Tips to Perform Quality Monitoring for Freight and Container Ships

World seaborne trade rose to a record high in 2018 reaching 11 billion tons. With around 90% of global trade transported by sea according to the International Chamber of Shipping, it is important to ensure that performance monitoring is undertaken to guarantee minimal disruptions in the flow of goods and materials. Periodic quality monitoring of freight and container ships will also boost company revenues, minimize losses, and reduce the negative impact on the environment. Below are some strategies to undertake quality monitoring on freight ships to improve the level of services and achieve efficiencies. 

Get the Right Instruments and Devices

Performance monitoring is crucial to optimize the potential of freight and cargo ships. To do this, it is beneficial to outfit the vessel with the right instruments and devices that can keep track of performance and create a monitoring system that will measure their effect. For example, borescopes are useful tools that can detect problems in the machinery and propellers of the ship without causing disruptions. They can be inserted in hard to reach places allowing users to see what’s going on in the engine, fuel systems, intake valves, and piston without disassembly. It is estimated that poor hull and propeller performance account for 10% of the world’s energy cost. Hence, if technical issues are resolved before they become full-blown problems, interruptions to the operations can be averted preventing money losses. Other tools may also be used to comply with regulatory and environmental requirements such as those that monitor carbon emissions and better fuel efficiency. 

Use Artificial Intelligence

Another strategy that can improve the performance of cargo ships is to employ artificial intelligence (AI). From automated processes such as decking systems and stowage of vessels at container terminals to reducing fuel consumption, AI can improve the quality of shipping services. To illustrate, a shipping company may be able to trim its fuel use by using an AI software that is able to predict the most economical and efficient route, thereby, saving money. The software will take into account several factors such as currents, weather, and potential problems. AI can also use sensors and cameras to identify vessels in the surrounding areas that will improve safety and prevent collisions. Ship collisions can happen, but the use of image recognition tech could assist in monitoring shipping lanes and avoid accidents. 

Adopt Marine Telematics

Marine telematics systems record, process, transmit, and store data of a vessel’s activities that will be used to improve its operations. The system consists of a satellite antenna, a user interface, and a communication link. The satellite links the vessel with the outside world when there is no land-based communication tower available. Telematics technology can help track and monitor a ship’s location in real-time.

It is also possible to create a local area network (LAN) onboard that will cover the entire vessel so that cargo can be monitored while in ocean transit. LoRa, Zigbee, and NB-IOT are examples of suitable vessel communication technology that can track containers under the deck. Aggregated data will not only serve the crew, but also shipping lines, partners, and customers.

Cargo vessels represent a substantial bulk of maritime trade. Quality performance monitoring using marine telematics, devices, and instruments, and artificial intelligence can enhance returns to the industry, lower costs, and reduce carbon emissions through efficient fuel use.

Sara Zipf graduated in marine biology before moving to work for a leading environmental NGO. For the past half-decade she's raised her two daughters and taken up her passion of writing.

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