Microsoft-OOCL partnership on digital transformation of shipping

      05/22/2018

The new venture between Microsoft's Asian research arm and the Chinese international container transportation, logistics and terminal company, ism set to be big. The projects will utilize the resources of over 200 artificial intelligence developers across a twelve month period. Given that shipping network operations involve multiple parties and variables, many of which can change at any moment, embracing artificial intelligence can help to cope with these changes.

OOCL has clearly stated that it regards artificial intelligence as essential to business success and as the centerpiece of its digital transformation vision. The company already has over one thousand developers, based in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Manila, working on digital solutions for its global shipping business.

The digital transformation of shipping can enable the effective collection, storage, exchange, analysis and use of data, while also contributing to improved data quality plus sensor reliability. For improved sensors, the networking of vessels and ports is required, and this entails the activities retrofitting with high-performance digital infrastructure, glass-fiber data cables and the G5 mobile radio standard.

As an example of the vision, OOCL introduced machine learning a few years ago and it is using a hybrid cloud infrastructure, with the capability of undertaking auto-switching and auto-scaling throughout its businesses divisions. Moreover, the company handles large volumes of data and undertakes big data analytics, processing over 30 million vessel data points each month.

Going forwards, the company is of the view that leveraging artificial intelligence technology and machine learning, it can develop predictive analytics to be used to assess vessel schedules and to improve berth activities. OOCL says it expects to save $10 million in operating costs through the partnership.

To achieve this OOCL has recognized that it needs additional expertise from Microsoft. Speaking with Port Technology, Cally Chan, who is the General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong, explains what his company is bringing: “Microsoft has been committed in providing cutting-edge AI solutions for companies across different industries to help drive digital transformation."

He adds: "With our Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge vision, we are partnering with selected top customers worldwide to accelerate the adoption of AI innovations into products and solutions that can be applied in real business contexts."