Resistance to Change Stopping Shipping Evolution
Digitalization is on the lips of everyone in the industry. The new movement seems to be gaining momentum, but not as fast as one might hope. Regardless, digitized ships are spreading in the market, usually only partially digitized or just with one or two digital embellishments. There is still a ways to go for a fully-digitized ship. What is holding the shippers back?
The maritime industry has largely taken up a reactive role, waiting for others to pave the way. It has been a trend in shipping to only adopt practices once they have been tested and the risk of it not working is as low as possible. Regarding digitalization, risks grow to include people losing their jobs and companies becoming less relevant.
That is why, only a small portion of ships are fully connected, the rest only have email and dial-up capability. Not to mention, the crew that has depended on traditional operating procedures may be reluctant to make a thorough change. For example, navigators who are used to paper charts could have a harder time embracing Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).
Additionally, with the implementation of digital advancements, it is necessary to have a crew that is capable of operating the latest technologies. That necessitates extensive training for existing seafarers which is a very costly option, hindering complete digitalization further.
However, for as slow as change is coming, shippers recognize the need for revitalization and upgrading of their procedures. The especially harsh wake-up call was the cyber-attack on A.P. Møller – Maersk that resulted in extreme losses. Investing in cybersecurity became an important part of operations rather than a costly burden.
In a global survey of more than 200 maritime executives and professionals released by Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, ninety percent of respondents expressed the need for real-time data access and information sharing. They see the advantage of these functions for increased efficiency and performance of the shipping industry.
Indeed, this shift is already visible with communications from a ship via satellite growing rapidly. According to the estimation from DNV GL, in two years the data capacity of the VSAT network has increased from 8.7 Gbps to 16.5 Gbps. This signals that the need for the transition to new technologies is imperative since current approaches don’t have the capacity to cope with the onslaught of information.
Therefore, it is safe to conclude that reluctance to change seems to be gradually diminishing with industry executives pushing for optimization of shipping operations.