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HMM partners with Oracle in pursuit of smart shipping

May 17,2018
Shipping companies are teaming up with tech giants to speed up the digital transformation of the industry.

Local player Hyundai Merchant Marine announced Wednesday that it has started working with California-based software company Oracle in order to move its data to the cloud.

The Korean shipper has been looking for a global tech partner from early this year to migrate its data servers to a cloud-based system, pushed by CEO Yoo Chang-keun’s special interest in tech, according to a spokesperson from the company.

Big-name cloud service operators like Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been cited as possible options for the shipper, but the spokesperson said Oracle best served the company’s interest.

The shipper is expecting to completely move all of its data to the cloud by 2020. Currently, it is designing an optimal cloud-based infrastructure with its new tech partner. Physical servers will still be used, but only to store the minimum level of data needed at the Seoul office.

Migrating to a cloud-based system can help the shipper make the most of the stored data it has collected from all its global operations. A single cloud platform is useful for employees scattered around the world, giving them full visibility of information across the company. The shipper said the cloud is also a safer and more cost-effective way to manage data than operating its own physical servers.

The two companies will also cooperate on applying Internet of Things and blockchain technology to shipping as well. IoT and blockchain technologies are being tested by global transport and logistics companies as a way to track containers and the goods in the containers in real-time, as well as sharing the collected information with all parties involved in the supply chain.

Before partnering with Oracle, the Korean shipper tested the two technologies by participating in a consortium led by IT services company Samsung SDS, which is focusing heavily on blockchain-based logistics systems, until last year. The consortium tested blockchain technology on shipments from Korea to China from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4 last year.

According to Samsung SDS, blockchain contributed to cutting down the amount of paperwork and time needed to share information between multiple parties including shipping companies, cargo owners and terminal operators.

Hyundai Merchant Marine isn’t the first shipping company to adopt a high-tech approach. Global industry leader A.P. Moller-Maersk has already started incorporating the latest technologies into its business.

In April last year, Maersk partnered with Microsoft to use the IT giant’s cloud computing services as well as its Azure cloud platform. In December, Microsoft said it moved the data from five of Maersk’s regional data centers in Europe, Asia and the United States to the cloud. More data is currently being processed.

Earlier in March, the company announced a partnership with IBM to collaborate on using blockchain technology to transform cross-border logistics. The two companies aim to get rid of all the costly and burdensome paperwork involved in the shipping supply chain while offering more secure and transparent information to relevant parties.

There are other attempts to make the shipping industry smarter.

A number of European and Japanese companies are currently researching self-navigation and unmanned driving technology for ships. The European Union is running a research project dubbed “Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks,” which aims to develop and verify a concept for autonomous ships.

In Japan, shipbuilders and shippers have teamed up to make self-navigating ships a reality by 2025, according to local media outlet Nikkei Asian Review last year. Participants include Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen. The newspaper said an artificial intelligence-driven steering system will use IoT to gather massive amounts of data at sea to plot the most fuel-efficient, safest and shortest routes.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]


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