A quick guide to Artificial Intelligence in shipping

Al Sisto

Blog by: Al Sisto - 25 / Nov / 2021

Shipping is critical to our modern life. As goods criss-cross around the globe, demand is higher than ever. But there’s also a push to make these logistics smarter and more eco friendly. AI can help with that. So, to that end, here’s a quick guide to Artificial Intelligence in shipping and how AI can work for you.

What falls under the scope of shipping?

GB News defines shipping as, “It is the physical movement of goods from one point to another, such as the moving merchandise from the warehouse to the customer.” But most businesses use logistics and shipping interchangeably to describe the availability of goods, packaging, loading on transport and journey tracking all the way to their arrival at the customer’s door. Now, you can manage this whole process manually with simple excel sheets and label printers. But most modern companies are harnessing AI to make shipping more efficient and eco-friendly.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

There are different types of computing from reactive (which always has the same output to a given input) to self-aware (basically Skynet). But most AI in shipping has limited memory. According to Thetius limited memory allows machines to look some way into the past to make better decisions. For example, an autonomous ship will measure the speed and heading of other vessels in the area to establish the closest point of approach. It’s not possible to assess [the speed] and heading in a single moment, the machine must log information [over a period of time] to make an assessment. By combining dynamic data from the real world environment with static data (e.g. a chart), the vessel can take appropriate action.  It’s just a bit smarter than chess-playing computers but still acts within a defined set of parameters.

How does AI help with shipping?

Basically, according to APC, the technology of using data as a tool to learn from the past to help you improve decision-making in the future is invaluable. Some of the outstanding benefits of AI in the shipping industry include but are not limited to, improved analytics for decision-making, automation, safety, route optimisation, and increased efficiencies. Is a framework of automated decision-making tools and applied machine learning that makes shipping, including maritime, air and ground-based, more efficient. It can help you save time, fuel and ensure correct deliveries more often. And it can prevent your team from getting mired in low-skill and repetitive work that’s easy to automate.

How can you harness it?

To deploy AI in your environment, you first need to define your goals. What efficiencies are you looking to make? And do you have the budget to meet these targets? An IoT partner  can help you scope your requirements. Any shipping operation can benefit from the operational benefits of AI, from maritime shipping to domestic fleet. When you’ve identified the scope, run a test rollout. This might cover only a few assets or a single department. The goal is to minimise risk if the deployment doesn’t go as planned. You can optimise in situ and roll out these improvements to the wider operation following your small scale test. Once you’re up and running on the full scale, analyse your improvements against the goals you’ve set. If you’re achieving them, perhaps it’s worth moving to the next department for AI enhancement.


Topics: IoT, IIoT, artificial intelligence, shipping

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