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Lighthouse - July, 2018.

MARITIME INDUSTRY IN THE DECADE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES – SINGAPORE’S JOURNEY TOWARDS DIGITALIZATION IN 2018

The rapidly developing digital technologies are embarking on a significant transformation of the Shipping Industry across the globe. The implementation of Digitalization, the innovative cyber security systems and technological solutions, autonomous mobility and artificial intelligence has helped in transforming the developments in the shipping industry. With the inputs of accurate, updated and secure data insights, delivered on time, the achievement of a more strategic and cost effective productivity along with maximum performance is possible. The ability to centralize the decentralized digital transformation on a digital platform creates a great potential for organizing markets efficiently. The exchange data and digital platforms enables the companies to have a control of and also organize the logistic chains delivered on time, by reducing the waiting period and predicting the arriving time of the vessels accurately, thus opening up the possibility of unmanned ships in future.

The world’s first crewless cargo ship will be delivered in 2018 under the name and fame of Yara Birkeland and the operations is assumed to commence in 2020. These Unmanned Ships are also referred to as “Unmanned Sea Surface Crafts” and these vessels are either remote controlled by shore- based controllers/officers, or controlled completely by complex algorithms with no human existence or a combination of the above mentioned two. The challenges that will be faced by these are guidelines and legal regulations to be followed in case of any violations, or maritime incidents involving any damage to the vessel, the cargo, human life, environment and property. The existing legal framework is that of the UNCLOS82 regulations by the International Maritime Organization. The present legal system and maritime regulations are designed for manned vessels so this will make it a difficult task for the legislators and jurists to decide upon the best and effective legal resolution in case of a violation or dispute. Therefore many countries are already considering amendments or integrations in the existing regulations and also drafting of fresh shipping guidelines and laws.
Digitalization has brought in many challenges as well as opportunities. According to the IMO over 90% of the world’s trade is carried out by sea as this is the most cost-effective way to move goods and raw materials across the world. One of the important factors is that it reduces cost and increases efficiency. The data inputs and interconnected technologies are emerging to create a revolution in the maritime industry. Systems like Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) are used to track the movement of the vehicles cargo and people, and ensure timely delivery of cargo. GPS navigation system, automated electronic data exchange from ship to ship and ship to shore increases the efficiency, safety and accuracy in navigation and communications.
There are many challenges to overcome, and one of them is that of marine liability. The Question of liability is considered to be more complex as the vessel travel through different national waters and of different jurisdictions. The insurance industry will also face similar challenges in resolving disputes and also the difficulty to analyze the resources to risk management as well as to understand loss occurred. Thus, it becomes a necessity to ensure maximum data security for preventing a risk or loss. Cyber attacks on unmanned ships also can be problematic as container vessels reliant on digital navigation systems could be potentially manipulated and a small failure in a system can result in dangerous consequences in an interconnected digital environment. The networking of vessels and ports is an enormous opportunity for shipping. This also helps in reducing the ongoing over capacity paired with a relatively soft global demand, and the existing pressure on the rates and profit margins of the industry.

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