Digitalisation in the UK Maritime Sector: A Stakeholders’ Pulse Check

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Image: © Maha Heang 245789 / Adobe Stock


Ships are a crucial asset of the global goods transportation system, as 85% of merchandise is carried by sea (Clarkson PLC, 2018). However, the shipping industry has remained change-averse for a long time, only adopting new technologies when required by regulations or when a short-term financial benefit is evident.

Many other industries are rapidly changing, incorporating I4.0 practices and technologies stemming. Such technologies include Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The aim of I4.0 is to enable data collection, exchange, processing, and automation to support systems to make decisions autonomously.

These new technologies are trickling down to the shipping industry. Nonetheless, these changes often only affect the state-of-art, leaving the state-of-practice stationary. Furthermore, even when changes reach the state-of-practice (e.g. Inmarsat reports that the average surveyed ship-owning organisation plans to invest $2.5 million in IoT applications over the next 3 years (Inmarsat, 2018)), these are often only applied lackadaisically, leading to lacklustre results that, in turn, hinder future R&D investments.

This paper aims to present the IN 4.0 project, aiming to ease the adaptation and adoption of I4.0 practices and technologies in maritime sector companies in order to improve their competitiveness. More specifically, the project aims to promote the modernisation of the maritime sector through the implementation of actions that help to transform Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to their 4.0 equivalents, identifying barriers that prevent the innovation of the maritime sector business model, improving the companies’ production processes, transforming the work organisation systems, knowledge and commercialisation, as well as training workers of the maritime sector in new occupations and tasks.


Read the full paper here. This paper has been written by the Maritime Safety Research Centre of the University of Strathclyde together with HSSMI.


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