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Commercial Supply Chains Have Changed, But Not as Much as You Would Think

Observations from Victor Restis

This is an interesting article that highlights commentary by Greek shipping magnate, Victor Restis. It discusses the changes that took place in the international cargo shipping and trade (the lifeline of our supply chain) due to COVID, and how technologies have shaped the industry’s future. Technology enhances our everyday lives, and it makes complete sense that the tech we use today for business, advertising, gaming, etc., would be called upon to strengthen the global supply chain.

What interested me the most was the implementation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. These proved to have the most integrative effect on our daily lives and rituals during the pandemic. The same technologies wowing us on the silver screen of Hollywood are now being used today in the medical field for digital imaging and to enhance surgical procedures. It is good to see those technologies being applied at a rapid rate to the global supply chain. Restis talks about this technology being used across different business processes including keeping the crew safe by monitoring health and wellness. This is most likely its best application thus far given there are more than two million seafarers and industry personnel helping facilitate how product travels from manufacturing to our store shelves. Any investment in crew health and wellness is welcomed to maintain our supply chain’s strength and dependence.

As we all learned through the COVID-19 experience, a threat to our supply chain is a threat to our livelihoods and way of living. As a society, we cannot afford any break in the flow of supplies or raw materials. Imagine the chaos if we were running low on food? What would society look like with a food shortage? How would it react? We saw hoarders selling small bottles of hand sanitizer for extortionist amounts. Imagine that same scenario with food at the end of the line?

Which brings me to threats of cyber attacks, also commented on in the article. International shipping and trade seeits share of attempted cyber-attacks and hacks. There are systems information and cargo inventory manifests that can be stolen and used for pirate attacks, or another malicious event. Imagine if these large cargo vessels were autonomous? Could a hacker take control of a ship and navigate it away from its intended destination?

Thankfully, Restis says that even with integrating new technologies at a rapid rate is in place, replacing humans onboard transoceanic cargo vessels is not a likely scenario anytime in our near or distant future.

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