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Embracing disruption in shipping

Article - November 12, 2018

Singapore firms are adopting Industry 4.0 technologies to bring the centuries-old shipping sector into the 21st century.


Digitalization is reshaping the world as we know it, transforming sectors in ways no one would have recognized just a short time ago. And the age-old shipping industry is no exception with exciting technological changes improving operations just as world trade is booming thanks largely to maritime transport.

One company playing what some would call a disruptive, yet positive, role in all of this is Alpha Ori Technologies, a Singapore-based firm that is moving the shipping business from archaic analog systems to connected and smart digitalization.

“Instead of looking at what we do as disruption, I’d rather look at it as optimizing and utilizing what’s out there and making sure all components and systems of a ship work together for the benefit of all,” explains CEO Capt. Rajesh Unni. “We look at how we can be useful to all the maritime stakeholders whether it’s the port manager, the vessel owner, the ship’s operator or the financial institutions supporting the industry.”

The three chief aims of Alpha Ori Technologies are enabling customers to operate ships safely, economically and efficiently by ensuring that all systems are utilized in the most appropriate and beneficial manner.

In order to get there, the company has designed a system to digitally unite an entire vessel’s “ecosystem”, connect that to a digital cloud monitoring other ships and use the data to achieve those goals mentioned above.

The company’s SMARTShip Live system enables vessel managers on shore to visualize a ship’s operational parameters and performance data such as vessel speed, fuel oil consumption and essential voyage information in real-time.

“It’s all about how to use data in a way that affecting the bot- tom line, boosting safety and improving operational efficiency,” the CEO says. “That’s where our focus is because we have a good track record in technology with many years of operating tech experience.”

These new technology concepts being embraced in Singapore include big data which local company ShipsFocus Group offers its clients, says CEO Chua Chye Poh.

“Big data, for example, allows our team to apply a ship’s automatic identification system and artificial intelligence (AI) to generate new analytics which give perspectives the market did not have before and find new ways for customers to save money.”

ShipsFocus has developed an aggregated shipping system which consolidates several customers’ cargo into one to cut down on the number of ports a ship has to visit, slashing costs for both the carrier and his customer.  As Mr. Chua explains, “Aggregated shipping utilizes the power and the clarity of an AI-enabled platform and rationalizes demand and supply.”