This very interesting article highlights commentary by Greek shipping magnate, Victor Restis, and the future of international cargo shipping and trade. The article outlines how emerging technologies are shaping the industry’s future. We are very well aware that technology enhances our everyday lives. Each industry in the world is in a constant race to use the latest technologies to improve systems and reduce costs. This is no different for the global supply chain.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are of great interest for this industry. These technologies seem to have the most integrative effect on how supply chains are strengthened. VR and AR technologies are being used today in the medical field for digital imaging and to enhance surgical procedures, and in large system process to fuel efficiency. It makes sense to apply those technologies to the global supply chain. Restis talks about this technology being used to keep the crew safe by monitoring health and wellness. This is a very plausible application given the more than two million seafarers and industry personnel helping facilitate how product travels from manufacturing to our store shelves. All investments in crew health and wellness is warranted and critical to maintaining the strength and dependence of the global supply chain.
Any threat to our supply chain is a threat to our livelihoods and way of living. As a society, we cannot afford any break in the flow of supplies, whether it be hand sanitizer, toilet paper, or food and water. Imagine the chaos if we were running low on food? What would society look like with a food shortage? How would it react? Would society break down into looting, rioting, and mass civil unrest? We saw hoarders selling small bottles of hand sanitizer for extortionist amounts. Imagine that same scenario with food.
Which brings me to threats of cyberattacks, also commented on in the article. Like any other industry, international shipping and trade experiences its share of attempted cyber-attacks. I suppose there are system and cargo inventory manifests that can be stolen (and then shared with Somali pirates?). Could hackers take control of entire vessels or the main systems on board? Imagine if these large cargo vessels were autonomous? Could a hacker take control of a ship and navigate it away from its intended destination?
There are many risks at play that the global supply chain and shipping industry need to watch and prepare. Thankfully, executives like Mr. Restis are implementing technology when and where applicable.