The future of the maritime industry will be shaped by technology. Executives in the industry share their views.
The future of the maritime industry will be shaped by data. It may only be in its infancy, but digitalisation efforts will improve shipping in ways many would have never thought possible.
Data is indeed revolutionising the shipping industry and it is enabling us to connect hardware with services, people and other data streams to build better ways of doing business.
This could, for example, involve the use of digital twins to enhance design, construction and operation. This could involve predictive maintenance, increased fuel efficiency and faster emergency response,” Ms Elisabeth Tørstad, Chief Executive Officer Digital Solutions at DNV GL, said. “But it is also about using data to implement better planning and better supply chain management, with less time at sea in ballast and more time actually creating value for customers.”
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of data in the shipping industry is that the potential it holds is only starting to be realised. Once more trust is established in how data is generated, collected and stored, it will become even more valuable to companies.
“We will see a development towards richer instrumentation of systems and structures onboard, more sophisticated software-based control systems, improved connectivity and increased use of big data. And with this, trust becomes increasingly important,” Ms Tørstad stated. “We have to be able to trust the sensors that generate data, the way data is stored, the people who access the data and the algorithms that make sense of the data.”
She added that once trust in data is fully established, machine learning could offer huge advantages, such as increased safety levels, more up-time and even reduced maintenance cost.
For DNV GL, dealing with data is nothing new. The company has acted as a custodian for large amounts of industry data since it was established in 1864. Understanding the growing importance of both data and digitalisation as a whole, DNV GL created a Digital Solutions organisation which began operations in 2018.
The new outfit was created to help DNV GL leverage the full potential of an increasingly digital world and better capture the opportunities in areas such as data sharing, advanced analytics, automation and machine learning. It was structured into five main areas: software solutions solving technical and operational challenges related to industrial operations, data management and quality services, cyber security-services, custom made digital services and the company’s data platform, Veracity.
The latter innovation aims to help maritime firms unlock, qualify, combine and prepare data for analytics and benchmarking.
“Veracity is a cloud based data management platform facilitating secure data sharing and combining data sets for big data analytics. Our Veracity Data Platform is a key enabler for unlocking the value embedded in data.” Ms Tørstad pointed out. Veracity, along with the other four
areas of DNV GL’s Digital Solutions organisation, consists of digital industry experts delivering data smart solutions to assist customers in their digital transformation.
“This transformation holds huge opportunities for the industry, including the maritime sector, to enhance business performance, re-design business models and engage more effectively with stakeholders,” Ms Tørstad explained.
As Ms Tørstad noted, digitalisation and the use of data will offer many opportunities to shipping companies in the coming decades, including safety improvements and cost saving benefits to owners. Those who don’t act risk missing out on these and other benefits.
“By not adopting new technologies, maritime companies risk missing out on the opportunities and benefits that digitalisation brings,” Ms Tørstad said. “We also believe that stakeholders will increasingly demand access to data, as we see with the new EU Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) regulation for example.”
Charting a Future Course
Autonomous ships were among the most exciting topics at the Norway-
Asia Business 2018. Ms Tørstad pointed this form of digitalisation is coming to the shipping industry sooner rather than later.
“I believe that autonomous ships will become a reality in short sea and coastal shipping soon. This will feature specialised ships trading in national waters and within one jurisdiction, like we see with the announced unmanned ship Yara Birkeland that was launched three years ago,” Ms Tørstad stated. “Many steps will be needed before fully unmanned ships can become a reality in deep sea shipping.”
The benefits of autonomous ships are numerous. They will greatly increase safety and operational performance through smart control and support systems. Meanwhile, lower operational costs due to reduced fuel consumption and crew costs are among the economical considerations.
And this isn’t the only change coming to the maritime industry. Earlier this year, the International Maritime Organisation ( IMO) adopted a strategy to reduce the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent before 2050.
The push towards decarbonisation will see more and more ships move away from oil in the coming years. This presents both challenges as well as opportunities with the use of low-carbon alternatives likely to increase significantly.
“The continuing pressure to reduce emissions to air from ships will have a large impact on the shipping industry going forward, most particularly in regards to the choice of fuels,” Ms Tørstad said. “In our 2017 Maritime Energy Transition Outlook, we concluded that oil will no longer be the overwhelming fuel choice for trading vessels in 2050. Natural gas will step up to become the second-most widely used fuel in the industry with new low-carbon alternatives, such as electricity and biofuels, also likely to increase. These low-carbon alternatives could supply nearly a quarter of the fleet in 2050.”