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Smart shipping, the future of the maritime branch?

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Courtesy of Lagersmit

Ships that don’t need a captain and are able to sail by a computer system? A few years ago it sounded unreliable, but not anymore. The development of self-driving cars and drones made this topic interesting for the maritime branch and not without a reason. Read this blog to find out more about the benefits and how the seals of Lagersmit contribute.

Smart shipping can be divided in two categories: unmanned ships and autonomous ships. The difference between these two categories is that unmanned vessels are driven by an operator from a control center onshore. On autonomous ships a computer on board takes decisions about the route, speed, fuel consumption, maintenance and mooring in the harbor. To make sure everything is under control, an autonomous ship is always connected with a control center onshore.

Several developments in the marine branch contributed to the increased interest in smart shipping, such as stricter environmental regulations, technological developments and fuel diversity.

What are the benefits of smart shipping?
Reducing personnel costs is one of the major benefits of smart shipping. For example: around 15 to 20 crew members go on a cargo ship, such as a captain, a few steersmen, technical engineers, sailors and a cook. On a smart ship these crew members are unnecessary and this results in saving money. Since there won’t be any crew on the ship, staff facilities will also be irrelevant. This means that new ships can transport extra loads, because there will be additional space on the vessel.
Safety also plays an important role in smart shipping. Around 70 to 80 percent of the accidents at sea are a result of human mistakes and with new smart vessels this should be solved. Johan de Jong from Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) says that the capacity of waterways can be increased because of autonomous ships. “You can adjust the traffic and avoid that ships sail in each other’s territory or have to wait for each other at locks. This increases the traffic flow.”

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