We’ve talked before about how the shipping industry is traditionally slow to adopt to change but here at Martide we’re big fans of technology, and of harnessing its power to make the way we work more efficient and cost-effective. One of the latest buzzwords to be making waves (pun intended!) in the maritime industry is AI - or Artificial Intelligence. Smart shipowners and managers are increasingly turning to the benefits this disruptive technology offers. But what exactly can AI do for the sector and is it really here to stay, or is it just a high-tech pipe dream?

Facing up to threats, meeting challenges

The maritime industry is currently undergoing changes on a global scale. Shipping companies are realizing that to ignore transformation is to do so at their peril. The pressure to adhere to new environmental regulations has never been more intense - and we would argue, quite rightly so. From the fuels that vessels run on to the increasing demands for safety to avoid spillages, these challenges are ones that need solutions that have been developed to combat the circumstances we live and operate in.

Shipowners and managers can no longer afford to be complacent by ignoring these environmental and safety issues, or the financial devastation caused by cyber threats and security breaches. The world has changed and automation and digitization are being recognized as the first line of defense in helping to make ships greener and safer and the industry as a whole more secure, efficient, and economical.

How can Artificial Intelligence help?

To address these challenges and maintain its position as the world’s chosen method of transportation, shipping companies need to improve their systems and processes - and that means going digital. AI really comes into its own when its dealing with large-scale numbers and being used to collect, collate and analyse data. Findings can then be applied to help shipowners make more informed decisions in everything from reducing operational costs to security risk mitigation to implementing ways to ensure compliance with new environmental regulations.

American Bureau of Shipping: a case study

It can be tempting to dismiss all of this tech talk as just that - talk. So let’s take a look at a real life example of how Artificial Intelligence is being implemented in the maritime sector. The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) is currently working with Google Cloud and SoftServe to introduce AI-enabled corrosion detection to the offshore and maritime industries.

The recent completion of a pilot project by the three parties successfully used Artificial Intelligence models to identify levels of corrosion and coating breakdown on vessels and offshore structures. According to Christopher J. Wiernicki, Chairman, President and CEO of ABS:

“We are building a future in which digital tools can remotely assess the condition of a ship or offshore unit, and automatically detect and measure coating breakdown and other structural issues, improving safety and reliability.”

ABS hailed the project as a success, pointing to the accuracy of Artificial Intelligence’s ability to detect and assess the usual abnormalities found during a visual inspection. Moving forward, they say, it is even possible that AI could be used to inspect, evaluate and address the reasons behind corrosion and coating breakdown patterns.

A modern approach to shipping

It can sometimes feel that modern operations in the maritime industry are brimming with uncertainty. The prospect of digitization and the use of Artificial Intelligence can sound overly futuristic and even a little daunting. But the one constant we can rely on in this sector is change: maritime technology, and the world around us, are both constantly evolving.

As business people we owe it to our organisations to be more competitive, and to our clients to deliver a better experience. As responsible participants in the industry we owe it to our crews and the environment to run safer, greener vessels. Technological developments in the shipping industry can be embraced and harnessed to meet all of those demands.

If you're interested in finding out how to streamline your recruitment and crewing operations, talk to Martide today about how our advanced software solution can help you run a leaner and more cost-effective business.