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Digital networks hold opportunities for shipping

Digitalisation to impact future of shipping

Digital networks between ports and ships hold enormous potential for the shipping sector, according to a study by Berenberg bank and the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) published on March 27, 2018. Transformation impacts both structures and business models as well as overall production in the sector, the study entitled “Shipping in the Era of Digital Transformation (Die Schifffahrt in Zeiten des digitalen Wandels) found.

Data exchange

However, several infrastructural measures are required to tap this potential. Ships and ports must retrofit more effective digital infrastructure such as fibre optic cables, 5G wireless systems and use sensors and satellites comprehensively. Dr. Jörn Quitzau, an economist at Berenberg, pointed out: “Networks can be improved and logistic chains managed and organised in real time thereby reducing waiting times and making it easier to predict more reliable ship arrivals.”

Digitalisation creates potential

Prof. Dr. Henning Vöpel, Director of HWWI, noted: “The possibility of centralising information on a digital platform creates enormous potential for organising markets efficiently. Only few global providers of logistic platforms will integrate shipping as a part of a 360-degree solution in a much stronger way. Smaller providers, intermediaries and sub suppliers will probably come under considerable pressure.”

Considerable structural changes

Technologies such as 3D, evolutionary smart factories and more autonomous processes through algorithms and robots will cause considerable structural changes and lead to more decentralised production. Vöpel predicted: “The bulker capacities will rise disproportionately. Containers will remain the main element of global trade in goods.”

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