More than 27,000 people from the global shipping industry gathered last week in Athens, Greece for a full week of engaging discussions regarding the major challenges that the shipping industry is facing. Much of the discussion was focused on decarbonisation and the role that emerging digital technologies play in moving toward a net-zero future – key topics of the flagship panel sessions held by Capital Link and TradeWinds, where DeepSea participated.
Here are some key takeaways:
Data explosion and environmental regulations necessitate the need for digital transformation.
Millions of data points can be generated from vessels. Huge databases are needed to manage the vast amounts of data, and skilled people are required to decipher it and turn it into meaningful and actionable insights. The current wave of emerging technologies is a valuable asset to the industry throughout this process. Close collaboration and communication between shipping organisations and start-ups can lead to the development of solutions that meet the pressing needs of the shipping industry.
In the past, the industry’s focus was on efficiency and cost minimisation / profit maximisation. Today, the third key pillar is emission reductions, and the ability to minimise disruption to the fleet when the new environmental regulations kick-in next year. Digitalisation is an important enabler of these objectives. What was done in the past is today done better and more efficiently using digital technologies. When shipping companies know what they want to achieve with strategic technology partners (eg. improving CII ratings and/or reducing fuel consumption), it makes it much easier to find a way to assess, monitor and measure the impact the technology is making.
Technology is no longer a luxury. It is an immediate and mandatory need for shipping organisations.
Applying new technology and changing an existing mindset in a traditionally conservative industry such as shipping can be a challenge. Facing this challenge, some shipping organisations which embrace innovation have created pilot technology programs involving their vessels and fleets – a critical element when developing solutions that address shipping’s most important needs. The shipping industry is slowly starting to realise the benefits achieved through technology, such as reducing CO2 emissions – and simultaneously saving on bunker fuel and optimising cash flow for their organisations. With the new environmental regulations in mind, harnessing proven digital technologies is no longer a matter of choice – but of urgent need.
Digital technologies also help bridge the gap between the crew aboard a vessel and the people ashore. With new and emerging technologies, machines are increasingly helping people to make better decisions – not based on intuition, but based on insights from data. Nevertheless, training people adequately is an increasingly vital part of adapting successfully to the digital era.