Why Reducing Emissions is Essential in a Consumer-Heavy World

Bearing Team

Maritime shipping is a trillion dollar industry. Every year, among countless other goods, it is responsible for transporting almost 2 billion tons of crude oil, 1 billion tons of iron ore, 350 million tons of grain and 90% of the world’s commercial goods.

Food, energy, electronics, automobiles — they all travel by sea. It’s no exaggeration to call maritime shipping the circulatory system of the global economy.

Like any vital system, maritime shipping is slow to change. The rhythms of a sea voyage today would be familiar to any old salt. Dockworkers blast barnacles off ships’ hulls. Sailors keep a weather eye out for unexpected squalls. Navigators still plot their course and estimate fuel consumption using mathematical models that are decades old.

The Status Quo Won't Cut It

Those models may have worked in the past, but they’re beginning to show their age. The maritime shipping industry has come under intense pressure to reduce the estimated 1 billion metric tons of carbon it releases each year. Government oversight of emissions is ratcheting up in various jurisdictions. Consumers are demanding greener supply chains. The industry itself is calling for decarbonization by 2050. Starting this year, vessels will need to submit emissions data to the International Maritime Organization, which will give them a Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) grade from A-E, with C the lowest passing grade. Most observers expect better grades to translate to higher rates, so the financial stakes are high.

And of course shipping companies have other reasons — business and operational — to travel farther, faster, on the same amount of fuel.

The problem is that they’re already operating about as efficiently as they can with the tools they have. Physics-based models have reached their limits. They simply can’t be made more accurate. There are too many variables involved, from wind direction to the amount of biofouling creating drag on a ship’s hull.

At this point, the only way the industry can meaningfully reduce emissions is to slow ships down across the board. CEOs of several major companies have already indicated that this is their plan. But how to do this without overdoing it? These slowdowns could tie up global supply chains and cause annual shortages of goods, all while eating at the industry’s bottom line. It's a grim prospect in a world where freight capacity is already stretched by war and disease, and may be thrown into fresh uncertainty with economic storms on the horizon.

The problem seemed insoluble. But there is a solution: one based not on physics, but artificial intelligence.

Powering Green Shipping With AI

We believed we could use AI and statistics to do what physics-based models couldn’t. We trained our platform on vast amounts of real-world data about weather, currents, market prices and the global shipping fleet. We analyzed every trip over 2022: where it started, where it ended, how long it took.

We used that data to find the most efficient routes from port to port. We created performance models for every cargo ship in the world, and built a simulator that could accurately predict CII ratings for all of them.

We knew that anyone could make a prediction. The trick was to get it right, and know you got it right. That’s where our relationships with major shipping companies like IINO Lines and MOL proved invaluable. Within months of building our AI models, we were able to test them at sea with those industry titans. We didn’t just think they worked. We knew they worked. That’s something no other AI company could say.

In testing we also confirmed something important. We didn’t need extra onboard sensors to power our AI. No Internet of Things, no integration, no retrofitting. Just remarkable ease of integration and activation. Even without shipboard data, our data-driven models produced results better than physics and math. By adding a few lines of data from a ship’s noon reports, our models achieved results that could save companies millions of dollars of fuel each year, and keep millions of tons of emissions from entering the atmosphere.

That’s important because there’s no time to waste. The world needs to reduce carbon emissions right now. Shipping companies need a CII solution right now. We built AI that works right now.

Our mission is to speed the transition to green shipping — delivering previously unrealized economic value for our clients – and help save the world while we’re at it. We’re glad you’ve joined us on the journey. Watch this space. There’s a lot more to come.

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