At Singapore Maritime Week 2022, Ocean Network Express (ONE), a leading global shipping company, and Google Cloud announced a new collaboration to embed artificial intelligence (AI) across ONE’s business and advance its vision of delivering intelligent shipping innovations that support countries’ economic development and long-term growth.
Accounting for 80% of international cross-border trade, maritime transport makes globalization and modern lifestyles possible. The sector, however, faces long-standing challenges that were amplified by the pandemic and the 2021 Suez Canal blockage. These include high shipping container demand that often outpaces availability, rising costs that erode margins, manual and time-consuming processes, and keeping up with continuously evolving trade regulations.
Headquartered in Singapore, ONE owns the world’s sixth-largest container shipping fleet and offers more than 130 weekly services to 120 countries. To stay at the forefront of addressing industry-wide challenges, the company is establishing an AI Center of Excellence (CoE) that will imbue an agile culture across every aspect of its business; pilot and scale AI initiatives that boost competitive differentiation; and become a destination for top technology talent. By leveraging Google Cloud’s leading data analytics, machine learning (ML) and AI technologies, alongside advisory expertise from Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia (Deloitte) to support its journey, the AI CoE will help transform ONE’s core operations, strengthen customer engagement, and improve its employee experience.
“Whether it is delivering materials for industrial production and infrastructure construction, finished products for re-export, or food and goods to meet communities’ essential needs, global maritime transport companies like ONE form the backbone of global commerce,” said Kosuke Wada, Executive Vice President, Ocean Network Express. “We recognize that our shipping services underpin smooth economic activity and believe that we must constantly raise industry standards. ONE has therefore decided to deepen our collaboration with Google Cloud and continue working with Deloitte after their stellar support during our initial phase of digital transformation. By tapping both companies’ core competencies around AI, we can drive transformative change across our entire business, become an innovative leader in the sector, and facilitate economic benefit for people and countries worldwide.”
Intelligent Maritime Innovations Anchored by a Cloud-First Foundation
ONE’s robust digital foundation has already led to several successful AI pilot projects. After migrating its mission-critical SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) and finance systems onto Google Cloud’s secure, scalable, and enterprise-grade infrastructure, ONE has now layered on ML models that intelligently organize the company’s engagement history with its customers. This further streamlines back-office processes and enables ONE staff to respond more quickly to customers.
“ONE’s AI CoE will marshal the right resources and talent that’s needed for scalable operations and sustainable growth,” said Chris Lewin, Executive Director, Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia. “By automating manual tasks to increase workforce productivity and employee satisfaction, while reducing IT and data management complexity so software engineers and data scientists can focus on innovation, ONE can now intensify the development of next-generation, world-class shipping services that bring lasting value to its business. It is a privilege to provide AI advisory services to a visionary client like ONE, to help the company build up its AI capabilities and continue its digital transformation momentum.”
ONE’s internal Virtual Assistant chatbot is another example of a successful AI pilot project. Integrated with Google Workspace and accessible via Google Chat, the chatbot automates employees’ queries regarding policies and processes to ease the workload of various internal business functions – all while Google Cloud’s secure-by-design infrastructure and end-to-end encryption maintains data governance and security controls. By using Google Cloud’s advanced natural language understanding technology and pre-built virtual agents, ONE brought this chatbot to life within weeks and avoided having to dedicate significantly more time and resources to build underlying ML frameworks from scratch.
For industry players to stay ahead of unprecedented spikes in demand for container shipping, logistical efficiencies have become table stakes. By combining Google Cloud’s serverless computing, intelligent data lake, and Vertex AI technologies, as well as deploying AI platform pipelines based on MLOps best practices, ONE has successfully infused predictive capabilities – which can be managed by lean and agile teams – into its logistics planning processes to ensure operating precision.
“With at least 11 billion tons of goods transported by sea each year, ONE’s AI transformation not only future-proofs its operations and positions the company as an employer of choice, but also sets the benchmark for the creation of even more smart, efficient, and scalable digital solutions that are needed to meet the ever-growing demands of businesses and economies around the world,” said Ruma Balasubramanian, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Google Cloud. “We are thrilled that ONE has continued to choose Google Cloud as its co-innovation partner, as it spearheads a sea change across the maritime transport industry, and demonstrates the accelerated and measurable impact that a cloud-first and unified data strategy can help deliver.”
Source: Hellenic Shipping News