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2024 Maritime Industry Outlook: A Q&A with Dr. Kirsi Tikka

When we think about the maritime industry over the past few years, the word “unpredictable” comes to mind. Shipping owners and operators are dealing with volatile geopolitical events, an uncertain economic future, changing weather patterns, and staffing shortages – among other issues – making it more challenging than ever to peer into a crystal ball for 2024.

However, there are also many positive changes occurring in the industry. To find out more about what 2024 likely has in store, I sat down with Dr. Kirsi Tikka, who has over 30 years of maritime leadership experience as an executive in American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Board Member at companies like, Pacific Basin Shipping, Ardmore Shipping and also as ShipIn Systems’ advisor. Here are her top predictions for the new year:

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Shipping Companies Will Continue to Embrace New Technologies

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining traction as a valuable tool in various industries. How can AI benefit the maritime industry? Are there specific use cases where AI can make a significant impact within the maritime sector?

Dr. Kirsi Tikka: I can see multiple applications for AI in the maritime industry. 

The shipping industry produces data in numerical, verbal, and visual formats, and translating this to useful information is exactly where AI can help. For example, visual information can be used for preventative maintenance, alerting unsafe working practices, and creating a safe living environment for the crew onboard. This eliminates the need for continuous streaming, or the limitation of the use of visual information only in post-event investigations.

Machine learning and AI can be used to address technical issues that are difficult to analyze and model. For example, we have sophisticated computational and analytics techniques, but modeling and forecasting ships’ performance in actual sea conditions remains a challenge. By applying machine learning, ship-specific models or digital twins can be trained to represent actual behavior and used to improve vessel performance.

Q: What challenges do you foresee in the adoption of AI in the maritime industry?

A: Shipping is a cyclical industry, and companies are cautious of investments that require long payback periods, and rightly so. This skepticism of new technologies makes it more challenging to implement, especially with existing operating models. Ship managers and crews feel often overloaded and they fear that the new products add to rather than reduce their workload.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many potential applications for AI in the maritime industry, but AI-based products must demonstrate performance improvement that provides an economic benefit. This doesn’t have to be direct for it to have a huge impact. For example, creating a safe working environment for a diverse crew onboard with the help of technology will increase performance of the crew, and providing better information sharing between the ship and shore can improve their decision-making processes and overall operations.

Meeting Sustainability Goals Requires New Technology

A: Ships are physical assets, and their sustainable operation will require existing technology upgrades as well as emerging technology. The decarbonization challenge will push for improved energy efficiency, new low or zero carbon fuels, and new propulsion solutions. Performance monitoring and integrating new propulsion sources, such as wind, with existing propulsion are examples of emerging technology applications. But new solutions can have unintended safety consequences—implementing other forms of technology can help to mitigate the risks and make compliance easier.

I do want to note that while the environmental focus today is on decarbonization, there are many other environmental aspects the industry must address in everyday operations that I think we will start to see in 2024. 

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies and practices are the foundations for sustainability. Social includes working conditions, company culture, community activities, with the major focus today on gender diversity, both onshore and onboard the ships. Governance includes compliance with laws and regulations, ethical practices, and protecting the interests of stakeholders. Sustainable companies will have to excel in all these areas and technology has an important role in managing the diverse demands on the companies.

An Evolving Regulatory Landscape Requires New Systems

Q: How do you foresee evolving maritime regulations influencing the adoption of new technologies?

A: The shipping regulatory landscape is evolving with many new regulations under development. The decarbonization regulations will have a major impact on shipping already in 2024 with Carbon Intensity Index (CII) Ratings and EU Emission Trading System (ETS) taking effect. Additional IMO regulations will start taking shape in anticipation of becoming effective after 2026. 

Shipowners will need technology that will facilitate compliance.

Improve Safety and Compliance with ShipIn

ShipIn’s FleetVision platform uses AI and computer vision to proactively alert shipowners, managers, and seafarers to onboard events in real-time. Whether you’re concerned about sustainability requirements, preventing security incidents, or looking to make your fleet more efficient in 2024, ShipIn can help.

Learn more about how ShipIn can help your fleet in 2024 > https://shipin.ai/how-shipin-works/ 

Learn more about FleetVision™

Aliya Zarei

Aliya Zarei is the Director of Marketing at ShipIn.ai, the world’s first FleetVision™ Platform, enabling seamless ship-to-shore collaboration for maritime fleets. She has over 10 years of experience in marketing communications specifically in oil and gas and tech industries. Aliya is a proud Malaysian, loves animals and a food enthusiast.

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