Making Shipping Smarter: How the IoT is transforming shipping

09 January 2020

The global transformation of container shipping as a result of new technology is at the heart of Intermodal Asia. This innovation, spearheaded by Chinese firms and global intermodal giants alike, represents new priorities within the industry, particularly a desire for much greater accuracy—and therefore greater transparency—as well as more efficiency, adaptiveness, responsiveness and profitability.


Artificial Intelligence

With frequent headlines invoking HAL 9000 and Terminator’s Skynet, Artificial Intelligence seems to have become a frighteningconcept to many people. But the opportunities AI presents container shippingare huge, particularly for autonomous control and cybersecurity – the latter is increasingly important as shipping firms gather more and more data.

For instance, in 2017, Maersk fell victim to an enormous cyberattack that cost the company as much as $300 million. New AI platformsthat can learn what ‘normal behaviour’ within an organisation’s computer systemlooks like could be the answer to threats like these, developing the ability todetect and counter any anomalies.

Something Maersk has already taken advantage of is anAI-driven situational awareness technology produced by Sea Machines Robotics.Sea Machines predicts such a system can reduce Maersk’s operational costs by 40%.



Container shipping can also benefit from improved telematics systems. Telematics is any technology that measures, sends andreceives information about movement, speed and performance of vehicles, such as GPS. Shipping is already taking advantage of cheap, reliable and globalsatellite communications system.

But using Big Data, telematics systems can make moreaccurate and usable measurements of weather and sea conditions, fuelconsumption, speed, idle time and more to better optimise the route a vessel is taking, predict maintenance and significantly reduce operating costs.

Telematics allows humans to make better decisions by collecting and analysing data quickly and reliably. It can provide better data about maintenance and operations, thereby paving the way for even less human intervention, and eventually entirely autonomous shipping.


The Internet of Things

All of this ties into the ever-ubiquitous Internet ofThings, which is set to play a big role in smart containers and set to addsignificantly more adaptiveness and responsiveness right down the supply chain. 

This includes capacity sensors in warehouses and ports,systems that detect and analyse events to allow for more accurate deliverydates, route optimisation tools, and energy management monitors and fault detection systems that can monitor fleets of ships for faults and maintenance.

More importantly, the IoT will make cargo tracking mucheasier. Firms can make use of tools that detect unauthorised openings of shippingcontainers and track the exact location of individual items. For sensitivecargoes, an IoT-enabled device could manage the environment of a shippingcontainer, with remote temperature monitoring allowing users to adjust heat and humidity according to the cargo’s requirements.

As a result, firms will be able to offer a more efficient, more reliable, more cost-effective and far smarter service than ever before..


Get the full low-down on smart containers at Intermodal Asia 2020. Taking place in Shanghai, 17-19 March.


Taking place in Shanghai on 17-19 March, Intermodal Asia 2020 presents a full content programme touching on some of these key developments and innovations. This segments on New Technologies to Optimize the Container Logistics Market and Smart Containers, explaining how new technologies are creating greater transparency and encouraging more profitability, efficiency, and resilience.