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The Future of Maritime: SMART Shipping

Singapore has been named the top maritime capital of the world not once, but for three consecutive years in a report ranking the world’s maritime capitals published in 2012, 2015 and 2017. How has Singapore managed to maintain its pole position? One factor is Singapore’s ambition in being a “Smart City” by staying ahead of the competition through a focus on innovation and investment in cutting-edge technology.

Technology is playing a crucial role in a period of structural transformation of the city state’s maritime industry. Research and development are leading the way as Singapore steps up its efforts to digitise and automate the industry to make sure it remains vital, versatile, and resilient.

Providing valuable insights into the global maritime industry, Menon’s《Leading Maritime Capitals of the World Report》is a biennial report consolidated to identify the most attractive maritime city regions in the world. Its purpose is to help position, and encourage learning and innovation amongst participating cities in the shipping industry. Participants are ranked according to four maritime sectors: shipping, finance & law, technology as well as ports & logistics. In maintaining its position as the Leading Maritime Capital of the World, Maritime Singapore has constantly placed an emphasis on driving innovation through partnerships and collaborations amongst industry partners, tertiary and research institutions. While it is no surprise that Singapore has once again clinched the top spot for 2017, its significant climb from fifth to second position in the Maritime Technology category is a highlight. This is the result of an increased focus in attracting more R&D centres to the city.

As digital technologies form the core focus of the maritime industry’s next stage of development, steps are being taken to help companies in Singapore develop capabilities to continue to succeed in the future.

Signing of MOU for Smart Ships Development

In developing and maintaining Singapore as an international maritime technology centre of excellence, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has been consistent in driving innovation in the maritime sector, especially with the encouragement of partnerships between industry partners, tertiary, and research institutions in research & development. Specifically, two MOUs centred on the development of smart ships were signed at the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC), held in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week from 26 to 28 April 2017.

One of it was a four-party collaboration between MPA, Alpha Ori, Lloyd's Register and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS). With four to five projects in the pipeline, the parties are working towards setting up a Centre of Innovation (COI) which will allow for joint research in the areas of data analytics for smart shipping, use of robotics and unmanned systems in port and shipping operations, as well as maritime cybersecurity.

Smart Ship Control System

A highlight of this year’s SMTC was the participation of Alpha Ori Technology Group. The B2B technology company did a live demonstration of their Smart Ship Control System on-site.

Alpha Ori, a global maritech company headquartered in Singapore, provides a well-established suite of products in SMARTShip Technology, Big Data Analytics and Ship ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions. With a vision to set itself as a centre of innovation for Singapore’s maritime industry, their avant-garde technologies have started to play a key role in helping maritime personnel with improved situational awareness, bringing about operational efficiency, along with Safety & Reliability in operations.

We sat down with Alpha Ori’s Singapore Operations Director, Mr Sanjeev Namath, to better understand the organisation’s SMARTShip technology and its role in the evolving maritime industry.

“Alpha Ori’s SMARTShip Technology is an IoT (Internet of Things) platform that digitally connects ships by gathering thousands of data points from various vessel systems,” said Mr Namath. With both real-time and historical data included in our on-board IoT server, all ship-specific data sent instantaneously to shore will allow the land crew to sort out issues before it gets prolonged, as well as mitigate any future vessel problems via remotely controlled vessel applications. Informed recommendations given to offshore staff through powerful data analytics result in more efficient and safe shipping operations.

(Mr Sanjeev Namath; Back row: 1st from left)

Just recently, the company’s SMARTShip Technology received the Cyber AL-SAFE notation from Lloyd’s Register . This means that all autonomous systems on-board have been accredited as safe.

Commenting on how the maritime industry has changed over the years, Mr Sanjeev shared that the shipping sector’s move into digitalisation is very real, and operating in IoT provides a great opportunity to attract youths into the industry. This new leap into the digital sphere is in accord with Alpha Ori’s mission to develop local talents in the maritime sector.

As part of a project initiative with MPA, Alpha Ori also invited students for a first-hand experience of their Smart Ship Control System at SMTC. Students from the Singapore Maritime Academy at Singapore Polytechnic shared their thoughts on the effects of technological advancement in the shipping sector.

While concerns of automation taking over manual jobs were raised, students were generally glad to see that the maritime industry is constantly improving. They were also impressed by how innovation has made shipping in this age more efficient, convenient, and safer.

Outlook for the future

As we move towards a future where remotely operated ships could ply Singapore waters, the days of ship operations and maintenance having to take place only on-board could be long gone.

For those who are keen to take up new challenges, explore new horizons and be part of a vibrant, dynamic and growing sector, explore the Maritime Singapore Connect website and find out more.

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About The MSC Office

The Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) Office is a national initiative, supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to profile the maritime industry and connect students and jobseekers with the multiple pathways into the industry.

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