Artificial Intelligence: Israeli Shipping Co Deploys AI to Sniff Out Cargo Misdeclarations

August 20, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence, News

The system detects mis-declared hazardous cargo before its loading.

The 75-year-old Israeli shipping company ZIM operates globally with four operational headquarters and regional offices around the world to service its 30,000+ customers. In a drive to make its vessels, crew, cargo, and the global supply chain safer, ZIM has developed and implemented ZIMGuard. It is an AI-based software to detect and flag hazardous cargo that has been mis-declared by the shipper. (Hellenic Shipping News)

The dangers of cargo misdeclaration

Hazardous, mis-declared cargo has been the root cause of many maritime accidents in recent years. These disasters result in heavy loss of property and life, as well as damage the environment.

In one incident in May 2019, an explosion occurred on the KMTC container ship docked in Thailand. Over 130 people were hospitalized in the resulting fire which could only be put out after many hours. The cause of the fire was an onboard container of calcium hypochlorite and chlorinated paraffin. Their owners had mis-declared these hazardous materials.

In an effort to curtail their occurrence, shipping companies have imposed additional fees on the transportation of hazardous cargo and its misdeclaration.

A group of 17 shipping lines also collaborated to create the Cargo Incident Notification System. This is a platofrm to share information about cargo-related accidents.


ZIMGuard is a cutting-edge, AI screening software system that can detect misdeclarations of hazardous cargo in real-time. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), including Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities and Machine Learning, the system scans cargo declarations at an early stage before the hazardous cargo comes aboard the vessel.

It snags omissions, concealments, and errors in shipper declarations.

By alerting operations personnel regarding such defectively-reported and hazardous materials, it can save lives by preventing accidents.

“Since launching ZIMGuard, we were alerted to dozens of cases of mis-declared cargo,” said Eli Glickman, ZIM President & CEO in a statement. “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.”

ZIM has already operationalized ZIMGuard at major ports in China, the US, and Israel. By end-2020, the system will cover all of ZIM’s lines.

Related Story:     Using AI to Unearth Unexploded Bombs in Cambodia

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