Shipping and Sensors, Part Two
In case you missed Part One of this series, go back to our home page and check out our slideshow for more information on Shipping and Marine Sensor Technology!
By Jesse Bonfeld, VP Business Development, Sherborne Sensors
Existing technologies are already by and large developed, so available R&D budgets can be better utilized to modify these technologies to meet specific application requirements. In many cases, some level of field test data already exists, minimizing the risk and cost of proving that the basic premise of the technology actually works, and costs to validate that the technology is robust enough in its basic format to be put into the field. There may already be familiarity with the technology itself, or the concepts behind it, amongst the user and customer base, adding greatly to their comfort level in directing and committing funds to have it further developed and ultimately put in the field.
There are already several examples of inertial sensors supporting applications in the marine industry where field-proven technologies are addressing new and more challenging applications. Inclinometers, sometimes also known as clinometers, monitor how much a vessel is pitching or rolling while both in still water and rough weather. If a ship lists excessively in an active wave environment then it could lead to a ship capsizing.
With the help of inclinometer technology, it becomes easier to determine whether the tilting of the ship is dangerous or within the danger-free limits. The well understood accuracy, repeatability, and robust design of these existing sensors now allow owners and operators to further extend the ability to work at or near the limit of their equipment, maximizing profitability, minimizing downtime, and maintaining the highest possible productivity.
With depths of offshore oil wells now well beyond five miles, the attitude control of oil rigs and other offshore structures while being deployed is a very critical process, which becomes more challenging as exploration and production depths continue to increase. The leveling of these semi-submersible structures relies heavily on the tilt information obtained from existing precision inclinometer technologies, which ensure stability, control and accurate positioning with only minor modifications allowing them to operate in a very difficult and aggressive environment.
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Another application for proven inclinometer technology is found in ballast transfer systems for offshore barges, ships and other marine applications. Here inclinometers check the load balancing of a vessel for both safety reasons and to ensure optimum trim, thus reducing drag and energy requirements, improving efficiency and profitability.
As the above examples demonstrate, trying to develop new technologies to address the most current application challenges is not always the most cost effective approach. Often, existing, field proven solutions can be translated to these applications, completely intact, or with only minor modifications. Given the current economic conditions, and global competitive environment, engineers and product managers in all industries, including marine, need to keep an open mind when contemplating novel sensor solutions to their most difficult applications.
Uber Freight to Acquire Transplace in $2.2bn Deal
Uber Freight is to acquire logistics technology and solutions provider Transplace in a deal worth $2.25bn.
The company will pay up to $750m in common stock and the remainder in cash to TPG Capital, Transplace’s private equity owner, pending regulatory approval and closing conditions.
“This is a significant step forward, not just for Uber Freight but for the entire logistics ecosystem,” said Lior Ron, Head of Uber Freight, and former founder of the Uber-owned trucking start-up Otto.
Uber’s Big Play for Supply Chain
Transplace is one of the world's largest managed transportation and logistics networks, with 62,000 unique users on its platform and $11bn in freight under management. It offers truck brokerage and other capacity solutions, end-to-end visibility on cross border shipments, and a suite of digital solutions and consultancy services.
The purchase is the latest move by parent company Uber, which launched as a San Francisco cab-hailing app in 2011, to diversify its offering and create new revenue streams in all transport segments.
Transplace said the takeover comes amid a period of “accelerated transformation in logistics”, where globalisation, shipping and transport disruption, and widespread volatility are colliding.
Uber Freight plans to integrate the Transplace network into its own platform, which connects shippers and carriers in a dashboard that mirroring the intuitive experience found in its consumer vehicle booking and food ordering services.
“This is an opportunity to bring together complementary best-in-class technology solutions and operational excellence from two premier companies to create an industry-first shipper-to-carrier platform that will transform shippers’ entire supply chains, delivering operational resilience and reducing costs at a time when it matters most,” said Ron.
Frank McGuigan, CEO of Transplace, said the resulting merger will offer enhanced efficiency and transparency for shippers, and benefits of scale for carriers. “All in all, we expect to significantly reduce shipper and carrier empty miles to the benefit of highway and road infrastructures and the environment,” he added.
History of Uber Freight
Uber Freight was established in 2017 and separated into its own business unit the following year. In 2019 the company had expanded across the entire continental US, established a headquarters in Chicago. Later that year it launched its first international division in Europe, initially from a regional foothold in the Nertherlands, and later moving into Germany.
The logistics spinoff attracted a $500m investment from New York-based Greenbriar Equity Group in October 2020, and launched a new shipping platform for companies of all sizes in May, partly in response to a driver shortage in Canada.