The shipping industry is no exception as one of the fundamental industries in the world, due to the wide scope of activities from the viewpoint of geographical dispersion, the volume and complexity of operations, and major stock symbols, to find its survival in this inevitable achievement. Nowadays, the two main components of the shipping industry, i.e. ports and shipping lines and their affiliated industries are continually being updated and automated with smart systems. The infrastructure of the mentioned industries such as ships and ports are being equipped with new and smart technologies, and correspondingly, there are always skill enhancement and training programs for employees. Undoubtedly, the productivity of every sector of each industry, including the maritime industries, is affected by three main factors, including service quality, service speed, and total costs. The factors play a major role in competitiveness which heavily depends on automation and smart systems in today’s highly competitive business world.
Smart Technologies in the Shipping Industry A comparison between the existing domestic facilities, equipment, and human resources in ships, ports, and shipyards in the past 40 years and modern ships, ports, and industries, indicates huge differences. The differences are clearly evident in the increased scope and speed of activities, improved accuracy and quality of activities, improved safety, reduced manpower requirements, and enhanced employee skills. The use and implementation of new technologies are the cause of such changes and developments. Electronic and information technology has played a major role in such rapid developments. The nature of marine activities, working onboard and in ports, used to be generally based on human intervention (manual), due to which all the ports required considerable human:
• Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is becoming a key driver of national competitiveness.
• Information technology and smart technologies play a vital role in stimulating innovation for creating new processes and products, and consequently creating competitive advantages.
• Automation and information technology improve the transparency of administrative processes and decisions. All of the advantages are possible to achieve by minimizing manpower requirements.
Some Advances Made through Automation and Using Smart Systems in the Shipping Industry
• Port automation using various technologies, including IT, which greatly improved the speed, safety, and accuracy of operations.
• Transforming the conventional engine room controls to Unmanned Machinery Space (UMS) controls, which have reduced the number of engine room staff.
• Digitization of most shipping reports has facilitated the entry of information with higher accuracy and more durability in line with the increased volume, resulting in smaller number of staff in all the related sectors. • Effective and practical Computer Based Training (CBT) on ships has not only resulted in skill enhancement, but also reduced the current staffing processes in specialist training centers.
• The possibility to effectively and accurately enforce most of the international laws and regulations, such as reducing environmental pollution caused by greenhouse gases, etc.
• Establishing satellite networks for providing the staff with the internet, satellite TVs, and communication services, has led to greater incentive among them and, consequently, higher productivity and improved living conditions.
• Digital shipping plans that are automatically sent to ships have reduced the staffing requirements and costs, and enhanced the safety of navigation.
• Consumption of components, supplies, oil, fuel, etc. is possible to carefully control, monitor, and optimize with advanced software systems.
• Provision of accurate, timely, and effective instructions for ships, and the development of direct and effective communication with staff, especially in the case of hazardous and accidents, have improved the safety and security of navigation operations.
• New technologies in the field of “condition monitoring” reduce the volume of “planned maintenance” on ships, in addition to reducing the risk of machine failure at lower costs.
• New technologies have provided a lot of information for captains about the optimal route selection and the drainage and trim systems of ships.
• The applications of IT, as one of the main pillars of automation and smart systems, make it possible for accessing to aggregated and long-term information, as well as sharing experiences and knowledge management. With proper planning, the organizational knowledge can be thus easily collected, extracted, and transferred.
The process of automation requires accurate planning and continuous monitoring. The wide variety of technologies and their overlap and the update of various systems can sometimes be problematic in an industry. The technologies are rapidly becoming outdated one after another, which is a challenge facing the management of modern smart systems. However, the automation problems can be largely solved to gain the advantages by taking appropriate and balanced steps in the implementation of automation processes and the use of automation and smart systems.