Ericsson argues that the maritime industry lags behind other transport industries in its use of information and communications technology, despite the fact that ships carried an estimated total of 9.6 billion tons of cargo in 2013 – around 80 percent of global trade by volume and over 70 percent of global trade by value, and it aims to set this right.
Ericsson has introduced the Maritime ICT Cloud, billed as “an end-to-end offering that combines a managed cloud solution with industry applications, service enablement, connectivity management, and consulting and systems integration services … [that will] connect vessels at sea with shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centers, fleet/transportation partners, port operations and authorities.”
At present, says Ericsson, “ships rely on manually updated traffic, cargo, port, weather and safety information that is sent point-to-point rather than made available to all parties simultaneously via a network. This is a time-consuming process and the lack of access to real-time data significantly increases the margin for error.”
The Ericsson Maritime ICT cloud will also support services to manage fleets, monitor engines and fuel consumption, oversee routes and navigation, and ensure the wellbeing of the crew.
Ericsson says it will provide everything from satellite connections to application support in one complete package, and manage operation of the maritime ICT cloud on behalf of its customers and deliver benefits in three main categories: voyage optimisation, cargo monitoring and crew welfare.
“Fuel is the single biggest expense for any ship owner, and also a major source of emissions that are harmful to the environment,” says Ericsson. “Using engine diagnostics and up-to-the minute information about weather and traffic conditions both at sea and in ports, Maritime ICT Cloud enables ship captains to optimise their voyages to save time, fuel and money while also limiting environmental damage.”
According to Orvar Hurtig, head of industry and society at Ericsson, “Vessels at sea do have systems in place that allow them to monitor critical functions and fuel usage, set and maintain an optimal course and ensure the welfare of their crew, but they are not particularly well integrated with fleet management systems onshore and they do not maximise the potential of real-time data. “