Marine offshore is also under pressure, as the sharp decline in oil prices has changed the economics of the oil and gas industry.
At the same time, large cohorts of experienced workers are set to retire in the next 5-10 years, posing the risk of a shortage of critical skills.
The marine industry must meet these challenges in an environment shaped by three trends:
1. Global economic rebalancing will see sustained growth in south-south trade and the rising importance of Asia as both a source and destination market;
2. Natural gas will play an increasingly important role as both a shipped commodity and a fuel; and
3. Environmental regulations will become more stringent.
The answer to these challenges lies in innovation.
A new generation of digital technological advances can bring substantial benefits to the Marine sector.
Industrial Internet solutions can use data and analytics to deliver better insights on asset conditions and performance, enabling predictive maintenance and reducing nonproductive time, a major source of inefficiency and financial losses.
Digital models can simulate the performance of alternative systems configurations on a vessel in different environmental conditions. This allows substantial improvements already at the design stage, resulting in greater operational efficiency.
Industrial Internet solutions can provide better visibility on the location and performance of entire fleets, improving routing, performance, and the speed and efficiency of maintenance and repairs.
Digital solutions can also mitigate the aging workforce challenge, by allowing experienced operators in a centralized location to monitor and support multiple vessels, and making it easier for workers to share, store and access information.
Advances in user interface are critical to the effectiveness of these applications. Reaping these benefits will require investment in digital solutions and capabilities.
Business models will have to evolve towards a more data driven approach and allow a greater scope for collaboration. A high degree of interoperability will be needed to accelerate the development and deployment of efficiency-enhancing solutions.
New digital technologies will have to be safeguarded with state of the art cyber security.
Finally, the industry will have to create a robust pipeline of talent to meet the demands and opportunities of the digital era.
With these conditions in place, digital technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity to transform the Marine industry. They can substantially reduce nonproductive time in both shipping and offshore; cut fuel consumption; improve operational efficiency for individual assets and entire fleets; enable better market intelligence, planning and routing; and accelerate the development of green vessels.
Shipping vessels and offshore rigs can be made digitally intelligent right from the design phase, yielding greater efficiency and flexibility.
Digital innovation can allow the Marine industry to meet the challenges of today and position itself for better growth and margins in the decades to come.