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Disruptive tech

Getting Smarter

every day By Paul Bartlett, European Contributor


hose at the forefront of shipping’s digital revolution speak a new language that is unfamiliar to many in shipping. But the impact of digital technology and the business outcomes for the whole of the maritime sphere are very real. Finland’s Wärtsilä, which now describes itself as a “smart technology group,” is the latest of the marine machinery heavyweights to introduce a “smart marine ecosystem,” which the company unveiled at a London press conference late in November. The ecosystem concept, which has been adopted by other main players in the maritime sphere including ABB, DNV GL and Rolls-Royce, is based on widescale industrial collaboration and knowledge-sharing in all digital aspects, for everyone’s benefit. T h i s m ay s o u n d r a t h e r n e b u l o u s , particularly to seafarers for whom connectivity at sea remains, even today, a remote concept. The vast majority of ships’ masters are still accustomed to once-a-day noon 32 Marine Log // February 2018

reports and very little other routine shipshore communication. However, when Wärtsilä unveiled its new ecosystem, the company’s Marine Solutions President, Roger Holm, went out of his way to give some helpful day-to-day examples of what could be achieved as a result of greater collaboration, data and knowledge-sharing, via the new ecosystem. The company has already opened one Digital Acceleration Center (DAC) in Helsinki, a facility which is intended “to speed up innovation to co-create with customers a range of new business models and solutions”. A second DAC was due to open in Singapore in December, and two more—one in Central America and one in North America—in 2018. Holm explained that shipping’s inefficiencies today, which are still largely taken for granted, are a waste of the sector’s resources. Yet a future that is more and more connected offers lots of opportunities for more effective operation through smart technology.

He defined the three main areas of ‘waste’ as overcapacity, inadequate port-to-port fuel efficiency, and time wasted when entering ports and other high-traffic areas. Eliminating this waste is the basis of Wärtsilä’s ecosystem thinking, Holm continued, and he outlined four ways in which the shipping industry will be re-shaped. Shared capacity will achieve higher load factors and reduce shipping costs per unit; big data analytics will optimize ship operation and energy management; intelligent vessels will incorporate greater automation and optimized processes; and smart ports will be able to offer faster and more efficient cargo handling and intermodal transfer. Two real-life examples demonstrating the results of this new thinking were discussed. In one, Wärtsilä has worked with Teekay Offshore on new technology for shuttle tankers, which has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% and emissions by 40%. Supported by a $16 million g r a n t f ro m No r w e g i a n G ove r n m e n t


Wärtsilä’s new ‘ecosystem’ demonstrates practical results

Marine Log February 2018  
Marine Log February 2018