Many containers on board ships are actually filled not with whole products but semi-finished parts, half-processed materials and other constituents of complex, worldwide supply chains.
In accordance with the whole just-in-time industrial philosophy, today’s invention is to enable more flexible finishing and assembly operations whilst at sea.
Factory ships are currently used for fish processing of course, but imagine if you could take for example a robotic car manufacturing plant and build a supertanker-sized ship around it.
Containers full of materials, parts, and subsystems would be loaded on at various docks and completed vehicles dropped off in major marketplaces.
The ship would be receiving data feeds about how many of which parts could be purchased when and where, in order to optimise its route in terms of delivery times and fuel usage.( I can imagine a container factory on the high seas).
This would potentially make the manufacturing processes more globalised and lessen the pressure on land use in populated areas.