The COVID-19 virus has cast a dark shadow on our lives and industries. However, there are some silver linings in the way industries have been able to quickly implement new technologies to mitigate the damage caused by the global pandemic. In pre-COVID-19 conditions, millions of workers support the intricate movement of parts and processes to ensure a smooth operation for our products and raw materials. Victor Restis, president of Enterprises Shipping & Trade S.A., says that although the maritime trade industry is full of traditional practices, it has embraced technological advances at lightning speed to help support supply chain operations during the pandemic and digital innovations are leading the industry into a new era.
One technology being implemented quickly is Virtual reality (V.R.)V.R. is being implemented across many different operational touchpoints, from crew entertainment to human resource professional development programs. This is particularly important when it comes to crew safety. Restis points out that one of the most significant risks to a failing supply chain is the health of the human resources needed to keep it moving. V.R.provides the ability to enhance onboard crew safety with cyborg technologies. Wearable V.R. technology can be used to monitor heart rates, track sleep patterns, and monitor steps or sugar levels in real-time. Depending on the health make-up of a particular crew member, V.R. technology can be used to ensure the health and wellbeing of onboard crew members by optimizing their daily health and exercise requirements.
From a human resources standpoint, E-learning is another digital innovation being used to increase proficiency in global maritime staff. With more than 2 million seafarers and operational personnel, training is a critical component, and a curriculum of continuing education keeps staff current on industry practices and educates them on the changing political and environmental landscapes of various countries for where they work and travel. Human resource officers are implementing effective online training methods at a rapid rate bringing significant value for the company and the employee. Online training solutions make the processes more accessible, faster, and more cost-effective while keeping staff current on all work-based practices. Additionally, new-age digital solutions such as virtual equipment simulation, 3D animated marine safety videos allow seafarers to remain at sea longer while maintaining improved skill development and healthcare monitoring.
Another area where digital technology is being implemented at a rapid pace is Cyber Security. This is arguably one of the most critical digital advancements of this new age and plays an essential role in protecting the global maritime industry. Preventing cyberattacks onboard large cargo vessels and even throughout the warehouses and drayage shipping sector is critical, especially given an industry that transports 90 percent of the world’s products and raw materials. Assessing risk potential and patterns helps develop protectionary measures and contingency plans to neutralize these risks when, or if, they arise.
According to Restis, global shipping and trade are the vital backbones of the worldwide economy. Implementing digital innovations and technology at a faster pace will increase crew safety and proficiency, delivery time, and overall efficiency. Digital technology was moving at an impressive speed prior to the global pandemic. Now it seems to have been placed in hyperdrive. Around the world, it’s definitely in the best interest of companies and enterprises to explore and invest in these technological advancements.