The success of our global economy relies on the maritime industry to thrive. A booming world population that is deeply connected and interdependent is putting pressure on maritime operations and increasing demands on global supply chains. The maritime industry must meet growing demand, recover from global disruptions and supply chain instability as a result of the global health crisis, address regulations to reduce emissions, and reduce the impact of cargo theft.
Port and vessel operators and builders are embracing digitalization and intelligent maritime technologies to address these challenges, proactively position themselves for the future, and boost profitability, security, and sustainability.
What Is a Smart Port?
Smart ports and smart maritime technology refer to specific solutions that address critical needs in the logistics and transportation industry today. These solutions encompass ubiquitous compute, pervasive connectivity, cloud-to-edge infrastructure, AI, and multimodal sensing that help to bring greater visibility to and enable data-driven decision-making for ports, shipbuilders, and ship operators.
Challenges for Ports and Maritime Industries
Global disruptions, supply chain instability, and analog systems are draining efficiency and putting workers, data, and business outcomes at risk. Many ports, vessels, and shipyards are still relying on direct observation methods and siloed communication networks. These legacy workflows make it difficult to adapt to the needs of growing populations that depend on trade and access to commodities to thrive. Ports, vessels, and shipbuilders face challenges in these key areas:
- Manual and pen-and-paper methods for managing cargo and vessel traffic are slow and inefficient.
- Businesses and customers cannot track their assets, including both full and empty containers.
- Increases in rates of theft and piracy demand greater security capabilities.
- Workers need to increase productivity while staying safe around equipment and heavy machinery.
- Environmental concerns and local regulations demand a lessening of ports’ and vessels’ carbon footprint.
Benefits of Smart Ports and Maritime Technology
Advances in AI, 5G connectivity, edge compute, and sensing technology are all coming together to define smart port and smart vessel environments. These solutions help drive automation in key processes, making ports and vessels safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.
- More-manageable assets: To help track and manage assets, AI computer vision solutions can be used to automatically recognize serial numbers on vessels, containers, and equipment.
- Powerful connectivity: To improve responsiveness and efficiency, 5G private networks—or 5G public networks with reserved bandwidth—are bringing connectivity to ports and vessels. These solutions connect workers, assets, and operators while pushing data to the cloud for insights and analysis.
- Safer ports and vessels: To help prevent accidents and injury, computer vision and proximity sensors can be used to monitor operations, vessels, and facilities, and that data can be used to improve safety and operating procedures. AI-enabled automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and automated forklifts can be used to carry out tasks that might otherwise pose risks to personnel.
- Automated critical awareness: To improve operations, IoT cameras and sensors can be used to collect data everywhere—measuring equipment conditions, underwater currents, vessel emissions, and noise levels. Additionally, these same technologies can be used to help secure prohibited areas from unauthorized access.
- Future-readiness built in: All of these solutions working in tandem can also enable advanced use cases, such as digital twins that recreate virtual replicas of the port or vessel environment in near-real time or automated berthing, which uses AI to facilitate bringing ships to port safely with minimal human oversight.
By implementing these solutions, port and ship owners and operators can realize new competitive advantages and strong business outcomes while satisfying environmental regulations. Improved traffic flow contributes directly to the bottom line, and shorter wait times for vessels waiting to berth translate into lower emissions and less noise pollution. Safer environments help prevent accidents and collisions involving vessels, equipment, and workers. Asset owners and customers can easily track their shipments in near-real time for greater convenience. Port operators can locate full and empty containers no matter where they are.
Digital Twin Benefits in Maritime Environments
The more-advanced applications of maritime technology are still maturing. For instance, digital twin technology is a virtual representation of a real-life asset or environment, built and updated with real-world data. Digital twins can be used to automate situational awareness of an object or environment by using AI to recognize anomalous behaviors or conditions. For example, a digital twin could use data from environmental and equipment sensors to detect if a crane’s load is too heavy for current wind conditions. Then, using a 5G communications network, the digital twin could automatically alert dock workers about the hazard.
How to Transform Maritime Environments
Smart ports and intelligent maritime technologies are made up of key software, hardware, and communications ingredients. For software, orchestration platforms help manage technology assets and keep AI models consistently updated across networked assets. For hardware, IoT sensors, cameras, and edge servers help collect and process data on vessels and at ports and shipyards without requiring a cloud connection. For communications, a 5G network is essential to deliver the high bandwidth and low latency required to support key use cases.
Intel® Hardware and Software Solutions
Intel’s superpowers of ubiquitous compute, pervasive connectivity, cloud-to-edge infrastructure, AI, and sensing technologies are all immediately applicative to smart maritime use cases.
- Intel® processors for IoT deliver the performance and capabilities needed to accelerate AI at the maritime edge.
- Intel vPro® platform-based devices provide key remote manageability and security tools that enable IT departments to help secure, update, and remediate devices throughout the port or vessel environment.
- Intel-powered 5G networks are essential to smart maritime deployments, offering the low latency and high bandwidth needed for fast data analysis and communications at the edge.
- Intel® Smart Edge is a Kubernetes-based computing platform that simplifies deploying edge networks and multi-access edge computing (MEC) for smart maritime applications.
- Intel® DevCloud is a cloud-based development sandbox where smart maritime solutions developers can test-drive their applications on Intel® processors and find the best-fit match for their deployment.
- Intel-enabled, comprehensive cybersecurity is becoming more and more crucial to IoT deployments to help safeguard the maritime edge from unauthorized access, malware, and data loss.
Getting Started with Smart Ports and Maritime Technology
With a vast range of solutions and offerings, it can be difficult to know where to start. Email the Intel maritime technology team at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with matching solutions to your specific needs. For a detailed, holistic view of maritime solutions, read our maritime solutions eBook.