5 predictions for the future of the marine shipping industry
The pressure to remain competitive and ensure profitability, all in an industry impacted by new technologies and trends, is a constant for marine shipping companies. These companies must be aware of any potential changes looming on the horizon, which may have a positive or negative effect on their business.
Here are our five predictions that we reckon will be seen in marine shipping in the coming years.
1. Telemetry on ships
Marine ships, once considered as being rust-worn Iron hulks, brimming with philistine technology, have seen consistent technological upgrades as their owners search for ways of optimising operations. In the future, most ships will bear an extensive range of sensor devices, located in every possible location of a ship that will allow real-time data monitoring by a land-based operations team of faults or areas in need of repair.
2. Ships with larger capacities
Lighter materials and improvements in structure and tech should lead to a generation of large container mega-ships roaming the seas in the future. A glimpse towards this possibility is the MOL Triumph container ship that was launched in March 2017. Measuring over 400m long, the MOL Triumph can carry 20,150 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers. Larger containers mean more capacity and better use of available space.
3. Environmentally friendly shipping
Environmental and pressure groups have been demanding for years that marine ships reduce their carbon footprints. Thanks to technology breakthroughs, this now may be possible. Ways fleets are exploring to reduce emissions include:
- Aerodynamic hull design.
- Streamlined hulls.
- Low-carbon fuels for ships.
- Creation of efficient shipping lanes and journeys.
- Reducing friction with air cushions.
4. LNG replacing Oil as fuel
LNG has proven itself to be a safe, clean, and non-toxic fuel source, with extensive use being seen in the transport sectors of Asian countries such as China, Japan, and India. Experts have been encouraging shipping companies to make the switch from oil-based fuels to LNG, by pointing out that such a move would result in lower CO2 emissions, with costs remaining on par with ships that run on Diesel fuel.
Another advantage of using LNG is that environmental disasters caused by Oil leaking from run-aground ships would not occur with vessels fuelled with LNG.
5. Ships powered by Wind and Solar energy
The Turanor PlanetSolar catamaran is a solar-powered boat that in May 2012 became the first electric vehicle to circumnavigate the globe. Powered with 29,000 solar cells, the Turanor PlanetSolar represents a potential future for ships to harvest green energies for fuel. Companies are conducting tests, albeit on a smaller scale than using 29,000 solar cells, to discover the best way to utilise this energy. Although the likeliest outcome from wind and solar energy sources is that this technology will be used in conjunction with a ship’s pre-existing power supply.