Shipping and Sensors, Part One
By Jesse Bonfeld, VP Business Development, Sherborne Sensors
Sensors are an integral component of any measurement and automation application in the shipping and marine industry to ensure accuracy, reliability, efficiency and communications capability. This has fuelled research and development into the sensors industry and the continued innovation in sensors technology has ensured a thriving market and a growing demand for custom solutions.
According to analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, the sensors market in Europe is estimated to reach $19 billion by 2016, creating opportunities for technological advancements and ultimately new applications for sensors.
Shipping and marine companies continue to benefit from ongoing efforts to develop innovative, new sensor technologies needed to meet the ever expanding challenges of the industry. Ultra-reliability and long-life precision sensors such as inclinometers, accelerometers and load cells are commonplace in a number of marine and shipping applications.
Load cells, for example, are used to convert a force into an electrical signal and offers measurement of tension, compression and shear forces. The majority of today's designs use strain gauges as the sensing element and feature low deflection and high frequency response characteristics, which are especially beneficial for both materials testing and high‐speed load measurement applications, particularly where peak forces are being monitored. In the marine industry they are often used for hoist loads, platform retention, towing forces and mooring loads and systems.
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Many common trends can be seen across the sensor marketplace and application portfolio, including the use of wireless communications technologies, improvements in the ability of sensors to operate in extreme conditions (temperature, shock, pressure, EMF, RF, radiation); bundling of capabilities to process multiple inputs and outputs on a single platform; and the development and use of novel materials to enhance sensor performance, longevity and accuracy.
Over the last few years, however, the shipping and marine industry has been under constant pressure to improve efficiency and reduce cost in the face of the worst global economic condition in decades. Consequently, companies have a tremendous incentive to re-examine equipment and technologies that they already have at their disposal, and investigate ways to utilize these readily available resources to meet new application requirements.
This approach, of re-examining existing patent portfolios and technologies as possible enablers or outright solutions to current and future technology development challenges is being used more and more and with significant success. Companies in the shipping and marine industry and public entities responsible for operating and maintaining marine fleets are examining andrecognizingthe value of existing, field-proven technologies as at least a partial solution to reduced budgets, and an opportunity to cost effectively facilitate meeting near and mid-term revenue and profit goals.
Come back tomorrow for Part Two of our feature on Shipping and Marine Sensor Technology!
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.