Innovation Hub
7 November 2023

The Role of Applied Intelligence and Startups in the Maritime Industry

Steering Efficiency and Change Through Innovative and Digital Technologies

The maritime industry with its timeless connection to the seas, has always been a hub of innovation, adapting to changing times and technologies. From the transition from wooden ships to steel behemoths, and from sails to engines, this traditional industry has proven its ability to evolve. Today, it stands on the cusp of a new transformative journey, with Applied Intelligence as the wind in its sails, propelling it toward an era of technological innovation and operational efficiency.

At its core, Applied Intelligence (AI) is a powerful combination of artificial intelligence, automation, data analytics, and human expertise. It processes vast data streams, ranging from ship sensors and weather forecasts to historical data, all with the aim of providing actionable insights. These insights act as the guiding stars for maritime companies, steering them toward informed decisions and operational excellence.

The maritime industry faces numerous challenges, from fluctuating fuel prices to stringent environmental regulations, that demand innovative solutions. Applied Intelligence emerges as the industry’s North Star, optimizing routes and operations, minimizing fuel consumption, and predicting maintenance needs. This results in reduced costs and safer voyages, akin to a course correction that leads to greater efficiency, reduced risk and enhanced safety measures.

Navigating The Benefits of Integrated Applied Intelligence

Over the last decade, many industries and sectors have increasingly utilized data collection and artificial intelligence to help streamline many aspects of their business. The maritime industry is no different.

The integration of Applied Intelligence in the maritime industry offers numerous benefits, including informed decision-making, improved operational efficiency, cost reduction and risk mitigation. More specifically, some of the advantages of Applied Intelligence in the maritime domain are:

  • Informed Decision-Making: Real-time insights empower decision-makers, ensuring safety, efficiency, and profitability.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency: From cargo loading to route planning and fuel optimization, it drives operational excellence and cost savings.
  • Cost Reduction and Risk Mitigation: Predictive maintenance minimizes downtime and costly repairs, contributing to significant cost reductions.
  • Increased Safety and Security Measures: Enhanced monitoring and early threat detection prioritize crew safety and thwart security threats, fostering a secure environment for all.

AI adoption is continuously increasing in most industries, and the maritime industry is no exception. AI has a variety of capabilities that can be used to improve the quality and speed of operations. AI can be used to automate routine tasks, freeing up human workers to focus on more strategic tasks. A study by McKinsey showed that the adopters of AI in the transportation and logistics sector had more than 5% increase in profit margins.

A revolutionary solution that provides a very good example of Applied Intelligence’s possibilities for shipping companies is the Digital Twin. This solution creates an advanced digital vessel replica that can be accurately used for real-time monitoring and analysis of the twinned asset. This technology provides the ability to monitor equipment condition, produce real time risk insights, reduce downtime and optimize maintenance operations and voyage planning.

Unlocking New Possibilities with Generative AI

Generative AI is a rapidly developing technology that has the potential to revolutionize many industries, and maritime is one of them. It can be used to improve safety, efficiency, and sustainability in various ways.

By automating a big part of communications, it can be used to automate routine inquiries and generate detailed and standardized reporting for various sensors, ship systems, operations and department-level performance. Generative AI applications can produce and interact with necessary shipping documentation, certificates and reports, in a fast and efficient way, thus streamlining administrative tasks and reducing human error.

Coupled with Digital Twins and Physics-based AI models, generative AI can significantly augment preventive operations when a particular component of a ship might fail or require maintenance, and it could even generate the next best corrective action for it.

There are a lot of ways that Generative AI can transform shipping. As AI technology evolves, we can only expect to see even more groundbreaking applications in the years ahead.

Challenges in the Industry Beckon Opportunities for Innovation

Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy, responsible for ferrying over 80% of the volume of international trade in goods. However, despite its critical role, the maritime industry faces several pressing challenges, including cybersecurity threats, sustainability mandates and calls for greater operational efficiencies. Research and publications echo the industry’s clarion call for transformation.

These challenges also present opportunities for startups to address unmet needs in the industry. For example, the maritime industry is under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact. Startups can disrupt the industry by developing new technologies to promote sustainability, such as energy-efficient vessels, and waste reduction measures. The use of new technologies could also address the need for operational efficiency. Startups can develop new solutions to optimize operations, increase productivity and reduce costs in the maritime industry. For example, the use of AI and big data can help improve the efficiency of cargo loading, predict maintenance needs and optimize shipping routes. Such solutions would lead to the improvement of efficiency and to increased profitability.

Startups worldwide are pioneering innovations that promise to reshape the industry in various ways. For example, Windward focuses on maritime risk management by ship movements and predicting risks associated with particular vessels or routes. Orca AI offers a system that integrates with existing onboard sensors to provide crews with real-time insights, especially in complex or congested environments.

In Greece, a hub where the maritime industry has deep roots, startup companies like Synthetica are leveraging Physics Informed Deep Learning models coupled with Generative AI, to proactively optimise components and systems maintenance as well as emission indicators performance. MarineTraffic is also a well-known example of a successful Greek startup, that provides real-time AIS ship tracking and maritime intelligence.

Startups are the lifeblood of change. Empowered by Applied Intelligence, they are poised to tackle all the challenges head-on, ushering in a new era of maritime excellence. Let’s draw this route together – join the Innovation Hub by Qualco, submit your concept and develop it with the innovation ecosystem’s power.

8 July 2022

26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable – The Financial Markets in a Changing World: A Global Viewpoint

Speaking at the 26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable – The Financial Markets in a Changing World: A Global Viewpoint, the President of Qualco Group, Orestis Tsakalotos, expressed his optimism that Greece could use the new crisis in the global economy as an opportunity for significant reforms, and especially, for fostering technological transformation projects.

In a discussion with Mohamed El-Erian, president of Queen’s College at the University of Cambridge and chief financial advisor of Allianz, PIMCO’s parent company, Mr. Tsakalotos referred to the significant financial crisis that marked Greece, emphasizing that everything that could go wrong went actually wrong. He then highlighted that the country learned its lesson from the 2008 financial crisis and evolved into an ideal laboratory for implementing new policies.

While describing the current financial and geopolitical landscape, Mr. Tsakalotos estimated that geopolitical tensions would be further elevated, with Europe facing severe challenges, especially with the inflation increase. He then stressed that within these circumstances, Greece could leverage its advantages, given the significant work carried out during the past few years in terms of reforms.

“Greece should take advantage of this changing landscape, and we are already witnessing significant wins since we are moving from the brain drain of the past to brain gain, with not only Greeks but also foreigners coming to work in Greece”, Mr. Tsakalotos stated.

“In a landscape of volatility and uncertainty, we need to lay the foundations for stability,” he declared. “The bet for the country,” he said, “will be to implement major technological transformation projects to improve the standard of living and positively impact our communities. In this context, timing, the collaboration of the public and private sector, and the role of institutional investments are of significant importance.”

“The four pillars for successfully implementing these projects are IT-driven technology, financial technology, project execution capacity, and institutional capital. We rarely see all four pillars together, while the execution of such large-scale projects demands the combination of those”, Mr. Tsakalotos stated.

Innovative public and private partnerships alongside the capitalisation on institutional capital are needed. In this context, Greece can showcase a series of positive examples, Mr. Tsakalotos emphasised, while pointing out the successful securitization transactions. At the same time, the prudent management of public money is the groundwork for upgrading our country’s investment rate.

In any case, as Mr. Tsakalotos highlighted, a time of crisis is the opportunity to implement significant reforms while emphasizing PPC’s successful reorganisation program as the most indicative example.

He stated that the last three years have proven that everything is possible, commenting that Greek companies are used to operating in tough times. Today, businesses should function like families that take care of their children to cope effectively with all emerging challenges.

Tune in to watch the discussion.

3 June 2022

Going Zero Waste with Polygreen

Always envisioning a sustainable future, we remain committed to reducing our environmental footprint by focusing on saving natural resources.

To this end, we join forces with Polygreen, an organisation that offers integrated and innovative circular economy solutions worldwide that improve our quality of life. The collaboration involves launching the Just Go Zero Programme, which aims to transform us into a Zero Waste organisation.

In this respect and on the occasion of World Environment Day 2022, we held an informative webinar, during which specialists from Polygreen introduced the Just Go Zero programme to our people.

Our partnership with Polygreen and the implementation of the respective programme complement our broader plan of action, encompassing the following:

  • Reduction in energy consumption
  • Recycling of materials
  • Use of digital tools that reduce paper
  • Utilisation of eco-friendly products on our premises
  • Energy upgrading across our infrastructure

The 2022 World Environment Day campaign #OnlyOneEarth calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.

3 June 2022

Working at the office of the future

Agility and Wellness in the spotlight!

The radical changes caused by the pandemic have practically transformed our working reality. In this newly formed era, we can all work from anywhere and anytime, provided that the appropriate technological tools are at our disposal and the necessary infrastructure is in place. The future of employment has now been marked by agility on the one hand and technology on the other. Agility has evolved into the ultimate prerequisite for all organisations’ sustainability, with technology constituting the central pillar for the future of entrepreneurship.

For us, however, offices still constitute the heart and soul of the organisation, reflecting its identity and culture. In working spaces, employees interact, share both personal and professional experiences, build strong bonds, and generate social capital with collective knowledge, ideas, and innovation.

Implementing a development strategy based on employees’ needs

As part of our people-centric approach, we granted our employees the agility required, adopting a new hybrid working model and designing the “office of the future,” infused with the extensive use of technology. The new spaces reflect our environmental, social, and corporate culture while allowing people to work seamlessly from every part of the world.

Our spaces are designed to ensure greater physical distancing alongside the hygiene of the entire workforce through the following:

  • Application of a system of natural air
  • Provision of natural lighting
  • Installation of external noise reduction elements

As part of the new hybrid working model and with both the well-being and safety of our people as a focal point, we established:

  • A Hot Desking system that allows our employees to use the new spaces according to their teleworking schedule. Our people can now schedule their working days with a physical presence and “book” their office via mobile applications.
  • A dedicated medical room within our premises, with an experienced nurse always on the front line to assist our people.
  • A fully equipped gym space, enabling our people to blow off the steam.
  • A therapeutic space, where they can lower their stress levels through massage treatments.
  • A beauty salon aiming to boost their mood.
  • A healthy in-house restaurant, offering healthy meal options and promoting the adoption of balanced nutritional habits.

An array of initiatives that are just the tip of the iceberg; A plethora of actions that constitute just a part of a broader plan, aiming to bring the work-life balance to a whole new level, ensuring our people’s wellbeing in both professional and personal terms.

Health & Safety
1 June 2022

Joining forces with the Hellenic Cancer Society to celebrate World No Tobacco Day

At Qualco Group, establishing a safe and healthy workplace while nurturing our employees’ quality of professional and personal life constitutes a focal point of our people-centric culture.

With World No Tobacco Day as a flashpoint and aiming to inform our people about the benefits of quitting smoking, we joined forces with the Hellenic Cancer Society, organising an internal online webinar.

Over 100 employees participated in this informative session, where our special guest, Dimitra Filopoulou, Psychologist at the Smoking Cessation Counseling Department of Hellenic Cancer Society, highlighted the importance of kicking smoking out of our lives while sharing useful tips on how to prepare ourselves and what to expect from this uncomfortable process. At the same time, Ms. Filopoulou indicated valuable alternative options, such as making a free appointment at the Stop Smoking Center or letting our family and friends know that we plan to quit smoking, to increase our chances of succeeding.

Health & Safety
31 May 2022

Qualco Group was honored in Health & Safety Awards 2022

With the well-being, health, and safety of our employees always at the forefront of its approach, Qualco Group was honored in the prestigious Health & Safety Awards 2022, organised by Boussias media group.

In particular, Qualco Group excelled in the category of “Healthy & Wellbeing Space” for designing and delivering its brand new working facilities to its workforce while being honored in the category of “Preventing the Spread of Covid-19” for the implementation of its holistic plan of coping with the pandemic. Both awards came as a testament to Qualco Group’s mission to ensure both the physical and mental health of its people through an array of regular actions and initiatives, where people have the first call.

At Qualco Group, optimal and safe working conditions that promote people’s wellbeing constitute the key success factors for both people and the organisation itself. We firmly believe that people can unleash their creativity and be the best version of themselves within a safe and healthy workplace, where everything seems possible.

24 May 2022

Episode #1 – “All strong, all equal” podcast is officially on air by Women on Topic and Qualco Group

Looking to a new sustainable era, free of all kinds of discrimination and stereotypes, where gender equality will be appreciated as a self-evident human right, Qualco Group proudly introduces its first podcast episode as part of its synergy with Women On Top.

The episode “All strong, all equal” of Women on Topic and powered by Qualco Group, inaugurates this rather creative joint venture, coming to redefine women’s psychosocial empowerment and clarify its vitality toward an equitable and more equal world.

“All strong, all equal” episode is available on Spotify, Google & Apple Podcasts and Black Lemon platforms, featuring a clinical therapist, an educator and a teenage girl, exchanging views and experiences regarding the actual meaning of psycho-social empowerment for teenagers and how it’s being associated with a fairer and more equal world.

An array of crucial questions is being put in place, such as “Do boys need empowerment”? (spoiler: of course, they do), “and if so, what can I do, if their families guide them otherwise?”. When it comes to girls, “What does equality mean for them?”, “What do they need to feel stronger?” “How can we all jointly support these girls alongside the educational community itself, in view of building a world of strong and equal individuals?”

Let’s pave the way toward a society of equality. It’s a rather challenging, but joint effort.

Tune in to listen to the ”All strong, all equal” podcast, available on Spotify, Google & Apple Podcasts platforms.

24 May 2022

Well Played podcast series by Qualco Group: S01 – Ep. 01 – Exploring the ‘Art of Listening’

The ability of listening may seem like a simple and natural skill. However, many of us cannot understand that the lack of it often proves to be the main factor causing conflicts within our relationships, both personal and professional ones.

Realising that listening is the cornerstone of every fruitful communication and collaboration, Qualco Group proudly presents the ‘Art of Listening‘, the first episode of its Well Played podcast series, highlighting how a simple skill comes of age as an actual form of art.

The episode features Nancy Mallerou, internationally acknowledged Life Coach and Founder of Life Clinic Group – Personal & Business Evolution, who advises us on how to become more “active listeners” and add confidence and empathy across our communications, in view of improving our collaborations.

Tune in to listen to the ‘Art of Listening‘ podcast, available on Spotify, Google & Apple Podcasts platforms.

23 May 2022

Qualco Group & Women on Top joining forces toward an equal society

Envisioning a bias-free era of solidarity, inclusion, and women’s empowerment, Qualco Group joins forces with Women on Top, an organisation that consistently supports gender equality across both the business world and education.

This joint venture aims to create a society, where women’s equal promotion in leadership, and retention, but also the establishment of equal opportunities for personal and professional growth in the workplace will have the first call. A creative synergy is just around the corner, coming to highlight gender equality both as a self-evident human right and a vital groundwork for a sustainable society.

In particular, an insightful podcast series, as part of the Women On Topic and powered by Qualco Group, comes to captivate an audience, being dumbfounded in front of a society lagging in gender equality and women’s respect matters. The episodes aim to raise awareness about gender equality maladies in the workplace alongside girls’ and women’s psychosocial empowerment, but also lead the way towards a society of equality. In parallel, women’s employment in the field of Ιnformation and Communication Technology (ICT) lies at the core of this series, a sensitive issue in today’s STEM society. Podcasts will be available on Spotify, Google & Apple Podcasts and Black Lemon platforms.

The first episode under the theme “All strong, all equal” raises the curtain, aiming to redefine psychosocial empowerment and clarify its vitality toward an equitable and more equal world. Five more episodes will complete the puzzle of women’s empowerment each month, coming to inform the audience on a crucial matter that agonises the Greek society.

Gazing to a society of equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, but also in the traditionally male-dominated field of ICT, technology and analytics, Qualco Group stays by all women’s side, contributing to the global effort of breaking all kinds of biases in the workplace.