Marine industry: technology, a lifeline

The marine industry is increasingly turning to innovation to improve efficiency, strengthen the supply chain, or reduce environmental footprint. Here are three good examples of innovation by the marine industry.

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Optimize traffic in Saint-Laurent

Merchant ships sailing in St. Lawrence face many navigational challenges due to the fluctuations in ocean currents, tides and water width and depth.

The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (APL), which manages river navigation between Les Escoumins and Montreal – the areas considered the most risky – has developed a traffic optimization system to improve traffic flow.

“The application makes it possible, for example, to determine the shortest route from one point to another. We can also say the best time for a ship to reach Les Escoumins so that it does not have to go to Montreal,” explained Alain Richard, APL captain.

The system is also suitable for passenger boats that, due to their altitude, can only pass under the Quebec Bridge during low tide. “Then we can advise them to slow down or increase their speed to reach the best possible moment. This prevents them from anchoring while waiting for the tide to recede, “added Allen Richards.

Developed in collaboration with Maritime Innovation, the technology drives supply chain efficiency and improves shipping safety because fewer ships are temporarily housed. Not to mention that environmental benefits.

“As the routes are optimized, ships use less fuel and therefore emit less greenhouse gases,” the captain stressed.

About 9,000 ships pass through this maritime highway every year. This shows the importance of planning this traffic.


Bella Desgagnés supplies many communities in the lower North Coast who are still deprived of a road or rail connection with the rest of the world.

Photo Archives, QMI Agency

Bella Desgagnés supplies many communities in the lower North Coast who are still deprived of a road or rail connection with the rest of the world.

A megabank of marine data

Since 2016, several industry players – Coast Guard, Port Authority, Carriers, etc. – Share their data with Maritime Information System (SIM).

The tool was set up by a joint venture of the Société de développement économique du Saint-Laurent (SODES) and Innovation Maritime, filling a large gap.

“The industry is constantly generating a lot of information that has not been compiled or processed. We wanted to create a tool that would enable them to analyze so that industry stakeholders could access reliable data for decision making, “explained Sylvain Lafrans.Inset), Executive Director of Innovation Maritime, Applied Research Center approved by the Institute Maritime du Quebec (IMQ).

Ship movement, ship type (bulk or container) sailing in St. Lawrence, navigation speed, cargo type, fleet loading capacity … Every six seconds, SIM stores different types of information in different databases. They are then filtered, structured and analyzed using powerful extraction and processing equipment.

SIM is an open interface that is accessible to the entire industry, but also to researchers, organizations and the general public, who can ask for different data.

“For example, a municipality may receive precise information on maritime traffic with an investment project to improve its port facilities,” stressed Sylvain Lafrans.

In 2021, Innovation Maritime received সহায়তা 900,000 in funding for the development of SIM’s Phase 2 to integrate into St. Lawrence’s Smart Economic Corridor.

“This will allow us to further advance the use of data by integrating artificial intelligence tools to strengthen analytics and better monitor the evolution of the sector.” And from 2023, we aim to expand the data collection in the Great Lakes, ”said Mr. Lafrans.

Prioritize essential products, including artificial intelligence

The CargO2ai system was created during the first wave of the Covid-19. It took just 10 weeks to develop this technological tool that makes it possible to detect contained products. Purpose: To prioritize medical equipment, medicines and food products as soon as possible in the context of health crisis.

“The application detects containers containing these products even before the cargo ship arrives at the port, which makes it possible to speed up their handling once they arrive at the dock,” explains Daniel Olivier, director of strategic intelligence and innovation. Port of Montreal .. These products are quickly taken care of by the carriers who bring them to their destination. A

CargO2ai was created through a partnership between Port of Montreal, CargoM, Scale AI (Canadian Artificial Intelligence Supercluster) and Ivado Labs, which developed the Artificial Intelligence algorithm.

Since the solution was implemented, about 7,200 containers have been handled on a priority basis. “The algorithm has become more efficient with a growth rate of 80% to 92%,” said Daniel Olivier.

Now that it has proven itself, the technology can be used extensively.

“We’re looking at different ways,” said Daniel Olivier. For example, it can be effective in speeding up the delivery of complex equipment, such as equipment, when building a hospital. A

It is also attracting interest abroad. The Port of Montreal is considering a partnership with the Belgian port of Antwerp-Bruges to share its technology.

Developed in emergencies in response to an unprecedented health and logistics crisis, CargO2ai could go so far.

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