Digitalisation and greater automation will shape the future of shipping. The industry is make great strides in all three of these technologies, as you can read in the latest issue of Marine Electronics & Communications that is out this week, but the emphasis must be on making the industry safer.
It is no good improving efficiencies through technology adoption if safety is negatively affected.
Which is why shipowners should not be seeing these technical advances as methods of removing crew from ships or making vessels unstable due to higher cargo loadings.
Greater levels of automation can remove menial chores from seafarers lives, augment the information available and warn crew of onboard problems quicker.
Digitalisation processes can transfer onboard information to shore managers so they can provide better advice to ship masters. It can also enable sharing of voyage plan information between ships and shore.
It is down to IMO to ensure that technical developments will not have negative impacts on safety, but will reduce the risk of maritime accidents.
IMO started 2018 with positive news on safety as the Ship Design and Construction subcommittee agreed last week to improve stability computer guidance for passenger ships.
Shipping’s ruling organisation will get another chance to enhance safety through technology when the subcommittee for Navigation, Communications, Search and Rescue meets later this month.
With all this in mind, IMO needs to set regulations that encourages ship operators to use technology to improve safety, not jeopardise it.