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September 10, 2021 at 12:55 PM

 

 

Digital transformation is a hot topic in shipping study and practice, and it is already affecting the operations and strategy of shipping organizations. Shipping digitalization, in particular, creates new commercial enterprises and business models that provide economic and societal value.

 

Transportation (dry and reefer) by sea is the most important part of supply chain, with a substantial impact on the gross domestic product of many countries. Global trade, according to the World Shipping Council (WSC), exceeds US$4 trillion annually. Around 6,000 marine container ships operate on the oceans and rivers of the world at any given time. There's no doubt that this industry plays a crucial role in the End-to-End (ETE) supply chain.

 

Many family-owned firms generate hundreds of millions of data points every day, but none of them are optimized for transparency, security, environmental health, or efficiency. The absolute lack of data standards creates both opportunities and problems, since even digital suppliers have to go through reams of spreadsheets to find prices. At sea, human error and tiredness are to blame for 75-96 percent of maritime accidents, just as they are in the trucking and rail sectors.

 

Recent developments in the marine freight sector provide a unique opportunity to use big data and minimize non-value added manual operations from a wide variety of stakeholders, while retaining transparency and accountability. Big data and analytics, blockchain, electrification, aided and automated operations, drones and robots, and AR/VR are the technologies most likely to disrupt the marine transportation sector during the next 10 years. Many other emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and completely autonomous ships, are still a long way off from being widely adopted.

 

There are a number of technologies that have been tried or adopted, at least in part, in the supply chain and many other industries. BHP Billiton, the world's largest iron ore charterer, recently introduced a digital auction platform as part of a test program. An example of how the sector may be proactive in dealing with disruption is Maersk's decision to work with Alibaba. If you are an individual or a small business, you can't transport anything without using a shipping corporation like DHL, which costs exorbitant rates.

 

The influence of digitalization may be seen in a variety of ways. To name just three, I'll mention automation, paperless processing, and digital supply chains.

 

First and foremost, automation has had a long-term influence on all aspects of the supply chain. Terminals and cranes that operate independently in ports are already a reality. They've been tested to transport components, food, medication or even smaller goods from the beach to moving ships and they've proven successful. The ship of the future may never call at a port again because cargo drones will handle the loading and unloading of the moving boats at sea, according to one extreme scenario. Crewless and remotely operated cargo ships might be the norm in the future. Autonomous shipping is conceptually at our doorstep. Those who have mastered the technology may reap the rewards and enhance their chances of winning the commodities game. So players need to keep an eye on every operation and look for ways to automate it to increase efficiency.

 

Distributed ledger technology (DLT), or blockchain, is the second area of focus. The first blockchain-based trade-finance agreement was announced by Barclays in September 2016, for example. Normally, it takes between seven and ten days to issue and approve a letter of credit. Global container shipping giant Maersk has been engaging in a proof-of-concept (PoC) with the IT University of Copenhagen to digitize the bill of lading (BOL), which may easily produce a 25-centimeter-high paper pile when printed. Customers and sellers are frequently unaware of the whereabouts, quality, or delivery of orders. All parties may be informed on the location and condition of the items being transported using DTL-powered processing, including temperature and moisture monitoring, with the findings hashed to the blockchain. Digitalization is also possible in the back office. A.P. Moller-Maersk, for example,  the majority of their shopping online will contrasted with the real seafreight component of the package.

 

As a third factor, automation and digital processing are transforming supply chain management into the digital supply chain. Third-Party Logistics (3PL) companies have dominated supply chain management. A new generation of technologies could make it possible for companies to enter this market. Not because they want to, but because they demand service levels, including entire supply chain visibility, that conventional 3PL participants would fail to offer. For this reason, 3PL providers must not only make every effort to understand their customers' requirements and wishes, but also acquire the required digital core competencies through internal talent pools and external specialists in order to satisfy customers' expectations.

 

Those that do not embrace the digital revolution risk going out of business in the near future, as it has already happened to many.

 

 AUTHOR

VALERIE AKU NYANYO