Microsoft partners with OOCL to apply AI in shipping industry
Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), Microsoft’s research arm, and Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) have partnered to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the shipping industry.
The collaboration is expected to nurture over 200 AI developers over the next 12 months and will focus on improving network operations and achieve efficiencies.
“Microsoft has been committed in providing cutting-edge AI solutions for companies across different industries to help drive digital transformation,” said Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong.
“With our Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge vision, we are partnering with selected top customers worldwide to accelerate the adoption of AI innovations into products and solutions that can be applied in real business contexts. The partnership between MSRA and OOCL demonstrates our strong progress in revolutionising the shipping industry.”
OOCl says it has fully embraced a hybrid cloud infrastructure with auto-switching and auto-scaling throughout its businesses and machine learning for several years.
For example, OOCL processes and analyses over 30mn vessel data every month. By leveraging AI technology and machine learning, the company develops predictive analytics on vessel schedules and berth activities.
“With MSRA’s efforts and expertise, we expect to save around $10mn in operation costs annually by applying the AI research and techniques for optimising shipping network operations from our most recent 15-week engagement,” said Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL.
“Moving forward, we will embark on an 18-month joint-partnership in research and development to apply deep learning and reinforcement learning in shipping network operations. Moreover, MSRA will assist us in training over 200 AI engineers by conducting machine learning and deep learning sessions at the Hong Kong Science Park over the next 12 months.”
MSRA is Microsoft’s fundamental and applied research arm in the Asia Pacific region and a leading research community for core AI technologies including machine learning. It has access to cutting-edge technologies and the best researchers in the world who continue to invent new algorithms and solutions to push the start of the art and to fulfill different customer needs.
Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, said: “Microsoft’s AI offering is a combination of technology, business model and user experience. Shipping network operations involve multiple parties and variables that can change at any moment. Embracing AI is a complex business challenge in digital transformation.
“MSRA’s AI research experts have joined forces with OOCL to optimise its existing shipping operations using deep and reinforcement learning, an R&D area that needs top AI researchers and domain experts for business impact validation.”
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”