Maritime technology has enabled not just the digitization of shipping lines, but also ports, terminals, ship makers, freight forwarders, and even port towns to transform how they view, behave, and deal with sustainability. Maritime operations have evolved into a digital enterprise, whether on land or at sea, but are they also sustainable?
When we think about sustainable marine technology, we think of a scenario where the worldwide logistics business is completely digitized and automated. Although this has not yet been accomplished in the industry, the progress has been spectacular, and marine technology is playing an important role in achieving that aim.
We are witnessing a series of events in technical innovation applied to the marine sector, all of which are aimed at achieving goals in terms of energy, social, and economic progression that benefit everyone. Regulations created by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) regarding climate change and the efforts that the maritime industry should make to avoid it drove the impetus, besides collective awareness.
What are some examples of industry-wide sustainable marine technologies?
We can, for example, point to the fact that some companies are focusing on fuel savings besides digitalization and automation of processes, which allows paper savings, administrative and operational time reductions, and hence cost savings. Several enterprises are also driving the development of new biofuels, which will allow them to significantly reduce pollutant gas emissions from ships by utilizing sustainable marine technologies.
We can see that some companies are installing a wind solution to their tankers to reduce emissions. The structure of this wind solution is like this: they built it around two rotor sails that, when the wind is favorable, allow the ship to maintain speed and time while saving fuel and lowering pollution by turning off the engine. We can also see that others are using a seaweed-based biofuel, which results in less pollution.
Other firms in the sector are also investing in this area, which is why we can't overlook the development of autonomous navigation vessels, some of which are already in testing and are entirely powered by electricity. Advances in using this technology will enable the future expansion of what has so far been a European Community project: the installation of inland electrical connections so that ships may feed off of them while in port, reducing polluting gas emissions in port towns.
In the port sector, the number of ports 4.0 is growing worldwide, as is the number of terminals that use drones for daily measurement and surveillance operations, gantry cranes controlled remotely and using virtual reality (as in Gijón port, Spain), and many other maritime operations that use IoT, Big Data, Blockchain Technology, and other technologies.
Sustainable marine technology will undoubtedly continue to prioritize digital innovations, but not everything has been spoken or developed in this regard. Will you take full use of this window of opportunity?