In recent months, COVID-19 has put incredible pressure on global supply chains. But it’s not just the pandemic that is causing unforeseen pressure on the UK supply chain. We have an ageing infrastructure, a chronic HGV driver shortage, record-high prices and record low space availability on sea freight options, new rules in trading with the EU, and in addition, a UK-wide shortage of warehousing capacity. While we have had to stay at home, online shopping has peaked and an increasing amount of goods have been transported across the globe. According to UNCTAD, maritime logistics represents 90 percent of the world supply chain. Therefore, ports are an integral part of global trade. Ensuring uninterrupted supply The global freight market is under extreme pressure at the moment, and port congestion results in container vessel delays which might lead to demurrage charges for cargo owners. These are genuinely unprecedented times, requiring decision makers across a wide variety of sectors to think hard and think differently when it comes to ensuring uninterrupted supply throughout peak season and beyond. A multi-modal approach can meet the client’s needs in the best way allowing them to react to change A multi-modal approach can meet the client’s needs in the best way allowing them to react to change and automatically make amends to the plan, in accordance with the issues being faced. However, end-to-end supply chains rely on assets and you’re only as robust as the amount of ships and/or operators involved. The industry has faced many challenges with Brexit, Christmas, COVID-19 and the Suez Canal and although some can be seen as isolated incidents, they have happened and they will again. Improving any breakdowns It’s difficult to prepare for the unknown and when it might happen but I think operators have a great way of gathering the data following these events and use it to improve any breakdowns in the chain in preparation for if there’s a next time. As a result of the pandemic, shipping companies took ships out of the sea due to reduced demand but it’s interesting that demand is now increasing and yet the numbers of ships back out at sea hasn’t increased alongside. The cost of using ships has rocketed - one customer importing from Japan used to pay £900 per container, now it’s £7,000 and even £14,000 from China. Port-centric warehousing We really need everyone working together to benefit all parties - it’s very one-sided at the moment So, we’re seeing prices remaining high with fewer ships operating - what incentive do operators have to get more ships back out onto the water and get back to where they were, when their income is healthy with reduced numbers? We really need everyone working together to benefit all parties - it’s very one-sided at the moment but I understand that companies could be remaining cautious with a fast return to pre-COVID while the pandemic is still impacting life. Looking ahead, I think autonomy is going to be huge and we’ll see the reliance on trained operatives being removed. Autonomous shipping is already being trialled and of course, the capabilities of drones is only going to improve in the future. Whilst there is no silver bullet for the combination of complex challenges we face, one suggested approach is to put port-centric warehousing at the heart of your UK distribution strategy. National rail infrastructure The port-centric model is very simple. Rather than transporting your goods hundreds of miles inland to primary distribution centres, the storage facilities are located close to, or within key ports. By doing so, you take costly, time-consuming links out of the supply chain, replacing them with seamless, simple solutions from ship to doorstep. Another option to consider, which again takes links out of the supply chain, is to utilise the rail network within the port for onward transportation. We’re fortunate at Solent Gateway to offer a dedicated rail link which is connected to the national rail infrastructure and can provide a direct route for freight whilst reducing traffic on the roads. At Solent Gateway, we are committed to solving customers’ supply chain challenges and support businesses that seek facilitation of logistics hubs, business parks, storage, sea to rail, sea to road, automobile, project cargo, general cargo, dry bulk and break bulk.
If the ocean were a national economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world. Contributions of the oceans to energy production, transport and sustainable food production are essential to the global economy. In the global ‘blue economy,’ environmental protection and economic growth are intrinsically linked, especially in the maritime industry. The European Union has detailed a realistic agenda for the blue economy to play a major role to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, seeking to replace unchecked expansion with clean, climate-proof and sustainable activities that tread lightly on the marine environment. Preserving marine ecosystems “A sustainable blue economy will create tangible opportunities for new jobs and businesses,” says a European Commission report. “They will be created by work to mitigate the impacts on oceans and coasts to build a resilient economic model based on innovation, a circular economy and a respectful attitude to the ocean.” Businesses that use or generate renewable resources, preserve marine ecosystems, reduce pollution and increase resilience to climate change will be incentivised, while others will need to reduce their environmental footprint. A sustainable blue economy offers many solutions to achieve European Green Deal objectives A sustainable blue economy offers many solutions to achieve European Green Deal objectives. Many of the current activities need to reduce their carbon footprint, while new, carbon-neutral activities need to take centre stage. The blue economy can contribute to carbon neutrality by developing offshore renewable energy and by greening maritime transport and ports. Greenhouse gas emissions The European Green Deal calls for a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from all modes of transport, and this includes maritime transport. The world’s sea lanes are a key link to the global trading system. Though it generates comparatively fewer emissions than transport by road or air, maritime transport generates both carbon and other polluting emissions due to the volumes and a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. To support the decarbonisation and depollution of energy production, maritime transport and ports, the European Commission will create a Blue Forum for users of the sea to coordinate a dialogue among offshore operators, stakeholders and scientists engaged in fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, renewable energy and other activities. It will develop synergies between their activities and reconcile competing uses of the sea. Greening port services The blue economy can help alleviate pressure on the climate and on natural resources for food production It will also pursue the objective of zero-emission ports, including through its work with the sustainable ports sub-group of the European Ports Forum, to discuss with relevant stakeholders and share and promote best practices and bottom-up initiatives in greening port services. Biodiversity conservation and protection should be considered as foundational principles of maritime economic activity. By using marine resources better and by choosing alternative sources of food and feed, the blue economy can help alleviate pressure on the climate and on natural resources for food production. Better knowledge of the ocean and its ecosystems, together with free access to data, will enable industry, public authorities and civil society to make informed decisions. Sharing marine data Through common standards and open access principles, the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) collates the measurements of hundreds of institutions to make the EU a model of best practice in sharing marine data and ocean observations. The Copernicus marine environment service provides satellite data and forecasting services in the EU sea basins and in the world. Since 2018, the blue economy report has mapped the blue economy in the EU Work is ongoing to improve the digitalisation of the ocean, the resolution and usability of the data and to transform this data into knowledge and tools for the benefit of a range of stakeholders. Socio-economic data are important inputs for policymakers and for businesses, who have to make snap decisions in a rapidly evolving environment, especially in times of crisis. Since 2018, the blue economy report has mapped the blue economy in the EU. Marine biological resources A user-friendly blue economy indicators tool tracks economic progress. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Blue Bioeconomy Report have collected, curated and disseminated data on the fishery and aquaculture markets and on innovative uses of marine biological resources. The commission proposes a maritime policy for this decade that will make the transition envisioned in the European Green Deal a reality in the ocean economy. The Commission will work with the European Parliament, the Council and other EU Institutions, where appropriate. It will reach out to all maritime stakeholders to engage with them in shaping a sustainable blue economy in a fair and equitable way.
Shipment of goods around the world has continued throughout COVID-19, but the pandemic has afforded unprecedented challenges to the maritime industry. When the pandemic necessitated health restrictions and limited international travel, the impact on crew change practices was monumental. More than a million seafarers work in demanding conditions to support 80% of world trade. Crews were trapped on board vessels for months and months, unable to return home and extending their tours of duty indefinitely. Especially impacted were major crew change port countries in Asia where the majority of seafarers reside. Protective health measures Seafarers are facing extended tours of duty and high levels of fatigue that could lead to a serious accident More than 18 months into the pandemic, the ongoing crew change crisis appears as intractable as the disease itself. Seafarers are facing extended tours of duty and high levels of fatigue that could lead to a serious accident. Thousands have been left stranded on ships beyond the terms of their contracts. If the crisis has an impact on safety, ships may be unable to continue operations, which could threaten the global supply chain. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued a Framework of Protocols for crew change, recently updated, including recommendations such as designating marine personnel as ‘key workers,’ exempting them from travel restrictions, simplifying requirements for identity documents and approvals, implementing screening procedures, and providing basic protective health measures against COVID-19. Key maritime hubs Recognising a shared responsibility to resolve the crew change crisis, more than 800 companies and organisations have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change. The declaration’s action points include recognising seafarers as key workers, implementing ‘gold standard’ health protocols, and ensuring air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers. The declaration also promotes more collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew change. The declaration’s action points include recognising seafarers as key workers Data from the 10 largest ship managers reflects a 50% increase between May and July 2021 in the proportion of seafarers onboard vessels beyond their contract expiry. The fast-spreading Delta variant has aggravated the problem, and a report for July suggests the problem is getting worse. The Maritime Labour Convention says the maximum continuous period a seafarer should serve on board a vessel without leave is 11 months. Crew change crisis However, the number of seafarers aboard vessels beyond their contract expiry has risen recently from 5.8% to 8.8%. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) estimates that more than 300,000 seafarers have extended their working periods on board due to delay in connection of their relief. Factors aggravating the crew change crisis include: There are many stakeholders with shared responsibilities that must be addressed. Collaboration and transparent sharing of information are needed to solve the problem. Working together is the only path to a solution. Lack of vaccine availability. Seafarers in developing countries do not have access to vaccines. Large seafarer nations such as the Philippines are reporting vaccine shortages. Priority access to vaccines is a critical factor in resolving the crew change crisis. Continuing high infection rates and domestic lockdowns. Given the Delta variant and other factors, it is clear the pandemic is far from over. Supply chain demands The crew change crisis has gone on for a year and a half, with the highest cost falling on seafarers, their health, and their families’ wellbeing. The importance of maintaining the global supply chain demands that the industry, the biggest ports and the key shipping transit points around the globe work collectively to address the lingering challenges of the crew change crisis.
The Mayflower departed from Plymouth, United Kingdom, this June with the intent of retracing the route of its famous historical namesake. The difference is that, in the case of the modern Mayflower, there was nobody on board the vessel, which operates autonomously. The vessel is able to assess the current environment, identify and avoid hazards, and maintain situational awareness using the ship’s edge computing technology. The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) is a project of the marine research non-profit ProMare, incorporating IBM automation software. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and solar energy, providing a platform to enable deeper understanding of issues such as climate change, ocean plastic pollution, and conserving marine mammals. Complex computer technologies The initial voyage of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship came to an end three days later when a mechanical problem developed with the ship’s generator. Over the course of the journey, MAS400 cruised at an average speed of 7 knots and covered 450 nautical miles in a west-southwest direction, according to ProMare. Plans are for MAS400 to return to the water and resume tests and long-range trials within weeks Ironically, it was a hardware component that ended the trip and not directly related to the complex computer technologies that enable the vessel to operate autonomously. Plans are for MAS400 to return to the water and resume tests and long-range trials within weeks. The innovation that drives the MAS400 project is also enabling a worldwide trend toward autonomous shipping technologies, which are poised to revolutionize the trade sector by increasing sustainability and minimizing vessel collision. Remotely controlled ships When discussing automation in the maritime sector, it is useful to consider the various degrees of autonomy. In addition to the traditional ‘manned’ approach, an automated ship might run pre-programmed software to analyse conditions. Alternatively, a fully autonomous ship can analyse data to calculate the consequences and risks and make independent decisions. The transition from manned to fully autonomous is likely to occur in degrees in the coming years. At the first stage, ships may be equipped with automated processes and support for human decision-making. More automation helps to reduce mental workload for the crews and increase their productivity. At the next level, remotely controlled ships may be deployed with crews on board. The crews could ensure safety of entering and departing a port, with the ocean passage more automated. Collision avoidance methods The crews may be eliminated, and the ships operated completely by remote control Alternately, the crews may be eliminated, and the ships operated completely by remote control. The final stage is fully autonomous ships, which include the ability to determine actions and make decisions independently. Advantages of autonomous shipping include less possibility for human error, lower crew costs, safer treatment of aquatic life, and better fuel efficiency. Current collision avoidance methods do not adequately compensate for human error, which would not be a problem with broader adoption of autonomous ships. On-board computer systems can deploy AI and machine learning to collect and crunch data on position, speed and route to more accurately address the risk of collision. Collision avoidance systems have been developed by companies such as Orca AI and Fujitsu Laboratories. Monitoring fleet movements The degree of autonomy will vary based on the types of trade and trading patterns Implementing the technology will require a large capital investment, both in the ships themselves and in onshore operations centres to monitor fleet movements. With no crew at all on board, maintenance issues of moving parts will be a challenge on long voyages. Desirability of autonomy varies by the application. For example, a small inland and coastal craft might be more easily automated than a large trans-Atlantic container ship. How soon will autonomous ships be the norm? It is likely to be within the next several years. For example, the Yara Birkeland is an inland electric container ship that is likely to be fully autonomous by 2022. Broadly speaking, the degree of autonomy will vary based on the types of trade and trading patterns. Looking long-term, there is a need for an in-depth cost and benefit analysis of the technology, which will pave the way for broader adoption.
The cruise ship industry has cracked the code on keeping passengers and crew safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, including changes to on-board HVAC systems, to use more outside air and to filter out particles as small as the novel coronavirus. The industry, which voluntarily suspended worldwide operations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, under the guidance of international and national health authorities, plans to resume worldwide operations fully later in 2021. Health protocols to mitigate COVID-19 risk The cruise ship industry resumed sailing in parts of Europe, Asia and South Pacific in July 2020 The cruise ship industry resumed sailing in parts of Europe, Asia and South Pacific in July 2020 and completed more than 200 sailings by the end of 2020. The success of these early sailings demonstrated the effectiveness of new protocols to mitigate risk of COVID-19 among passengers, crews and at destinations. The industry will resume operation in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and elsewhere in 2021. Cruise operators, such as Royal Caribbean, have implemented new HVAC systems as part of the protocols. Royal Caribbean's HVAC system for 100% filtered air Royal Caribbean says its HVAC system now continuously supplies 100% fresh and filtered air from outdoors to all indoor spaces. There is a total air change up to 12 times an hour in staterooms and about 15 changes per hour in large public spaces. Fan coil units provide an extra layer of protection in local spaces, such as public venues and staterooms, continuously scrubbing the air of pathogens and using MERV 13 filters to capture aerosols between 1.0 and 3.0 microns with 90% efficacy. Bio-aerosol assessment study Royal Caribbean participated in a bio-aerosol assessment of its ‘Oasis of the Seas’ ship by the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The study involved releasing billions of 1-micron aerosol-sized microspheres, each containing a uniquely DNA-barcoded inert virus surrogate, at pre-selected spaces throughout the ship. The test was intended to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the vessel’s indoor air management strategies and to understand spread of aerosols through the HVAC system. Low risk of cross-contamination of air Testing results led to minimal changes, such as ensuring air exchanges are close to hospital standards and using MERV 13 filters Over a week aboard the Oasis of the Seas, scientists released billions of the individually tagged microspheres and then tracked where they went and how long they lingered in the air, and on surfaces. Testing results led to minimal changes, such as ensuring air exchanges are close to hospital standards and using MERV 13 filters. The study confirmed that cross-contamination of air between adjacent public spaces is extremely low and undetectable in most test cases. Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Center determined seven important elements the cruise line can do to manage indoor air and keep it clean. These elements include: Enhanced filtration to the highest level possible Optimise airflow patterns Use negative pressurisation in isolation rooms Minimise unfiltered, re-circulated air Increase number of air changes per hour Use portable HEPA filters in congregate areas Maximise outdoor functions and physical distancing return to operation of cruise ships At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, between March 1 and July 10, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered nearly 3,000 cases of COVID -19 or suspected COVID-19 infections and 34 deaths across 123 cruise ships. In October 2020, the CDC lifted its no-sail order, laying out guidelines for big-ship cruising to resume operations in U.S. waters. The Cruise Lines International Association (CIA), which represents 95% of the cruise ship industry, has said its members will return when the time is right and that timing will be based on factors, including input from scientists and medical experts. Cruise companies also have new technologies available to them now. For example, the Italian company, Integra provides an air sanitizer that uses an odorless disinfectant to combat airborne illnesses. It can be installed in 15 minutes.