By: Liza Koren
The shipping industry has a key role in the global economy: 90% of world trade is currently transported over water (the remaining 10% is transported over air and land), and the value of goods crossing waters every year is estimated at $4 trillion. Over the past 50 years, the floor space of ships was increased by 1,500% so that more goods could be transported in each shipment. However, the number of crewmembers was not increased accordingly, and has in fact decreased, a reality that has made it almost impossible to identify and prevent maritime safety issues in time.
Take for example the recent Suez Canal saga after the grounding of the Ever-Given container ship, blocking all traffic through the canal for six days. As one of the world's busiest trade routes, the cost of each hour of obstruction is estimated at $400M, having a significant negative impact as a result on the global prices of oil.
Maritime disasters happen all the time, with varying degrees of severity. These incidents cause great damage to shipping companies, a fact demonstrated by the $2B-worth insurance claims filed in this industry every year. As far as the ship’s systems are concerned, there is no difference between sailing through the Suez Canal or the open sea, and high waters aside, the probability of an accident in both places is the same.
The shipping industry requires innovative technology that can identify possible causes for accidents, so that the crew could handle them before they cause irreversible damage. There are technologies on the market that promote maritime safety, but most of them deal with ship navigation and the prevention of collisions at sea.
Captain’s Eye has developed an AI-based software system that includes cameras installed throughout the ship (engine rooms, deck and general compartments), through which many types of accidents could be prevented. The system analyzes the videos and gives immediate real-time alerts regarding a range of malfunctions - sea pollution caused by human error, smoke, leaks, failure to wear protective gear (which could lead to injuries), negligence in operating the ship and security issues. The system developed by the company enables the fleet manager to control and monitor the ship's operations and assists the crew at sea in several matters, thus leading to a significant reduction in operating costs.
75% of Accidents Are Caused by Human Error
The company's founders are Doron Oizerovich, CTO and a Colonel (Ret.) in the Ministry of Defense’s MAFAT technological unit, and Uri Ben Dor, CEO and a Navy Captain (Ret.). During his military service, Ben Dor commanded complex maritime operations that crystallized his realization that there is a need for a technological system that would detect accidents, malfunctions on deck and would maintain crew and ship safety.
Ben Dor says that the idea for the startup came into being after talking with two naval reserve officers, who have been working for civil shipping companies for years. "They said they needed a technological solution that would prevent safety incidents that cause a lot of damage to their company and endanger the lives of seamen," he says.
During his military service, Ben Dor took part in military operations far from the State of Israel, and one of the things that troubled him most during military voyages was accidents and malfunctions that could lead to injured crewmembers or damage to the ship's nautical ability. "Evacuation of a crewmember or rescue of a ship, whose maneuverability has been impaired, so far from the shores of Israel, is an operation in itself and may endanger the entire ship and its soldiers," Ben Dor continues, "that is why I could immediately identify with the issues which the civilian shipping companies face, and decided to try and find a solution for the problem".
Captain's Eye was established in August 2020, after the founders did in-depth market analysis and realized that safety issues are of serious concern to shipping companies. They discovered there is no product on the market today that could detect a large range of problems using a single camera. "There are a number of technological solutions for individual safety issues," says Ben Dor, "but there is no comprehensive system that could alert the crew in the event of a problem, and also allow the manager, sitting in his office, to better understand what is happening in his fleet in real time. Our system is based on years of experience and knowledge."
Ben Dor further explains the name chosen for the company - Captain's Eye: "If the captain of the ship, who is the most veteran and experienced person on board, could be everywhere at any given moment, most accidents - 75% of which are caused by human error - would be prevented."
In September 2020, the company was accepted into IN-VENTech Startup Business Program that promotes technological entrepreneurship, in order to locate strategic partners and customers in Israel and abroad. Indeed, the company has grown exponentially since, as has its number of customers.
The Israeli startup signed partnership agreements with three of the world’s leading international container shipping companies, and the product is in advanced stages of development and is already installed on four ships. In the coming months, the company will start piloting seven shipping companies, including XT, ASM and EPS. The company concluded its first substantial round of financing from shipping companies and a private investor to develop a prototype, and is now in the midst of a large round of financing intended to expand the company's operations in additional international markets.