By Kirsi Tikka, ABS Executive Vice President & Senior Maritime Advisor
Given the fast pace of technological development, it is not truly possible to forecast the future in detail, even for as little as 10 years. However, we can confidently make predictions that are extrapolated from the trends we see developing today. The shipping industry will be transformed by increased automation, data, connectivity and improved analytics capabilities, as well as digital alternatives to commercial transactions.
There are two key drivers of technological development: regulations and financial sustainability. By 2030, the industry will be working to reach the target of reducing GHG emissions per cargo transport by 70%. This will be achieved with a mix of advances in ship technology, improved efficiency of ship operations, new low carbon fuels and propulsion alternatives, as well as market based measures.
Predictive vetting and vessel rating will have a solid foundation
Classification will use dynamic condition data to assist survey planning and to make surveys less disruptive and condition based rather than calendar based.This kind of real-time vessel performance data combined with data analytics and machine learning will underpin a range of decisions in the future, whether by regulators, charterers, or rating organizations.
As a consequence of the increasingly pivotal role of vessel data, understanding and planning how the data is collected and used, data quality and cyber security will all be foundational elements to be considered from design to operations.
Many of the new technologies supporting regulatory compliance as well as cost reductions will result from autonomous ship development projects, but the application of those technologies will not require new ships.
Prospects of shipping 2030
The ship built today will still be viable but may benefit from or require retrofits. In 2030, most vessels will have joined the Internet of Things, and be part of the Internet of Ships. This will entail increased connectivity to shore and a focus on a more efficient operation of the fleet, not only the individual vessel.
Other new technologies to watch include additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Combining it with increased reliability and robustness of systems and predictive/preventative maintenance could introduce a step change to inventory management of spares, and ship maintenance and operations.
Commercial trading platforms, block chain technology and crypto currencies will be introduced to transform and optimize the logistics chain in some shipping sectors. This transformation is likely to take place in advance of the major changes in ship design and technology. All these changes will require regulatory changes and extensive product development and innovation. New advances in technology must have even better safety and environmental performance than is expected of shipping operations today. If the transformation is implemented diligently, then it will leave shipping a more efficient, safer and more responsible industry than it is today.