Wednesday, April 25, 2018

AI Boffins Liaise with Container Shipping Line to Improve Freight Network Operations

Box Carrier and Microsoft Collaborate
Shipping News Feature
HONG KONG – Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), Microsoft's research arm, and Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) are collaborating in an attempt to improve freight network operations and achieve efficiencies within the shipping industry with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). OOCL of course are about to merge with COSCO, owned by Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL) the Chinese box carrying giant, assuming US regulators allow the deal, something increasingly uncertain in the current protectionist climate. Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong, commented:

“Microsoft has been committed in providing cutting-edge AI solutions for companies across different industries to help drive digital transformation. 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 claims to have a talent base of over 1,000 developers located in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Manila, and as it looks to include AI in its digital transformation vision. The company says that it has always been a pioneer in leveraging technology to make a real business impact and accelerate customer value, having fully embraced a hybrid cloud infrastructure with auto-switching and auto-scaling throughout its businesses and machine learning for several years.

OOCL however is in the Hong Kong based stable of Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL) which saw a drastic slump in profits two years ago. Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL, said:

“With MSRA’s efforts and expertise, we expect to save around $10 million in operation costs annually by applying the AI research and techniques for optimising shipping network operations from our most recent 15-week engagement. 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. 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.”

MSRA is Microsoft’s fundamental and applied research arm in the Asia Pacific region and claims to be the leading research community for core AI technologies including machine learning. It has access to cutting-edge technologies and what it views as the best researchers in the world who continue to invent new algorithms and solutions to push the start of the art and to fulfil different customer needs. 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, said:

“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. 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.”

Photo: (L-R) Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong; Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, Chairman of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and Managing Director of MSRA; Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL and Chief Executive Officer of CargoSmart; Dr. David Chung, JP, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Albert Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.