The marvels of technology (APIs, Big Data, Cloud Computing and more) continue to penetrate into each and every aspect of our lives. Whether it be work, life at home, entertainment, or how we do just about anything, all of it has completely changed from what it was one or two decades ago. Same is the case with the shipping industry. One after the other technological advancement continues to change and improve things in the naval maritime industry. These technologies come from all angles but when we take a closer look we see that most of these are the same as the ones that are also changing the face of IT and digitalization in other industries as well.
Technologies Influencing Maritime in 2018
The technologies we’re mentioning here, are those that will change the nature of maritime operations and business of shipping for the better. Among such technologies are big names like deep learning and artificial intelligence that can play an important role in predicting and providing solutions to problems faced by the shipping vessels. These can also be applied to maritime security and made use of to recognize images, video, and audio as well. Intelligent systems onboard can be a great help to staff and people on board in solving complicated problems efficiently and in a timely manner.
The applications of Industrial IoT can be useful as well. Liner operators particularly have expressed interest in using this technology for container tracking and reefer monitoring. Other technologies that are set to make their impact include Blockchain, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Drones, Robotics, and even Cyborg crew. Though it may a long time before all these technologies can successfully and completely revolutionize the shipping industry. However, we can safely say that all of these technologies will have major roles to play in vastly improving naval shipping in the future.
How APIs Will Revolutionize Naval Shipping
But what really is an API. Today APIs are getting a lot of attention from all sectors of every industry. This is because they hold a promise for the vast level of improvements that can be obtained through them.
Application Programming Interface
An API or Application Programming Interface can be described as an interface that a software uses to get the data it needs. This simplest definition of an API might be a little tricky, so we’ll break it down a little. Software applications have user interfaces for humans to interact with and use the software for their benefit. An API, on the other hand, provides a user interface to the software so that they can use it to gain access to any information or functionality that they need.
Most of our everyday tasks on the Internet involve APIs in the background without us being aware of it. Ordering a pizza, or ordering a cab, they all might simple and fast to us but there are always several APIs at work in the background that makes this task possible. Take an example. When you’re hotel searching you are easily able to get information on all suitable and available hotels within seconds. The reason for that too is APIs in the background that communicate back and forth between different applications, databases, and devices.
So how can APIs help and contribute to the maritime industry?
One of the chief contributions of APIs includes automation. In an industry like naval and shipping, there are a lot of moving parts, lots of operations and requirements that need to be performed in order for even the simplest of events to take place. Though the current trend in the industry for information exchange might be EDIs, APIs can easily replace and surpass them. APIs also enable real-time visibility of vessels which offers huge advantages over manual processes and EDIs. Not only an API stays on top of changing variables like rates, information, etc., it also eliminates costs associated with running older systems.
Automation is welcomed in every industry alike. Employers and business owners alike try to automate as many processes as possible today. APIs help achieves just that. By eliminating outdated and slower methods and the need for human interaction, not only are costs reduced but much higher levels of efficiency are also achieved. Most of the manual processes involved in shipping can be automated with the use of APIs.
APIs haven’t managed to gain traction with shipowners and those in the maritime industry like they could. And the reason behind that is hesitance on their part and the belief that existing systems are satisfying all their needs well enough. The concern with adopting APIs lies in the question that “will they create more problems than they will solve?” Thankfully, the answer to this question will always be a no as long as you’re using a good API. Qualities that highlight a good API include a simple interface with less disruption due to implementation and system maintenance. The use of APIs can help you gain insight into the whole process of the shipping lifecycle and that too in an automated way with the least risk of error.
Improved Mobility and Visibility
With the use of APIs and automation, instead of every step or stage of the process can begin execution simultaneously. When an automated system that can communicate on its own is implemented and put into place, it streamlines and synchronizes processes to speed up operations as a whole.
Location data can provide you improved and accurate visibility into the location of your vessels. In fact, with the use of APIs, even the contents of vessels can be ascertained easily and in a timely manner. Not only does location data offer visibility but can also help predict ETA in real time by also allowing for any delays that may occur along the way as well. We should always take into consideration the sensitivity of those data and should be handled with extra care.
Though APIs might not be the preferred choice for most in the industry as of now, in the future, it cannot be denied that older systems will have to be replaced with APIs that will automate and complete tasks in much shorter time. APIs are truly the future of the naval shipping industry.
Useful Material for the Shipping Industry
As always, I love to provide some material that has helped me. It is also a reference for me as well when I refer back to an article. If you find any links that could help this article become a better reference material, please add your comments below or talk to me directly.
Interested in API strategy, architecture, and design. Working to improve the quality and usability of information on the Web. CTO @OrfiumMusic