Articles, Industrial IT

IoT Systems in the Shipping Industry

Shipping is increasingly becoming the focus of automation and networking. As in the automotive industry, this begins with commercial ships. All over the world, ships are being equipped with modern technology. Cost savings and efficiency are in the foreground.

Automation of shipping

Automation is relatively easy to map if you compare it with car traffic or aviation. Unlike car traffic, there is hardly any traffic on the seas. However, the situation is equally different in the ports of the world. Here, many rely on remote control. But there are also autonomous systems for docking. SmartDock is one such system, developed by Finnish tech giant Wärtsilä.

In aviation, you move through a three-dimensional space, and here too it is easier for ships. They only have to move left or right, not calculate up and down as an option. This changes again when it comes to submarines, and indeed research and development is also active in this area.

Networking the ships

Radar and radio were developed for the shipping industry and in times of the Internet, new solutions are being researched. For example, the two companies KVH and Kongsberg Maritime have developed an IoT solution for ships. Their first tests have been successful.

Kongsberg Maritime is a company that supplies navigation and positioning systems for the shipping industry. Together with the networking specialist KVH, a maritime IoT system was successfully installed on a multi-purpose vessel Simrad Echo.

The ship was equipped with a VSAT antenna for data transmission and the data access system Vessel Insight. The ship was operating as usual during the pilot project for maritime IoT. The ship was integrated in this way and the data could be viewed by the operator and customers.

Maintenance via IoT

The use of modern technologies in shipping is manifold. It ranges from the Internet of Things (IoT) to block-chain technology. In early summer, a cooperation between Topaz Energy and the merchant fleet of Dubai was established. This involved monitoring via VitalyX. This simplified and improved the maintenance of the ships. The system uses monitoring sensors and the software generates real-time data that provide information on the condition of the ships.

Similar to the automotive sector, ships that are on the road for commercial purposes are automated and connected. Commercial shipping companies can pay the necessary acquisition costs more easily than private shipping. The savings from efficiency and automation also promise higher returns. Researchers have also been interested in this, and so there are autonomous submarines that can sail under the perpetual ice of the Arctic and measure the thickness of the ice layer.

About the author:

David Fluhr is a journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He regularly reports on trends and technologies in the fields of autonomous driving, HMI, telematics and robotics. For more, visit his website: