TMCnet Feature
September 22, 2020

Top Digital Innovations Changing the Maritime Industry

Victor Restis Navigates Shipping & Trade Toward Tomorrow

Today shipping and trade industry employ over 2 million seafarers and maritime personnel that are ultimately responsible for the processes and procedures that make this intricate supply chain system flexible and operational. In pre-COVID-19 conditions, hundreds of thousands of workers move in and out of the world’s ports each month. Victor Restis, president of Enterprises Shipping & Trade S.A., says that the maritime trade industry is full of traditional practices. Still, digital innovations are moving the industry into a new era.

Virtual reality (V.R.) is a leading technology making its way into the global shipping and trade industry. V.R. is being used in many different aspects, from crew entertainment to the development of new skills. This is particularly important when it comes to crew safety. Restis points out that one of the most significant risks to a failing supply chain is the health of the human resources needed to keep it moving. V.R. provides the ability to enhance onboard crew safety with cyborg technologies. This wearable technology can be used to monitor heart rates, track sleep patterns, and monitor steps or sugar levels in real-time. Depending on the health make-up of a particular crew member, V.R. technology can be used to ensure the health and wellbeing of onboard crew members by optimizing their daily health and exercise requirements.

E-learning is another digital innovation being used to increase proficiency in global maritime staff. Training is a critical component of any human resource department’s mandate, and a curriculum of continuing education keeps staff current on industry practices and educates them on the changing political and environmental landscapes of various countries for where they work. Human resource officers are implementing effective online training methods bringing significant value for the company and the employee. Online training solutions make the processes more accessible, faster, and more cost-effective and keep staff current on all work-based practices. New-age digital solutions such as virtual equipment simulation, 3D animated marine safety videos, and V.R. allow seafarers to remain at sea longer (if needed) while maintaining improved skill development and healthcare monitoring while at sea.

Autonomous vessels are a futuristic idea that will not launch anytime soon, though the industry loves to test this technology. Replacing humans onboard transoceanic cargo vessels is not a scenario the industry will see anytime soon, says Restis. However, several companies are experimenting with remote or autonomous ships to sea. Testing will require a crewed vessel, but as the technology advances, some positions previously held by a live person may be replaced.

Cyber Security is arguably one of the most critical digital advancements of this new age and plays an essential role in the global maritime industry. Preventing cyberattacks onboard large cargo vessels and even throughout the warehouses and drayage shipping sector is vital, especially given an industry that transports 90 percent of world trade.  Assessing risk potential and patterns helps develop protectionary measures and contingency plans to neutralize these risks when, or if, they arise.

According to Restis, global shipping and trade are a vital backbone of the worldwide economy. If digital innovations and technology can help increase crew safety and proficiency, delivery time, and overall efficiency, then it’s definitely in the best interest of companies and enterprises to explore and invest in these technological advancements.

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