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6 Amazing Innovations That Are Transforming the Shipping Industry

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Shipping is a vital part of any economy. As the world becomes more integrated, its transport networks have also had to become more robust and flexible. The shipping industry, especially in the United States, has seen dramatic changes in the last decade. And according to experts, it still has a ways to go.

History of Shipping Transportation

The history of shipping and its technological developments are closely tied to trade history, from the early civilizations through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution.

The transportation of goods by sea was critical to the development of the Ancient Mediterranean civilization. The Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, and the Greeks all engaged in it. In fact, the sea-based trade was so important that the word “commerce” is derived from “commere” which means to travel for commerce. In the early times, ropes were one of the most critical things used in the shipping industry. The rope has been used as a tool to load and unload ships and used for attaching anchors to boats and mooring lines to docks. The first ropes were made from natural resources such as palm and olive tree fibers, but they were expensive to produce and hard to maintain. These ropes would often rot or burn at high temperatures and could not be found in sufficient quantity to meet demand. That’s why HMPE Ropes are being used now.

As sea transportation declined in the 20th century, the industry has become more focused on transporting goods by air and truck (see containerization). Transporting goods by ship is more complicated than other forms of transport. The shipping industry faces several issues because ships are sensitive to weather and must often carry unusual cargo. Ship shapes are generally dictated by hydrodynamics, principally from stability & structures associated with propulsion and buoyancy. Ships must withstand both high external pressure from wind and waves and internal pressure from the buoyancy of their hulls, cargo gear, etc. Marine transport is not for the faint-hearted because it involves a lot of planning before undertaking it.

Advancement in the Shipping Industry

Till a few years ago, shipping was an industry that was wary of new technologies as it felt that these would only bring in more competition and increase operating costs. But now, it has started to adopt new technologies fast and furiously. 

With the advancement in software technology, many applications such as ERP, CRM, and WMS have been created to facilitate the movement of goods. These applications provide tracking and tracing, customs clearance, and documentation management to various shipping stakeholders. The introduction of cloud computing has made it possible to efficiently connect all the supply chain stakeholders. This helps in quickly sharing information and documents related to shipment between players involved in the process.

Here’s a look at some of the technologies that are changing the face of shipping:

Global Positioning System (GPS).

As you know, GPS is instrumental to your smartphone’s ability to pinpoint its location on earth with accuracy. Many shipping companies have now started using GPS for charting their ships’ location and speed. This helps them save time and money as charts used to be updated manually before GPS was introduced.


When combined with GPS, NaviRadar can transmit ship-specific data such as speed and direction from its present location to all other vessels nearby. This information allows ships near each other to avoid a collision.

Ship Data Recorder (SDR). 

Another advancement that has been instrumental in improving safety standards in shipping is Ship Data Recorder (SDR). SDR is a device that records data during the course of a voyage. The SDR captures and stores data on the daily operation of the ship, such as fuel consumption, speed, position, and engine activity. The SDR is connected to sensors throughout the ship, including the engine room and bilge pumps. All of this data is transmitted in real-time via satellite back to shore, where it is stored for analysis.

ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning)

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are computer-based integrated software applications used by organizations to help manage their resources throughout the supply chain. In short, ERP enables organizations to plan and automate business processes involved in the production, distribution, servicing, and support of products. ERP is used by almost every company worldwide in practically every type of industry. There are solutions and software that fit every niche from construction and healthcare ERP to manufacturing and seafood ERP solutions.

With the help of an ERP, logistics managers can better track shipments, which in turn helps them make more informed decisions about whether to reroute their cargo or employ other strategies for getting goods from point A to point B. They can also minimize costs and inventory by knowing exactly what they have in stock at all times. In addition, ERPs are useful for finding the most efficient routes for shipments and tracking where a company’s vehicles are at any given time.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

The application of blockchain technology has been proposed to improve efficiency in areas such as shipping and logistics by providing a secure online ledger that can be used as an auditing tool. CRMs can be used as a digital ledger to validate transactions based on immutable records. The immutability factor of the blockchain makes it ideal for use in shipping logistics. The transactions within the blockchain are recorded and encrypted, making it impossible to alter or tamper with the data stored within it. This can reduce fraud and corruption embedded within this sector in many ways, including the sharing of authentic data with all relevant parties involved, which reduces information asymmetry.

The introduction of CRM technology helps eliminate duplication and fragmentation by creating a platform on which all parties involved in the process can share data in real-time. For example, a vessel may be carrying five different consignments from five different shippers. With CRM technology, all entities involved (customs authorities, port officials, transporters) will have access to pertinent information about the shipment.

WMS (Warehouse Management Systems)

In the shipping industry, the WMS software is the backbone of all operations in a distribution center. It controls where products are stored and how they are shipped to customers. In addition, it allows for tracking routes, inventory, and orders. For this reason, a WMS system is critical to efficient shipping because it reduces errors and speeds up delivery times.

The software is similar to other types of software used in warehouses and factories; however, the shipping industry requires that it be customized for their particular needs. A WMS system must be able to handle unique problems such as weather conditions that may affect shipments or a large number of shipments that need to arrive on time for holidays.


The use of technology in the shipping industry is in a state of transition. All in all, the purpose of technological changes and upgrades is to improve efficiency across all facets of the shipping trade. The question is, how much will your business be able to benefit from these technological advances? I’d love to hear what you think about this. Leave a comment below!

Credits To The Author

Master Gunnery Sergeant Sean Brownlee is a Special Operations Marine with over 22 years of continuous service. He is still active in the Marine Corps to this day and supports national readiness through the DOD and non-profits. With a desire to serve his country outside of the military he formed Ravenox to create jobs, bring manufacturing back to America, and help American companies grow and stay relevant in the 21st century. It all started with rope – something very familiar. With years of experience rappelling, fast-roping from helicopters, SPIE rigging, parachuting, and understanding how important it is to have only the best ropes and cords, Ravenox started on its’ way as a manufacturer, direct-to-consumer retailer of custom ropes and cords