The Secret Behind Shipping Routes For Global Trade


The vast ocean is home to many legends, pirates, and unbelievable stories. Shipping routes have been around for centuries. These routes are responsible for the trading of goods between countries.

Today,  an estimated 90% of global trade relies on the shipping industry. Shipping is one of the most cost-effective means of transportation worldwide. Ships can carry more cargo with lower fuel costs.

Ships sail through several routes daily to bring goods to consumers around the world. In this article, learn a few things about ships and the major shipping routes used today.

Hundreds of ships sail through major shipping routes daily.

There are several major shipping routes for global trade. These routes make the transport of goods faster and more efficient. 

Shipping routes span several continents. These routes connect different oceans to get ships to their destination. 

Some ships travel on a pre-planned route, taking goods from one point to another. Other ships stop at different ports on their journey, loading and unloading goods as they go. Here are some of the major shipping routes used today.

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is one of the most famous shipping routes. Ships that sail through the canal carry goods such as oil, energy, and commodities from Asia to Europe. 

The canal allows for the transport of almost 10% of the world’s oil – an estimated 1M barrels daily. It is also responsible for transporting more than 50M metric tons of metals in 2019. 

Strait of Malacca

The Strait of Malacca is a major shipping route that connects the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Over 80,000 ships carrying all types of cargo traverse this strait yearly. It is the major route for connecting Asia to the other continents.

English Channel

The English Channel is the busiest shipping route in the world. The channel is between the United Kingdom and France. Ships sailing through the channel transport petroleum, gas, oil, and several other commodities. 

Within the English Channel, you will find the Strait of Dover. More than 500 ships pass through this strait daily. These ships transport cargo from North America, South America, and the Middle East. Aside from cargo ships, the English Channel is also used by passenger ships.

Technology has played a major role in increasing the efficiency of shipping.

How can ships navigate each major shipping route without colliding with another ship? The answer is by using technology! Many ships are now applying several technological advancements to help make navigation easier. Here are some examples.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things or IoT helps automate several tasks without human presence. Having remote access to several operations on the ship makes life easier.  For example, cargo ships usually have a limited crew on board. So, using technology will help them get their jobs done easier.

What is this technology? For instance, crew members can control the loading of cargo with remote controls. This gives them more time to check that all ship functions are working before departure.

The captain of the ship also benefits from IoT. Technology provides better control over the navigation of the ship. It ensures that the ship will meet the estimated time of arrival at its destination. IoT will also help ships navigate through rough conditions at sea.

Data Analytics

Data analytics plays a huge role in route planning. It can also prepare ships for unexpected weather conditions while at sea. 

Ships that pass through global shipping routes collect data with each trip. Data includes how long the journey took and how much cargo the ship carried. It can also include the weather conditions the ship faced, how many crew members were on board, and so on.

Data analysts collect this data and analyze it to identify potential threats at sea. The data can also improve the efficiency of each ship as it passes through the major shipping routes. 

Route Management Systems

Most modern ships make use of route management systems. While in the middle of a journey, several factors come into play that can affect the planned route of the ship. Severe weather conditions, blockages, and port congestion affect a ship’s pre-planned route.

Route management systems can help ships plan a more efficient route that can speed up their trip. These systems can also detect unusual patterns while in the middle of the ocean. Additionally, route management systems can suggest new routes while sailing.

Shipping routes are responsible for 2.5% of carbon emissions globally.

Carbon emissions have become a global problem that a lot of major industries are trying to solve. The shipping industry contributes an estimated 940M metric tons of carbon emissions yearly. The good news is that the shipping industry is now working on decarbonization goals. The aim is to reduce the shipping industry’s carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.

Final Word

Shipping has been around for centuries. Shipping routes are responsible for the majority of global trade. Today, the goal is to improve shipping routes while reducing carbon emissions. As technology develops, experts can also discover more shipping routes. New routes can help speed up the global transport of goods.

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