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OOCL in Microsoft AI partnership

Dr Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Microsoft, outlines some of the goals of the project Dr Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Microsoft, outlines some of the goals of the project

Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has announced a partnership with Microsoft to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) research to improve network operations and achieve efficiencies within the shipping industry, with more than 200 AI developers expected to be trained by the project over the next 12 months.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), the tech giant’s regional R&D arm, will work with OOCL’s own pool of researchers on the project, with the shipping company boasting an impressive talent base of more than 1,000 developers located in San Jose, Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Manila.

Based on the results of an initial 15-week engagement project, OOCL says that it expects to save approximately US$10 million in annual operation costs by applying AI technologies in optimising its shipping network operations.

“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,” said Steve Siu, chief information officer of OOCL.

“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.”

OOCL has already operated a hybrid Cloud infrastructure, with auto-switching and auto-scaling, throughout its businesses for a number of years, and has previously implemented machine learning technologies to streamline operations.

These systems currently assist in processing and analysing over 30 million vessel data points every month, generating information that is used to develop predictive analytics on vessel schedules and berth activities.

“Shipping network operations involve multiple parties and variables that can change at any moment,” said 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.

“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.”{/mprestriction}

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