Sail into the future: Embracing technologies in the shipping industry


Published On Mon, 31 May 2021



From laptops to clothes and almost everything in-between, have you ever wondered how your online purchase items reach you from across the world? Mostly by ship.


For centuries, the shipping industry has been an important part of the global economy, and it continues to play an essential role in transporting 90 percent of all goods and products from place to place in today's world. As technology advances, it is more apparent that digitalisation in shipping will be the way forward. In an increasingly competitive market, digitalisation in shipping can help companies grow their business by taking advantage of new opportunities as they arise while ensuring that they remain relevant given current trends.


So, let’s take a look at how these companies in Singapore are adopting Industry 4.0 and leveraging these trending technologies to make shipping and ports more resilient, efficient, and environmentally friendly!



Integration of Blockchain, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI)




Today, when it comes to digitalisation, there is no doubt that blockchain, big data, IoT, and AI are vital technologies driving the next wave of digital transformation, and there is no exception in the shipping industry.


You might have heard of blockchain in the financial world, but how does blockchain play a part in the shipping world? One of the businesses that can benefit from blockchain is the certification industry. A world leader in the certification industry, DNV is the first in the certification industry to integrate blockchain technology in their business. The company's digital transformation strategy relies on blockchain as one of its key technologies. As blockchain enables companies to share data in real-time and offer customers more transparency into their supply chains and product origins while preserving confidentiality and security, DNV's use of blockchain has been crucial in its efforts to advance sustainability by providing greater transparency into supply chains on an international scale. DNV has been exploring how blockchain can be applied to their business operations in various ways, which will lead to increased transparency, reduced costs, and improved customer experience.


Besides blockchain, one of the most advanced and innovative solutions to date in the shipping supply chain are sensors, IoT, and big data applications. The use of sensors has been a significant breakthrough in the industry. It gathers information about objects that are being shipped from one location to another. In addition, IoT takes this technology even further by implementing smart devices which can communicate with each other and provide real-time updates about any issues or disruptions along the way. Finally, big data analytics provide a comprehensive overview of your business, including shipments, inventory levels, and customer feedback through its predictive analytics capabilities.


Leveraging these technologies to collect field data, Bureau Veritas has designed and launched a unique supply chain solution, Supply-R , to support companies in better business decisions and minimise the risk of shortage. To further develop its corporate growth initiatives, Bureau Veritas has also joined forces with Microsoft to the use of artificial intelligence in its testing activities.


Up and Coming Trends


Additive Manufacturing (AM, 3D Printing)



Another potential technology that has captured the industry's attention is Additive Manufacturing (AM, 3D Printing). This technology is getting ever more relevant for spare parts production. With a great ambition to grow the Singapore maritime sector’s value and job creation target by 2025, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has initiated a Joint Industry Program (JIP) to accelerate additive manufacturing in the maritime industry. DNV has been appointed as the lead researcher to support this initiative. With the support of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), DNV has also successfully launched the Global Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, and collaborates with Sembcorp Marine, SIMTech, and NAMIC to help enhance the manufacturing competitiveness of Singapore’s marine and offshore engineering industry.


Going Green: Decarbonisation


Image source: New Wave Media INT (Maritime Logistic Professional)


Green shipping is the new frontier in sustainable business. It's about more than just environmental responsibility; it's a strategy for staying competitive by creating a customer base of people who are looking to buy products from companies that care about their future, too. That means we're not just talking about reducing ship emissions but also focusing on how our ships can be powered by clean energy and what we put inside them to keep goods safe and fresh.


In 2011, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) became the world's first maritime administration to launch a comprehensive pro-environment initiative, known as the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative (MSGI). Up to S$100 million has been set aside to promote clean and green shipping in Singapore. This programme focuses on creating awareness of possible avenues towards sustainable shipping. And just recently, MPA together with six industry partners including the Foundation Det Norske Veritas, which owns DNV, agreed to launch a decarbonisation centre in Singapore to advance decarbonisation of shipping. The MPA and its partners will contribute S$120 million in total to set up this centre.


Being at the forefront of this movement with its Green Shipping Programme (GSP) in Norway for decades, DNV has incorporated many sustainability elements into its work such as all-electric ships, and is sharing this knowledge with Singapore's maritime cluster.


Coping with Technologies



Recognising the urgency to digitalise the shipping industry, Bureau Veritas has launched BVS eAcademy to provide online learning for marine and offshore energy markets for maritime professionals, or students looking to develop their awareness and understanding of specific areas of expertise.



The Future of Shipping


The disruption caused by COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalisation speed in the shipping industry. The digitisation and automation of traditional operations will have a transformational impact on logistics as we know it. With transportation costs steadily increasing, companies are looking for ways to cut costs and improve their efficiency. Digitalisation offers an innovative solution that could help companies save money by reducing their dependence on expensive labor, and improving customer service levels with real-time information. With new technologies and innovations being the constant, it will be interesting to see what changes come next!






About Bureau Veritas

Located at Teletech Park in Singapore Science Park 2, Bureau Veritas is a world leader in laboratory testing, inspection, and certification services. Created in 1828, the group has 75,000 employees located in more than 1,600 offices and laboratories around the globe. Bureau Veritas helps its clients improve their performance by offering services and innovative solutions in order to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructure, and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection, and social responsibility.


About DNV

Located at the Singapore Science Park 1, DNV is an independent expert in risk management and assurance, operating in more than 100 countries. Since its foundation in 1864, the company’s purpose has been to safeguard life, property and the environment. Through its broad experience and deep expertise, DNV advances safety and sustainable performance, sets industry benchmarks, and inspires and invents solutions.


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