The maritime ‘grid’ is the next digital revolution
Shipping has always been a cyclical industry, adapting to changing tides. When China’s entry into the markets boosted global trade, the entire maritime industry, from owners to engineers to naval architects, responded immediately. They built bigger, better ships that could efficiently carry more cargo over longer distances. In the decades since, the industry has grown and changed, responding to numerous different challenges.
Now we’re seeing what appears to be a perfect storm in the months and years ahead: we must address the zero-emission agenda while also responding to COVID-19 and all its market implications.
There is one big game changer that can help us: connectivity. With increased connectivity the maritime industry can be rewired with new processes and business models.
The limits of DIY digitalization
We all know the buzzwords: cloud solutions, big data, smart systems. There is no lack of creative energy in our industry, but in fact some of it is being poured into the wrong things when it comes to digitalization. With each organization building its own individual system, ‘DIY’ digitalization is proving harder, more difficult and more expensive than expected.
There are limits to how efficient these systems can be. Compare digitalization to the transformation from break bulk cargo to container shipping. When there were no universal standard dimensions for containers, there was a limit to how efficiently cargo could be loaded and shipped. We have the same situation today with data. Each ship owner is pouring resources into making the best ‘break bulk’ data system.
Or compare digitalization to the creation of the electric grid. How far would we get if each town had different electricity systems and standards?
A revolution in standardizing and sharing data
Why hasn’t the industry been able to standardize and share data in way that would lead to a revolution on par with containerization and the creation of the electric grid? One of the biggest factors is the lack of trust regarding data integrity and data security. Owners, charterers, manufacturers and brokers are protecting their own positions, sitting on their data silos.
This will not last. The changes will come, and they will come on an industrial scale. The business models will change. We are going to build smarter vessels, create smarter fleets based on smart global logistics systems integrated with the rest of the world economy. To make this happen sooner rather than later, we need to look hard at the difficult issues now. We need to solve the issue of trust. We need to adopt these new technologies safely and efficiently.
That’s why DNV GL built the Veracity industry platform for secure connectivity between industry players, driving digital transformation. Together, we’re creating standards for collecting and systemizing data. This February, the Smart Maritime Council, representing shipping companies, technology providers, manufacturers and stakeholders, officially supported the ISO 19848 data standard. The Veracity platform now supports the ISO19848 format, for ingestion, extraction, querying and exchange of data.
The new maritime grid
In time, 60,000 vessels in the world could collect data in the same way. Easy-to-use data in a standard format enables more innovation and faster time to market for valuable services.
Our vision is that this will be the basis of a maritime ‘grid’, a digital revolution that will benefit the entire industry in ways that we are only just starting to see. At DNV GL, we are committed to being part of solving long term industry challenges.