A special note from Arthur Bowring, Former Managing Director at HKSOA
Change has always been a part of the human existence, and while there are some who would resist any change, people in general have become remarkably adapt at accepting and adjusting to change. The maritime world is not remote from the effects of change; in fact, our industry would appear to be going through amazingly rapid and unprecedented change in many different areas. The regulatory changes presently driving our industry are now well understood, although being more political than practical so not entirely accepted, but there are other areas that we would do well not to ignore.
We must not forget the rapid changes already being brought about by the technological revolution. While we still have some way to go to bring human-centered design into the operation of shipboard equipment, increased bandwidth has made remote monitoring of ship’s performance and maintenance increasingly possible. But what effect does such remote monitoring have on our seafarers’ health, as the ever-watchful eye in head office reduces the authority of those on board ship? And are our seafarers being trained for increased automation and technological change? Perhaps more worryingly, are seafarers destined only to work on ships to maintain the equipment, or will the equipment be fitted to assist the seafarers? Will fully autonomous ships reduce the need for seamanship, and by reducing such need effectively eliminate the knowledge and understanding of seamanship, gained over the past few millennia?
In addition, we are starting to experience the emergence of technologically advanced supply chain companies treating ships as assets in their supply chain, much the same as they would with delivery trucks. Is our industry ready to work with these companies, or is it possible that our industry is destined to be submerged by their technological disruption?
‘Future of Maritime’ will be an essential conference to discuss these important and very relevant issues.