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AI-Based System Detects Cargo Misdeclarations to Enhance Safety 

new advanced computing system to help identify misdeclared cargoes
(file photo)

Published Aug 17, 2020 5:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

Dealing with misdeclared cargo and its consequences is one of the most challenging issues for the shipping industry. Believed to be at the root of major marine accidents, including fires causing loss of life and significant damage, shipping lines have been seeking to develop an approach to detect and reduce the risks of misdeclarations. 

In July 2020, the National Cargo Bureau reported that its recent inspection initiatives revealed an alarming number of containers included misdeclared dangerous cargoes. Citing the fact that on average a containership suffers a major fire every 60 days, the NCB reported that it conducted more than 32,000 dangerous dry and tank good inspections in the U.S. in 2019, finding that more than six percent of the containers were carrying dangerous goods that had been misdeclared. 

Several carriers have imposed additional fees as a potential solution for this recurring problem, but a new approach is seeking to use the power of advanced computing to decrease the risks of misdeclaration. Zim has developed and implemented an innovative AI-based screening software to detect and identify in real-time incidents of misdeclared hazardous cargo before loading to vessel.

The new system scans shippers’ cargo declarations at an early stage and flags potential cases of wrongly declared cargo. The system harnesses Artificial Intelligence (AI), including Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities and Machine Learning, to analyze documentation and alert operations personnel in real-time of occurrences of omission, concealment, or erroneous declaration of hazardous cargo.

“Coping with Misdeclarations of hazardous cargo, which can create a serious risk, is challenging,” said Captain Zadok Radecker, ZIM Global Hazardous & Special Cargos Manager, in charge of Cargo Security. “The new system has proven to be effective and on target. It enables us to identify, investigate, and clarify any issue prior to loading, ensuring the safety of the crew and ship, and the safety of the supply chain in general.”

Zim reports that the system has been implemented at major ports in China, the U.S., and Israel. They expect to deploy it across Zim’s operations by the end of 2020.

“Since launching ZIMGuard, we were alerted to dozens of cases of misdeclared cargo,” said Eli Glickman, ZIM President & CEO. “In view of ZIMGuard’s potential contribution to the safety of the global supply chain, ZIM is willing to commercially offer licensing this system to parties who may be interested in utilizing it."