Embracing Digitalization in the Maritime Industry

The shipping industry has been going through a transformation for many years, still with some claiming that it is an old industry and slow to digitize. New technologies emerge daily, providing an opportunity to improve operations, reduce costs, and increase safety through maritime digitalization.

However, this change also comes with a level of resistance, as many in the industry are hesitant to embrace new technologies and processes. In this post, we’ll dive into the significance of this trend, discuss the benefits of technology adoption, and address the challenges posed by resistance to change.

According to KPMG, digital technologies and tools will transform the role of vessels from being a central mechanism to an enabler of value creation. And to minimize the future impact of external influences on the shipping industry, advances in automation and connectivity will play a key role. 

These technologies will leverage smarter and connected networks, providing real-time visibility and monitoring of the vessels. This will massively reduce the communication gap between the people on the vessel and those on-shore, integrating infrastructure, data, and technology in a centralized source of truth. The output is clear: simplify processes (often manual ones), boost efficiency, and lower their operational costs and risks.


How to Leverage Real Time Maritime Data

Data analytics, machine learning, and automation will be fundamental in the industry’s transformation, but to be relevant, these tools will need to be able to handle large volumes of data: In maritime operations data is often siloed in emails, spreadsheets, and in people’s knowledge, rather than in structured databases. 

By first capturing and then leveraging vast amounts of data in real-time, companies can make informed decisions, optimize operations and improve the overall performance of their voyages. Additionally, the use of digital tools such as predictive ETAs and the automation of the demurrage process can help reduce the total cost of ownership of a cargo, improve contracting, and improve overall supply chain efficiency. This will be the key component for companies that want to thrive in the digital era.

The current tools in use are often archaic but built for a very specific or customized purpose. These tools are often deeply technical applications, as each company has different operating procedures, with a multitude of ways of interacting with external stakeholders.

It may be cumbersome and hard to keep track of things most of the time, but the trade-off here is that companies are sacrificing data quality and standard operating procedures to gain the necessary flexibility to adapt to their own ways of working.

The catch now is that competition is getting fiercer, with arbitrage opportunities shrinking, so every improvement in efficiency and productivity counts. Leaders need to make data-driven and contextual decisions, optimizing operations in real-time to stay competitive. This is the force driving the pursuit of new technologies that will enhance collaboration, visibility, and data analytics.



Digital Transformation is More Than Just Technology

To advance the maritime industry into the next generation, not only a technological transformation is needed, but also a cultural one. According to Wärtsilä, a leading player in the maritime and energy industries, digital transformation requires a cultural change, a new way of thinking, and a holistic approach that involves all aspects of the business.

It’s not just about implementing new software and hardware, but about changing the way people work, thinks, and collaborate. This cultural shift is critical for the success of digital transformation and requires strong leadership and governance to drive it forward.

Taking a holistic approach to digital transformation means that all parts of the business must work together to ensure seamless integration of technology and a consistent change in the way things are done. A 360-degree approach to digital transformation also helps to avoid silos and ensures that everyone is on the same page, working towards a common goal.

Stakeholders will need tools that enable seamless integration and connectivity, allowing the execution of processes in a flow that enables data capture and provides visibility to those involved in the supply chain.


Embracing Technology Adoption

Despite the benefits, not everyone is eager to embrace digitalization in the shipping industry. The study by Wärtsilä found that one-third of maritime professionals are actively resistant to digital changes, presenting a major challenge for companies looking to adopt technology. This resistance could stem from a lack of understanding, fear of job loss, or a preference for traditional ways of working. 

To overcome this challenge, companies must communicate the benefits of digitalization, provide training, and involve employees in the process of change. By embracing technology, companies can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase safety. 

However, resistance to change remains a significant challenge, and companies must address this to fully realize the benefits of digitalization. The shipping industry is experiencing a digital revolution, and it’s crucial for companies to embrace technology to remain competitive and succeed in the years to come.

Accepting the change and seeing the future as non-existent without digitalization is only the first step. The next challenge resides in how to select the right technology for each business. If you want to understand how your company can be a part of this trend, check out Voyager’s post about how low-code technology can help you digitize your business.

Share this post