Free Article: Take five - Industry 5.0 and us

30 Apr 2024 Seaways

The increasing sophistication of technology has the potential to transform the maritime sector, but any development must make sense for the users. It must make operating vessels safer and more efficient without increasing the workload

Jaquelyn Burton AFNI, Nautical Institute Automation Technical Advisory Group

The technology that supports everyday life is rapidly changing. New perspectives on how technology drives industrial revolutions and how they may evolve or should evolve are being introduced by governments, technologists, lobbyists, political parties, unions, intergovernmental, and international organizations. Among other things, we hear that the next revolution should serve social justice as a ‘Just Transition’ and not displace worker skills, that the next shift should reach all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, that it should be a zero carbon revolution. Only in the last four years has the need for human-centred, resilient, sustainable development been articulated as Industry 5.0.  

Industrial advancements ashore have always affected the maritime world, linking developments in finance for vessel investment and maritime economics to social and other drivers. As a mariner looking at this developing landscape of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), especially after the launch and rapid uptake of AI systems in consumer technology such as ChatGPT, you may have become curious about how technology will affect your future work. With so many advocating in varying directions, where does this leave mariners? 

Much has been written about digitalisation and Industry 4.0 over the past decade, and how it would change everything about the maritime world.

"However, with the ever-increasing need for data and so much reliance on mariners manually entering data and scanning documents, digitalisation, as it is currently implemented, seems less revolutionary than evolutionary."

Looking at the developing technology and the landscape of digital services available to our sector, it is clear there's still a long road ahead to realise significant value gains both for the crew on board and for the shoreside to improve safety, sustainability, and resilience. 

Will this be another ECDIS moment? Welcomed for its enormous potential to improve safe operations and reduce workload, it proved disappointing in the introduction, with first iterations very cumbersome to use and challenging to perform the best practices of passage planning. Instead of saving time, it took two or three times longer to do the passage plan and draw all the notes, no-go areas, and other user objects required to execute and evaluate a voyage safely. As an industry, we must work together to avoid this scenario happening again as these technologies move from shore to ship. We need to ensure that any development makes sense in our industry and makes our work safer and more efficient without increasing the burden of performing our work of operating the vessels.  

Looking astern  

The progression of the maritime world through various technological ages reflects the evolution of global commerce, naval power, and maritime culture. Each age marks a significant shift in how vessels were powered, managed, and integrated into more expansive systems of trade and sea power, influencing everything from global exploration to the dynamics of global supply chains. Building ahead, we also need to look astern to the past development of the maritime world and the operational changes that resulted, in order to fully understand the significance of the Age of Human-system resilience, which is just starting now under the ideas of Industry and Maritime 5.0. 

The adoption of technology over time has dramatically impacted global trade, naval strength, and how people connect. Each period marks significant changes in how ships are powered and used, shaping everything from the exploration of new routes to how goods are moved across oceans today. 

The Age of Sail and the beginning of regular ocean crossings led into the Age of Steam, where vessels no longer needed the trade winds. They were less dependent on seasonality and were able to keep regular schedules for the first time. Then came the Age of Motors, with ships using engines powered by fuel oils, making them more efficient and less labour intensive, and allowing more cargo space with a reduced fuel volume. 

By the late 20th century, the Age of Scale and Connectivity began. This era made a huge difference in how goods are shipped worldwide thanks to the invention of container ships, and improvement in building practices resulting in vessels that were larger and more hydrodynamically efficient. For the first time, vessels also had specialised sensors like radar and automation to control the engines and steering.  

Today, we are coming towards the end of this age. We are seeing the introduction of more and more sensors, processes, and systems, combined with improvements in connectivity. These recent technical offerings and services promise to improve ship operations and efficiency, but often, they require more work from the crew with each introduction, to check, troubleshoot, input data, and make decisions about the information the system is provided. Concerns around the impact of these changes lead us to appreciate the importance of human-centric principles, usability and the establishment of systems of systems. If adopted, these will bring us into the next maritime age: the Age of Human-System Resilience.  

Technology and human skills come together in this era to make shipping safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly. We can use automation, artificial intelligence, and big data to help make decisions and run operations smoothly - but this can only be achieved if the goals of all the stakeholders are made clear at the start, including the mariners. It is complex to transform an entire way of operating based on overall usability, but it will lead to resilient systems and ship sustainability if done well. Understanding these past changes and the challenges mariners have had to adapt to over the transition periods should inform how we frame, create, and implement future and emerging technologies in maritime work. 

Skilling and reskilling 

Recently, efforts in maritime have been framed in the context of Industry 4.0, developing and designing autonomous vessels and shore control/operations centres. These projects demand a collaborative relationship between shore-based operators and technologically supported vessels. Over time, this will transform the traditional roles of seafarers to those of humans working with ships and ship systems that behave as remote collaborative robots. While we have already seen a move to review skills for maritime professionals to reflect digitalisation developments, there still needs to be more planning toward sustainable reskilling paths for the world's two million seafarers, who are predicted to be in increasingly short supply.  

The Transport 2040: Impact of Technology on Seafarers report highlights the technology road map, looking at the key trends influencing commercial shipping and how this relates to future skill sets. These new skills include the need for technical competence - how the systems work, how we, as humans, need to collaborate with these systems, and the limitations that both the humans and the systems will need to cope with.  

One pillar of Industry 5.0 is collaboration, including collaboration with the data we collect. We can use that data to enable understanding; predicting, advising, and improving maritime activity by digital means. The development of maritime informatics is focused on the changing skill set needed to achieve this, promoting the concept of standardised digital data sharing to achieve high levels of coordination and resource utilisation. Once we realise the value of data, we understand better how and why we collect that data. Maritime informatics is all about using all the data we have collected and continue to collect to address specific goals.  

Human centred design 

As we look towards the future of maritime work within the framework of Industry 5.0, it's crucial to focus on designs and technologies that genuinely serve seafarers. We need to create tools that not only improve how work gets done but also enhance the daily work environment, while also serving the needs of other stakeholders. Human-centric design is all about understanding the physical, mental, and emotional experiences of the user to develop technology that supports and empowers people. 

Technological advancements can lead to safer and more sustainable maritime operations if the technology introduced is intuitive, ensuring seafarers are supported rather than burdened by digital tools. This is as true in the bridge, cargo control, and engine room as it is in the ship’s office. Having an efficient troubleshooting and reporting process is an important part of the overall design concept. It should be as smooth as possible and should never stand in the way of maintaining, operating, and navigating the vessel. 

Ship/shore collaboration 

The way work is managed between ship and shore has evolved, becoming more interconnected and monitored. While increased oversight can help improve safety and efficiency, it is sometimes viewed as one-way transparency where the shore sees in, but the vessel cannot see out. Effective collaboration between ship and shore has always required high levels of trust, and Maritime 5.0 is no different. Greater connectivity should enhance, not hinder, the ability to make informed decisions. This means that data needs to be systemised thoughtfully, requiring the least possible manual input. 

As seafarers and as ship managers we need to be aware of the data management expectations placed on us and look at how the process can be streamlined to be human-centred. 

Where next? 

Recent accidents resulting from power and equipment failure highlight that we need a strong focus on technical resilience over the next few years. However, the vessel and its systems are only as resilient as the crew's understanding and ability to safely operate with the systems and tools that make up the vessels they must operate and maintain. 

"To achieve resilience, we as the maritime community will need to communicate, advocate, and work with shore vessel operators, builders, and technologists to build the future we need together."

A last caution is that the Industry 5.0 concept is as yet incomplete beyond the pillars of human-centricity, sustainability, and resilience. We do not yet know how things will unfold and how we can avoid the adverse effects and outcomes associated with prior industrial revolutions. There are many ways this could turn out in maritime. We could see great leaps in the safety and quality of the working environments onboard. In other outcomes, fragmented approaches raise the burden of work on seafarers to be the data farmers, the integrators, and the reporters that manually feed into shore operational reporting systems. What better place to have this discussion about how to achieve the future we want, and avoid the ones that we don’t, than at the Nautical Institute? 

The NI's automation and technical advisory group is developing this series of articles to equip Seaways readers with knowledge, vocabulary, and updates about vessel technologies and how they impact the seafarer. In the forthcoming article, ‘The Bridge: A Systems View,’ we will delve into how the bridge team is an integral part of the system that operates the vessel. This systemic view fosters a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in maritime operations, advocating for solutions that are not only technologically advanced but also deeply rooted in the realities of human performance and teamwork.  


Key Definitions

Industry 4.0:
‘Industry 4.0 represents the technological evolution from embedded systems to cyberphysical systems. In Industry 4.0, embedded
systems, semantic machine-to-machine communication, IoT, and CPS technologies are integrating the virtual space with the physical world; in addition, a new generation of industrial systems, such as smart factories, is emerging to deal with the complexity of production in the cyber-physical environment.’ (GTAI, Industrie 4.0)

Industry 5.0:
‘Industry 5.0 is an integration of resilient, sustainable, and human-centric technologies, organisational concepts, and management principles for designing and managing cost efficient, responsive, resilient, sustainable, and humancentric value-adding systems at the levels of ecosystems, supply chains, and manufacturing and logistics facilities, data-driven and dynamically and structurally adaptable to changes in the demand and supply environment to secure the provision of society with products and services in a sustainable and human-centric way through the rapid rearrangement and reallocation of its components and capabilities.’ (Ivanov 2023)

Maritime 5.0:
Collaboration between non-human agents (intelligent agents) and seafarers/maritime operators to perform tasks in all levels of maritime space from design to integrated decision making and operation.’(Shahbakhsh et al., 2022)

Shipping 5.0:
Transformation of smart shipping to intelligent shipping systems with human intelligence at the core.’ (Shahbakhsh et al., 2022)

Human-centred design:
‘An approach to interactive system development that focuses specifically on making systems usable. It is a multi-disciplinary activity which incorporates human factors and ergonomics knowledge and techniques. The application of human factors and ergonomics to interactive systems design enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human working conditions, and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance. Applying ergonomics to the design of systems involves taking account of human capabilities, skills, limitations and needs.’ ISO 13407:1999(en): Human-centred design processes for interactive systems

A fully referenced version of this article is available on request from [email protected]