will never be the same. For starters, navigation and information exchange aids incorporated by Smart Shipping technology have improved the efficiency, safety, and longevity in the transportation business. 

Smart Shipping can also make the maritime industry more appealing by allowing vessels to sail more efficiently, increasing competition in the market. For instance, high-tech digital technologies are able to aid crew members in their work and even take over some responsibilities if they are not being properly performed. By changing their speed and getting more precise navigational information, vessels can make more efficient use of available canal space. Inland shipping becomes more competitive concerning road and rail transport due to lower costs thanks to increased efficiency.

While underway, a vessel's captain can rely on advanced warning and navigation systems to help and even take over some of the ship's operations. As a result, activities on board and along the waterway may be carried out with more ease and security. Using Smart Shipping, issues caused by human errors may be minimized.

Last but not least, the use of Smart Shipping technology enables ships to reduce their fuel consumption and operating costs, making their voyages more environmentally friendly. To be more specific, the system can consider the availability of mooring space in harbors and port terminals, and synchronize the navigation plan with the opening and shutting periods of locks and bridges. When a ship has more accurate readings of its surrounding environment (depth, current, and wind), it may adjust its speed to conserve fuel.

Blockchain Technology

Despite blockchain's popularity in the context of digital currencies, its usefulness extends well beyond that sector. Many sectors, including shipping and logistics, are exploring the possibility of using it to store, move, and manage data securely. 

A crypto heatmap, for instance, can be used by some of them to monitor developments. By swiftly disclosing any attempted fraud, it will boost security and promote greater openness in audits. Even the shipping industry is turning to technology to streamline operations and connect its supply chain's many links. When it comes to the security of digital payments, blockchain technology may also play a pivotal role by facilitating more trust and Smart contract enablement.

The use of smart contracts on the blockchain is another possibility for the logistics industry. Distributors of goods may now streamline order fulfillment and procurement processes, cut down on bureaucracy, minimize the potentially harmful impact of humans, and boost supply chain efficiency and visibility thanks to these tools. 

Furthermore, a blockchain-based solution can save costs by minimizing the need for physical documentation altogether, allowing for more streamlined document coordination. Costs associated with processing and administration already account for about 20 percent of the total cost of transportation, thus the savings from using smart contracts can be remarkable.

Augmented Reality (AR)

The success of every logistics company is determined by how well it meets the needs of its customers through reliable and prompt delivery. Therefore, successful participants in the logistics business require a solid digital infrastructure, including Augmented Reality (AR), to achieve their goals. 

AR technology enhances a user's experience by superimposing digitally created data onto a physical setting or object. There are countless different ways in which data may be presented. The current workflow of your shipping organization may be easily incorporated with AR. Parcel processing and capacity utilization both stand to benefit from this connection.

Apart from presenting information, AR also offers a novel user interface that improves people's ability to engage with their surroundings. Successful pickups are facilitated by the use of AR. Checking the load's completeness is easy with the help of an AR device. 

Furthermore, scanning the cargo with an AR device can also reveal any problems and help avoid mistakes. This tool is used to eliminate the need for paper cargo lists and load instructions, speeding up the loading procedure for transport trucks. To better inform the driver of the cargo vehicle, businesses can deploy AR driver aid software. By monitoring the assembly process with sophisticated image recognition capabilities, AR devices guarantee that logistics providers meet-high assembly standards.

Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining momentum and expanding into new areas. And logistics is no different; the worldwide scope of these activities necessitates the application of appropriate solutions. The growth of the IoT correlates to the rise of numerous interconnections among commodities, cars, packaging, and network couriers. More data means better risk assessment, traffic prediction, precise cargo management, and remote monitoring of essential assets. 

In addition to boosting efficiency and facilitating easier freight tracking and management, utilizing real-time big data analytics will provide your business with a competitive edge. If combined with blockchain technology, IoT might enable full visibility of the shipments at all times. The incorporation of IoT technology into the trucking industry has been shown to boost both productivity and profitability.

The transportation and logistics sector, which is responsible for 30% of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion and 7% of total world emissions, can save a substantial amount of money and minimize its carbon footprint by fully using IoT. 

What’s more, the IoT allows for the development of innovative fleet management systems, which boost efficiency and improve customer service. Legislation and consumer demand are driving the widespread use of IoT, which will lower the total cost of ownership and improve industry connectivity. The use of IoT technologies will also increase safety and reduce the risk of theft, piracy, vessel damage, and disruptions in refrigeration.

Robotics & Drones

There has been a dramatic shift in the engines of economic and social progress, with a plethora of internet services, gadgets, software, and, of course, robots playing a key role. Technology advancements in robots are penetrating practically every business, including the marine sector. 

Robots serve a wide range of functions in the shipping sector, from routine maintenance and cleaning to the operation of completely autonomous vehicles. A completely robotic ship is capable of autonomous travel and can dispatch a fleet of smaller drone boats and submarines to complete a variety of functions.

These robots can resist temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius and can execute activities like manipulating valves, gathering and hauling fire hoses, looking for survivors, and more should a fire break out on a ship. 

The SAFFiR Firefighter Robot, for instance, was created by the Naval Research Laboratory in conjunction with the Virginia Institute of Technology and other US colleges to detect and put out fires on ships while operating in tandem with human firefighters. The robot is equipped with cutting-edge multimodal sensor technology for navigation, enabling it to avoid collisions and maintain its vertical orientation despite the motion and sway of the ocean. Additionally, it comes with a camera and a gas sensor as part of its sensor package and can respond to gestures and directions. It uses an infrared and ultraviolet camera to peer through the haze and identify the source of the excessive heat. 

After all, one of the main goals of robots is to carry out tasks that are considered too dangerous for humans, and the SAFFiR Firefighter Robot does just that.

The Future of Shipping & Logistics

It is almost impossible to nail down solid predictions for a sector as volatile as shipping & logistics. That being said, the industry will continue to be influenced by shifting trends and technological advancements in supply chain management regardless of the circumstances.

Today, we are already seeing a lot of change in the way things are done, thanks to innovations such as robotics, smart shipping and AR. These technologies are helping to automate processes, making them more efficient and secure. We truly cannot wait to see what more they can do for us!

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