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OOCL and Microsoft in “AI Digital Transformation”

Partnership will apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) research to improve network operations and reduce OOCL’s operations costs by a projected US$10M annually.

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OOCL is making a significant investment in AI
OOCL is making a significant investment in AI

Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), Microsoft’s world-class research arm, and Orient Overseas Container Line Limited (OOCL) have announced a significant collaboration to leverage AI to improve OOCL’s operation.

 

“Microsoft has been committed in providing cutting-edge AI solutions for companies across different industries to help drive digital transformation,” said Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong. “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 revolutionizing the shipping industry.”

(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.

OOCL notes it has “always been a pioneer in leveraging technology to make a real business impact and accelerate customer value, in which AI is the key in their digital transformation vision. The company has a talent base of over 1,000 developers located in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Manila. It has fully embraced a hybrid cloud infrastructure with auto-switching and auto-scaling throughout its businesses and machine learning for several years. For example, OOCL processes and analyzes over 30 million vessel data every month. By leveraging AI technology and machine learning, the company develops predictive analytics on vessel schedules and berth activities”.


Steve Siu, Chief Information Officer of OOCL, said the carrier expects to achieve savings of around US$10M annually “by applying the AI research and techniques for optimizing 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”.

 

Adopting AI is not just about lowering costs, one of the initiatives presented at the announcement in Hong Kong is the use of Game Theory to support dynamic pricing, something the shipping industry is keen to make wider use of.

AI tools could be brought into OOCL's strategic diection
AI tools could be brought into OOCL's strategic diection

“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,” added 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. “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 optimize 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.”

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