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International Forwarding Association Blog » Sea freight in Europe » Emerging Technologies and Innovations in Shipping

Emerging Technologies and Innovations in Shipping

Shortage of expert workforce, environmental regulations, demand and supply imbalances, and supply chain bottlenecks are some of the main challenges facing the shipping industry. Emerging innovations and trends help reduce the negative impact on carriers and forwarders.

Blockchain, robotics and automation, the Internet of Things, big data and analytics, and artificial intelligence are successfully integrated in different segments to improve safety and efficiency.

Also, cybersecurity and 5G, mixed reality, and augmented and virtual reality are paired up with data-sensitive technologies to minimize safety risks and ensure continuous operations and robust functioning.


Maritime Operations


There are numerous applications for artificial intelligence in the maritime industry, including route optimization, autonomous navigation, and predictive maintenance. AI-enabled technologies are used to process vast amounts of data through asset tracking, public information systems, and sensors, offering valuable insights. This data can be used to reduce operational costs, optimize maintenance and fuel consumption, and enhance forecast accuracy.

Analytics and Big Data

Weather forecasting and route optimization rely on satellites and IoT devices. Data collected and processed by connected devices provides insights for ports and ships. Among the multiple applications of connected devices are operational analytics, freight pattern analysis, and route management.

Mixed and Augmented Reality

In addition to maritime training and education, mixed and augmented reality are used in ship design and engineering, inspection and maintenance, and the remote operation of submarines and boats. 5G at sea generates a high-speed, low-latency network that facilitates operations in smart ports, improves renewable asset monitoring and aquaculture management, and aids rescue and search operations.



Automated Picking

There is a wide variety of automated picking tools that can improve warehousing logistics, including pick-to-light, robot order picking, and voice automated order picking. These advanced tools feature new-gen barcoding options, enabling them to integrate with various software management platforms and ensuring reliable, accurate, and fast reporting.

Warehouse Management Systems

Warehouse management systems consist of processes and software that enable operators to monitor and administer operations, thus ensuring inventory is tracked, sorted, stored, and shipped properly. WMS are mainly used for labor management, receiving and shipping, inventory tracking, and order fulfillment and picking. Such systems are often integrated or used with inventory and transportation management systems and enterprise resource planning. Transportation management systems aid carrier, mode and route optimization and freight management. Enterprise resource planning systems are used for inventory and order management, invoicing, and accounting.

Automated Guided Vehicles

Automated guided vehicles are increasingly used in warehousing because they yield a better ROI and are generally safer than manual labor. AGVs can be used for container and roll handling, trailer loading, and finished product and pallet handling. Automated guided vehicles are used across various industries, including hospitals, food and beverage, and paper and print. They are also used in automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing.

Other advanced technologies that can be integrated in warehousing operations include automated storage and retrieval systems, cobots or collaborative robots, and automated inventory control platforms.