By Carly Fields
True to its moniker, the innovation panel at Breakbulk Americas took a novel approach to get its message across.
Led by Bechtel’s Steven “Spo” Spoljaric, the panel took attendees on an interactive journey using a HoloLens to allow the audience to view a large component in a mixed reality. The display demonstrated how stakeholders in different parts of the world could view and interact over realistic models of project cargoes.
Panelist John Lusty, director, energy and utilities, industry solutions at Siemens, explained that the shipper was already using HoloLenses in two ways, firstly in its own manufacturing internally and secondly, for customers. “The HoloLens offers a great way to interact with data,” Lusty said.
Joining him on the panel, Michael Ynosencio, director, business development – Americas at DHL Global Forwarding, described the technology as “really interesting,” adding that it “definitely has potential.” However, he questioned how it could be placed on a large scale across the industry.
“How long will it take for mixed reality to become mainstream in how we plan and execute shipments?” he asked. Lusty added that he expected there would eventually be large disparities between those that are technologically able and those that are not.
The potential of drones was also discussed by the panel, and while Ynosencio noted that it would take time for drone technology to be widely applied, both Siemens’ and Bechtel’s representatives confirmed their companies were already using drone technology.
Siemens is using drones to find out if there is an asset heading towards failure without putting people at risk, while Bechtel uses them to make inspections at heights. “There’s real clickability to applying this to our industry,” Spoljaric said.
Staffing Fit For Purpose
However, technological leaps such as the HoloLens, mixed reality and drones bring challenges, specifically with staffing skills.
Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant at Allianz Global corporate and specialty, also on the panel, said that the insurer was examining the concept of youth and at what young people are exposed to today. “This technology does not blow them away. They expect it, it is their baseline, their normal.”
Lusty added that project cargo companies need to be comfortable with technology to attract the right people.
Spoljaric went one stage further and urged EPCs and forwarders to “step up with the engineers and speak the same language.”
Looking ahead, the audience heard how the project cargo industry could avoid making the same mistakes as other industries further ahead on the technological curve.
“In the energy industry, we have the advantage as we can look at other industries to see how they have solved challenges that we haven’t solved yet,” Ynosencio said. “We can take lessons learned that have already been de-risked in other industries and use them in this sector.”
Photo: The innovation panel at Breakbulk Americas.