OOCL container ship in motion

Microsoft Research Asia partners with Orient Overseas Container Line Limited to make shipping operations more efficient with AI. Source: Microsoft

Microsoft to improve shipping operations with AI

MICROSOFT Research Asia (MSRA), is partnering with Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) to use artificial intelligence (AI) within the shipping industry.

OOCL aims to optimize its shipping network operations, with the help of deep learning research. The partnership will see both companies jointly conducting research and development in the next 18 months, for applying deep learning and reinforcement learning to its operations. Through a 15-month prior engagement with MSRA, OOCL estimates savings around US$10 million in operating costs annually.

“We look forward to strengthening our partnership with MSRA to leverage AI research and innovations to drive digital transformation in the shipping industry and to exchange knowledge among our top developers so that we can better address customer needs with advanced technologies and predictive analytics,” said Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL.

The collaboration will also contribute to training over 200 AI developers in Hong Kong. MSRA will be conducting machine learning and deep learning sessions over the next 12 months at the Hong Kong Science Park.

In recent years, OOCL has been focussing on its digital transformation. Having adopted a hybrid cloud infrastructure, OOCL relies on auto-switching and auto-scaling across its businesses for the last few years. It will continue building and developing its AI and machine learning capabilities to increase efficiency in the shipping industry.

“MSRA is devoted to seeking broad and deep engagement opportunities with academic communities and vertical industries, in order to promote collaboration, cultivate innovation, advance education, and turn ideas into reality,” explained Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, Chairman of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia.

“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 optimize its existing shipping operations using deep and reinforcement learning.”

OOCL is one of the largest container shipping company in the world. It operates in 70 countries, with a fleet of 59 ships. The company processes over 30 million vessel data monthly, using predictive analytics to regulate vessel schedules and analyze berth activities. The company hires more than 1,000 developers located in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai, and Manila.