Our team of maritime connectivity experts were delighted to be published in industry trade magazine, Digital Ship, recently. Our article discussed how, as events unfolded in The Suez last month, the industry divided into those who had full visibility of their containers - on the Ever Given or stuck in the queue of some 400 vessels- and those who didn’t.
The owners of Smart Containers were able to track the location of their cargo as it idled or was rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, a 5,500-mile diversion which takes seven to 10 days longer. Visibility that enabled information on ETA to be provided back to product owners. Small consolation for those with resulting supply chain issues but reassuring to have greater insight.
Perhaps this event will do more to speed up the rollout of Smart Containers than any other. Certainly, the shipping ecosystem - led by early adopter vendors and shipping companies - has been discussing the pros and cons of global industry-wide rollouts with standardised technologies for a few years now.
According to last year’s report “Smart Container Market – Global Analysis and Forecast to 2027″ published by The Insight Partners, the global smart container market was valued at US$ 2.14 Bn in 2018 and is expected to reach US$ 11.29 Bn by 2027.
The report says that the role of smart containers is to manage the entire shipment and delivery process of goods through connectivity, cloud computing traceability, monitoring, and smart sensors” and that “demand seems to be strongest from Smart Reefer Vendors”.
The report wisely segments the market into the essential components of Smart Containers:
- Hardware which includes various sensors and antennas, IoT devices, modems, and routers deployed in smart containers.
- Software covers various smart container software solutions including remote container management.
- Services cover managed and professional services.
Always-On Reliable Connectivity
Falling into the hardware camp, and key to the success of Smart Containers, is the Internet of Things (IoT). This allows the information about the container and its contents which is gathered by sensors to be transmitted to both the crew - and remotely to the shipping line and owners of the container’s contents.
And key to the success of IoT in shipping is fast and always-on maritime connectivity which enables information sharing in real-time.
Satellite has traditionally been the connectivity tool of choice for the shipping industry. Expensive but always-on.
However, these days most maritime cellular communication networks can provide coverage up to 40km/25 miles out to sea (without a guaranteed QoS). As most vessels tend to spend their time in-port or hugging the coast, cellular can almost always be used for both voice and data.
However, the major problem with the cellular at sea approach is that multiple SIMs have been required to ensure coverage throughout the cruise. As the ship crosses borders, so the network operators will change.
With the specific goal of improving connectivity at sea, Telecom26 has a multi-pronged approach:
- Multi-IMSI global SIM cards which enable Global Roaming.
These enable one SIM to access multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances. Multiple-IMSI profiles are pre-loaded onto every SIM allowing for simple reconfiguration if the primary network has poor or no service.
Our Multi-IMSI global SIMs automatically select the best performing network in the area, cross-border, while providing users with the freedom to change SIM profiles and services with ease.
When a vessel is travelling along the coast or anchored at port, the SIMs would use the best available cellular network and switch to satellite only when absolutely necessary.
- A multi-SIM router hosting SIMs with multi-IMSI feature, enables ship-wide Wi-Fi on which crew can use their personal and business devices. No more bill shock for any of them when they return home.
The Telecom26 offering can combine both a full mobile private network at sea as well as a nearshore offering in order to provide contiguous mobile coverage at the lowest cost available.
To learn more about Telecom26’s suite of IoT maritime connectivity and maritime cellular communications services please get in touch.