Originated in 2011 by the German Government, “Industrie 4.0” was originally used to describe a highly computerised manufacturing process. Siegfried Dais, Deputy Chairman of Robert Bosch GmbH, remarked that it is highly likely that the world of production and logistic will be revolutionised as the world “becomes more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else”. That was 2013.
Today, the shipping industry is rapidly evolving into one that utilises advancements in interconnectivity to better manage their resources globally. Maritime Digitalisation is home to a wide spectrum of activities ranging from what is seemingly a simple digital conversion of physical logbooks and records to the holy grail of autonomous shipping. The maritime digital landscape is vibrant and dotted with bubbling technologies, but due to its nascent state, challenges and opportunities come in nearly equal dosage.
Lack of a common data standard
Having come off from a fairly recent analogue past, there are no shortage of new use cases for digitalisation within the maritime sector. However, with every new digital product, comes with it new data standards in terms of quality, security, access rights and curation. This lack of uniformity is not unique to the maritime sector but a norm in most early developments – anyone remembers the VHS and Betamax war of the 70s? This diversity in standard will inevitably impede interoperability between different systems and ultimately the proliferation of data services within the industry.
Things are definitely changing as more and more large shipowners are working with maritime NGOs such as Classification Societies and other Original Equipment Makers, to establish basic “ground rules” such as data standard. One such collaboration is between engine maker Wartsila and DNV GL, where both parties would focus on establishing a common way to classify data, the requirements for their usage and cyber security for maritime application.
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