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Evolution of Maritime Smart Shipping Strategies

Over the last few months, the topic of smart shipping and the various purposes of maritime IoT has been receiving increased media attention. A key point to remember is these terms mean different things to different people within the shipping ecosystem.

I will attempt to shed some light upon these….The uses of smart shipping technology for a ship owner, to a charterer, a ship manager, or an operator will vary significantly. One is primarily maintaining the asset’s value and utilisation as best as possible, another may to simply enable the vessel to reach its destination as quick and cost effectively, or another to maintain optimal performance of vessel operations.

Companies providing solutions will vary in their approach to each segment and how they convey their solutions. Software control of major marine equipment has been with us for over 30 years and with the capacity of microchips and memory increasing so has the sophistication and proliferation of that control so much so that, beyond the galley kitchen, it is rare to find some aspect or equipment of modern ships that is not monitored and/or controlled by a microprocessor. Connecting these to a shore-based intelligence (artificial or otherwise) is a sensible step.

Within maritime digital application vendors, the race is wide open, and how companies target potential customer group differs. One notable observation, from myself, is that everyone seems to be focused on the merchant market and the time to build up a critical mass of dominance in this area will lengthy.

Solutions within the maritime connectivity service provider market are also building and we are seeing some clear frontrunners, particularly Inmarsat and KVH Industries.

However, what some people may not realise is the strength, and clever strategies deployed by marine OEMs. In this piece, I wanted to give a clear overview of the key players in this part of the ecosystem.

In the case of marine OEMs, these firms have quickly envisage the potential for connected vessels with new operations of innovation or cost savings, and adjusted their businesses accordingly.

This has been a case from moving CAPEX business models for machinery to SaaS model for value added services or service included within the purchase of equipment.

This means the owners of the connectivity solution onboard the vessel need to allocate or allow some capacity for equipment machineries.

Recently, I interviewed Wärtsilä in regards to Fleet Operations Solution for voyage planning and fleet performance management.

The firm offers an entry point to an element of its smart shipping service with Navi-Planner which incorporates a modular approach; the first being “tracking and awareness”. In some cases, no upfront payments are required for installing a module onboard. Obviously to fully utilise the Warstila’s smart shipping solutions, radar and bridge sensors are necessary.

The primary object of the tool is allow an operator or charterer to understand their fleets in real-time, see planned routes, contingent deviations and forecast vessel/fleet schedules. Connectivity is key and VSAT, and even MSS connectivity needs sufficient bandwidth for use. Interestingly, Wärtsilä is offering customers the connectivity capabilities (like a service provider) as part of its fleet operation solutions, however, how many vessels they’ve equipped as a service provider is unknown. My guess is less than 500 but more than 100. (However, I should add this is only a portion of Wärtsilä’s smart shipping portfolio, and customers brought from the Eniram acquisition, vessel traffic services and others means Wärtsilä has a hefty number of vessel subscriptions.).

Monthly fees for Navi-Planner increase with additional modules of compliance reporting, voyage and ports and also hull-monitoring and engine supervision are included. The compliance and reporting module is particularly useful for charterers, hull and engine module for ship owners to extoll the productivity of their asset and voyage and ports solution for any companies looking to augment their logistics capabilities.

While Wärtsilä has been pushing focused services of a vessel’s functionality, ABB, with its ABB Ability™ offering has been gathering pace. In another interview with Antto Shemeikka, Vice President Digital Services, ABB Marine & Ports, the company has seen an increased interest in its digital maritime technology over the last 18 months.

Moreover, ABB also launched its ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite to aid in decision making. The firm believes with the greater use of vessel operational data, combined with its AI and analytics feature, included in ABB Ability™ Genix, a reduction of fuel consumption by up to ten per cent is possible. Furthermore, the technology has other benefits such as maintenance savings which utilises condition-based monitoring and early identification of potential malfunctions. All these factors can improve vessel uptime and reduce essential service visits to vessels by as much as 30 per cent.

ABB has refrained from getting too involved in whether the vessel has connectivity, and providing this if not. It is unclear why the company has chosen not to get too involved in this area as connectivity is vital for its solutions Valour’s take is in the case of Wärtsilä, that decision was probably thrust upon them. Wärtsilä has a significant market in after-sales. Its primary products are great big heavy marine diesel engines which need regular overhauls. Most ships won’t have the crew numbers for this activity so will call in a Wärtsilä team or one of the licensed providers to strip the engines. Many of these ships are older models and, in order to increase that side of their business, they will have offered extended warranty provided the ship engines can report into a Wärtsilä base, so it was in their commercial interest to hook up with a connectivity supplier. ABB ‘s marine business is primarily electronic solutions and digital offerings, which traditionally have a smaller after-sales market than other vessel systems. For example, distribution and control systems are rarely overhauled.

ABB has recently developed  a new module within its ABB Ability™ Marine Advisory – OCTOPUS for the EU-funded ATLANTIS project that provides actionable insights to help onshore operators optimise the planning of missions from port to wind farm, cut transfer times between land and wind farms, and reduce vessel waiting time and working times on-site.

The potential for this new module goes beyond a original sector. ABB’s vision is to develop the module to serve multiple sectors, such as the cruise industry, where it could be used to plan short routes, and the offshore oil and gas industry to map supply operations for rigs and floating offshore units.

ABB estimates that the system is currently utilised by around 90 per cent of the semi-submersible heavy lift ships in operation worldwide.

By the end of 2021, Valour Consultancy anticipates more than 60,000 smart shipping subscriptions will be sold by marine OEMs, representing a hefty chunk of changes, nearly $235 million globally. More increasingly, we foresee monthly subscription rates increasing over the next two to three years.

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A key point to remember is these terms mean different things to different people within the shipping ecosystem. I will attempt to shed some light upon these….The uses of smart shipping technology for a ship owner, to a charterer, a ship manager, or an operator will vary significantly. One is primarily maintaining the asset’s value and utilisation as best as possible, another may to simply enable the vessel to reach its destination as quick and cost effectively, or another to maintain optimal performance of vessel operations. Companies providing solutions will vary in their approach to each segment and how they convey their solutions. Software control of major marine equipment has been with us for over 30 years and with the capacity of microchips and memory increasing so has the sophistication and proliferation of that control so much so that, beyond the galley kitchen, it is rare to find some aspect or equipment of modern ships that is not monitored and/or controlled by a microprocessor. Connecting these to a shore-based intelligence (artificial or otherwise) is a sensible step. Within maritime digital application vendors, the race is wide open, and how companies target potential customer group differs. One notable observation, from myself, is that everyone seems to be focused on the merchant market and the time to build up a critical mass of dominance in this area will lengthy. Solutions within the maritime connectivity service provider market are also building and we are seeing some clear frontrunners, particularly Inmarsat and KVH Industries. However, what some people may not realise is the strength, and clever strategies deployed by marine OEMs. In this piece, I wanted to give a clear overview of the key players in this part of the ecosystem. In the case of marine OEMs, these firms have quickly envisage the potential for connected vessels with new operations of innovation or cost savings, and adjusted their businesses accordingly. This has been a case from moving CAPEX business models for machinery to SaaS model for value added services or service included within the purchase of equipment. This means the owners of the connectivity solution onboard the vessel need to allocate or allow some capacity for equipment machineries. Recently, I interviewed Wärtsilä in regards to Fleet Operations Solution for voyage planning and fleet performance management. The firm offers an entry point to an element of its smart shipping service with Navi-Planner which incorporates a modular approach; the first being “tracking and awareness”. In some cases, no upfront payments are required for installing a module onboard. Obviously to fully utilise the Warstila’s smart shipping solutions, radar and bridge sensors are necessary. The primary object of the tool is allow an operator or charterer to understand their fleets in real-time, see planned routes, contingent deviations and forecast vessel/fleet schedules. Connectivity is key and VSAT, and even MSS connectivity needs sufficient bandwidth for use. Interestingly, Wärtsilä is offering customers the connectivity capabilities (like a service provider) as part of its fleet operation solutions, however, how many vessels they’ve equipped as a service provider is unknown. My guess is less than 500 but more than 100. (However, I should add this is only a portion of Wärtsilä’s smart shipping portfolio, and customers brought from the Eniram acquisition, vessel traffic services and others means Wärtsilä has a hefty number of vessel subscriptions.). Monthly fees for Navi-Planner increase with additional modules of compliance reporting, voyage and ports and also hull-monitoring and engine supervision are included. The compliance and reporting module is particularly useful for charterers, hull and engine module for ship owners to extoll the productivity of their asset and voyage and ports solution for any companies looking to augment their logistics capabilities. While Wärtsilä has been pushing focused services of a vessel’s functionality, ABB, with its ABB Ability™ offering has been gathering pace. In another interview with Antto Shemeikka, Vice President Digital Services, ABB Marine & Ports, the company has seen an increased interest in its digital maritime technology over the last 18 months. Moreover, ABB also launched its ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite to aid in decision making. The firm believes with the greater use of vessel operational data, combined with its AI and analytics feature, included in ABB Ability™ Genix, a reduction of fuel consumption by up to ten per cent is possible. Furthermore, the technology has other benefits such as maintenance savings which utilises condition-based monitoring and early identification of potential malfunctions. All these factors can improve vessel uptime and reduce essential service visits to vessels by as much as 30 per cent. ABB has refrained from getting too involved in whether the vessel has connectivity, and providing this if not. It is unclear why the company has chosen not to get too involved in this area as connectivity is vital for its solutions Valour’s take is in the case of Wärtsilä, that decision was probably thrust upon them. Wärtsilä has a significant market in after-sales. Its primary products are great big heavy marine diesel engines which need regular overhauls. Most ships won’t have the crew numbers for this activity so will call in a Wärtsilä team or one of the licensed providers to strip the engines. Many of these ships are older models and, in order to increase that side of their business, they will have offered extended warranty provided the ship engines can report into a Wärtsilä base, so it was in their commercial interest to hook up with a connectivity supplier. ABB ‘s marine business is primarily electronic solutions and digital offerings, which traditionally have a smaller after-sales market than other vessel systems. For example, distribution and control systems are rarely overhauled. ABB has recently developed  a new module within its ABB Ability™ Marine Advisory - OCTOPUS for the EU-funded ATLANTIS project that provides actionable insights to help onshore operators optimise the planning of missions from port to wind farm, cut transfer times between land and wind farms, and reduce vessel waiting time and working times on-site. The potential for this new module goes beyond a original sector. ABB’s vision is to develop the module to serve multiple sectors, such as the cruise industry, where it could be used to plan short routes, and the offshore oil and gas industry to map supply operations for rigs and floating offshore units. ABB estimates that the system is currently utilised by around 90 per cent of the semi-submersible heavy lift ships in operation worldwide. By the end of 2021, Valour Consultancy anticipates more than 60,000 smart shipping subscriptions will be sold by marine OEMs, representing a hefty chunk of changes, nearly $235 million globally. More increasingly, we foresee monthly subscription rates increasing over the next two to three years. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Smart Shipping Has Arrived

One thing is certain within the maritime industry, smart shipping has arrived. However, what most people will think is “What is Smart Shipping?”

After speaking to range of different players in the ecosystem; I will endeavor to try and provide some understanding of this.

Smart shipping, ship digitalisation, maritime IoT, maritime digital applications; all these terms essentially refer advancements in ship operations, maintenance, performance optimisation via the use of technology and broadband communications.

Over the course of developing our latest report on smart shipping – The Future of Smart Shipping and Maritime Digital Applications, we discovered a plethora of opinions and interpretations about the aforementioned terms from a variety of players in the ecosystem.

Valour Consultancy defines a smart vessel as any vessel with applications to cover remote machinery diagnostics, CCTV/video connection services, predictive maintenance and cloud-based storage. To achieve this, the vessel must have broadband connectivity capabilities such as VSAT or cellular, and a vessel management system.

However, proclaiming how many smart ships are operating around the world is challenging as this category is catered for by a multitude of players for each of the above components.

Furthermore, for example, Samsung Heavy Industries (a ship builder) constructs a merchant vessel and deploys its SSI solution, sells the vessel to CMA CMG, who purchase several pieces of equipment from ABB and Wartsila, then also add some additional IoT services from Marlink, its connectivity service provider, and also subscribing to a data analytics company, such as NAPA.

Each of the parties will claim a sale, or subscription service for this one smart vessel. As such, calculating the total number of smart ships is rather challenging because if we were to sum each smart ship subscription or service, it would amount to a very high number indeed misrepresenting magnitude of the market.

Key Suspects

Presently, the maritime equipment manufacturers hold the majority of smart shipping services, with companies such as Kongsberg, Wärtsilä, and ABB being quick to extend their digital offerings to existing business operations. For example, as widely publicised, Kongsberg has been heavily involved in the Yara Birkeland, an autonomous container vessel currently being completed and commissioned in Norway. Although the subject of this piece is smart shipping, this element is a key step in the evolution, ultimately, to autonomous vessels.

Kongsberg’s intelligent digital platform, Kognifai, enables 3rd party data analytics companies to bring their solutions to a much larger shipping fleet. In addition, one of the company’s key smart shipping and IoT solutions is “Vessel Insight Benchmark”. The new application aims to provide ship metrics and data insights to improve a vessel or a fleet of vessel’s performance and was launched in the middle of 2020. The maritime digital application looks to provide a data-driven insight into the vessel operating profile compared to vessels of similar size and type. The service is based on common definitions and high quality data that provides an instant historic perspective. It is understood 37 per cent of the firm’s maritime revenues are recurring basis. The firm had more 30,000 vessels with vessel insight installed.

The Finnish company, Wärtsilä, defining its products and services within the smart shipping realm in itself would be a 50,000 word thesis focusing upon operational efficiencies and cost savings. However, a short summary includes the firm serves Anglo-Eastern’s fleet, more than 600 vessels, with its Fleet Optimisation Solution, a digitalisation suite that enhances efficiency and performance via route optimisation, speed management, weather routing, ship-to-shore reporting, and fleet performance management to reduce fuel consumption. Other services offered include a new online platform that allows companies to manage their installations more efficiently, and the remote accessibility of experts. This tool leverages artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics to remotely monitor equipment and systems in real time. The firm has quickly transformed its business model to a SaaS rather than traditional CAPEX business model. Consequently, managing the lifecycle of an asset has become paramount and performance gains are achieved via upgrades, fuel conversions, and using data analytics and artificial intelligence to support its customer business decisions. Even by the end of 2019, the business of equipment sales to service revenues were equally split.

ABB launched ABB Ability in 2017, digital portfolio that offers hundreds of digital solutions to increase productivity and safety cost effectively. The solution is part of an integrated global network of round-the-clock operations centers that can take care of the full scope of ABB systems on board vessels from afar. Remote diagnostics of shipboard equipment has become a key feature of shipping over the last decade. Sensor-driven onboard monitoring software that fully integrates with analytics ashore plays a central role in facilitating this approach and ABB believes that there are clear maintenance savings available to owners that commit to its package as digitally connected on-duty engineers can solve cases remotely 24/7.

Traditional connectivity providers such as Inmarsat, KVH Industries and others are also embracing the smart shipping revolution. For example, Inmarsat now provides dedicated IoT and operational service called Fleet Data. The service or digital ecosystem enables 3rd party data analytic vendors or other solutions to “plug-in” their applications for Inmarsat’s FX vessels. This could be simply to aggregate data functions allowing the user of the service to easily view, monitor, analyse and compare performances of vessel operations. Inmarsat has made Fleet Data available to all its FX and FB vessels – more than 40,000 vessels. The service is offered on a yearly subscription basis and it is estimated that the basic package starts from $1,000 per year, however, costs obviously vary upon the application’s data usage from a bandwidth and capacity standpoint.

KVH provides a similar stand-alone IoT service which it launched in June 2019. The solution has three modes: Watch Flow, for 24/7, machine-to-machine (M2M) data delivery compatible with all IoT applications; Flow Intervention for a boosted data capacity and speeds for bulk file transfers, application updates, and general access to the onboard endpoint. Remote Expert Intervention is an on-demand high-speed session for remote face-to-face support and remote equipment access. The company hopes KVH Watch service enable hardware manufacturers, data analytic companies and other IoT service firms to have their own dedicated VSAT terminal.

The Watch Flow plan starts from as little as $99 per month and customers do not need to purchase an AgilePlans subscription for the IoT service. The price of the plan is primarily dependent on the number of sensors and data requirements of the user.

As stated above, many companies are addressing elements of the smart shipping market in different ways. This patchwork of solutions is a start but still in the primary stages of development.

The availability and price of ship satellite connectivity is much better than, say, 5 years ago, and, providing simple solutions to streamline processes onboard a vessel is easy to translate into operational and financial gains.

It is expected that a swarm of bigger companies will develop holistic system solutions that will provide a complete oversight and co-ordination for all the software inputs feeding it. These may be companies outside of the maritime sphere.

Market Dynamics

Satellite connectivity is becoming ever more cost effective. It’s highly commoditized and we will see a raft of mergers and acquisitions in the next 18 months within the maritime connectivity sphere.

One natural strategy for service providers and operators will be to include and upsell more value added services. Cybersecurity protection and IoT solutions will become focal services in the next two years. Services providers will likely generate more than 40 per cent of their revenues from these new services rather than the connectivity airtime within this period.

We will also see it as much more common practice for hardware companies, such as Wartsila or Kongsberg to own their communication terminals onboard customer vessels. Control and accessibility of their resources will be more critical than ever. KVH Industries will likely see some strong upsides from this trend.

Valour Consultancy’s key takeaways

1.      The initial stages of the smart shipping evolution are now fully developed.

2.      A concise and clear definition of a smart vessel is possible, how many smart ships sailing the oceans is still unclear. However, there are many smart shipping solutions being used.

3.      Following the last point, the number of maritime digital applications has exploded and hundreds of vendors are pushing their services.

4.      Large number of acquisitions will be undertaken by the leading companies of hardware manufacturers and service providers.

5.      Service providers will become kingmakers in this field by 2026 onwards, we believe they will quickly purchase the leading 3rd party maritime analytic companies.

6.      The end game is autonomous vessels.

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However, what most people will think is “What is Smart Shipping?” After speaking to range of different players in the ecosystem; I will endeavor to try and provide some understanding of this. Smart shipping, ship digitalisation, maritime IoT, maritime digital applications; all these terms essentially refer advancements in ship operations, maintenance, performance optimisation via the use of technology and broadband communications. Over the course of developing our latest report on smart shipping – The Future of Smart Shipping and Maritime Digital Applications, we discovered a plethora of opinions and interpretations about the aforementioned terms from a variety of players in the ecosystem. Valour Consultancy defines a smart vessel as any vessel with applications to cover remote machinery diagnostics, CCTV/video connection services, predictive maintenance and cloud-based storage. To achieve this, the vessel must have broadband connectivity capabilities such as VSAT or cellular, and a vessel management system. However, proclaiming how many smart ships are operating around the world is challenging as this category is catered for by a multitude of players for each of the above components. Furthermore, for example, Samsung Heavy Industries (a ship builder) constructs a merchant vessel and deploys its SSI solution, sells the vessel to CMA CMG, who purchase several pieces of equipment from ABB and Wartsila, then also add some additional IoT services from Marlink, its connectivity service provider, and also subscribing to a data analytics company, such as NAPA. Each of the parties will claim a sale, or subscription service for this one smart vessel. As such, calculating the total number of smart ships is rather challenging because if we were to sum each smart ship subscription or service, it would amount to a very high number indeed misrepresenting magnitude of the market.

Key Suspects

Presently, the maritime equipment manufacturers hold the majority of smart shipping services, with companies such as Kongsberg, Wärtsilä, and ABB being quick to extend their digital offerings to existing business operations. For example, as widely publicised, Kongsberg has been heavily involved in the Yara Birkeland, an autonomous container vessel currently being completed and commissioned in Norway. Although the subject of this piece is smart shipping, this element is a key step in the evolution, ultimately, to autonomous vessels. Kongsberg’s intelligent digital platform, Kognifai, enables 3rd party data analytics companies to bring their solutions to a much larger shipping fleet. In addition, one of the company’s key smart shipping and IoT solutions is “Vessel Insight Benchmark”. The new application aims to provide ship metrics and data insights to improve a vessel or a fleet of vessel’s performance and was launched in the middle of 2020. The maritime digital application looks to provide a data-driven insight into the vessel operating profile compared to vessels of similar size and type. The service is based on common definitions and high quality data that provides an instant historic perspective. It is understood 37 per cent of the firm’s maritime revenues are recurring basis. The firm had more 30,000 vessels with vessel insight installed. The Finnish company, Wärtsilä, defining its products and services within the smart shipping realm in itself would be a 50,000 word thesis focusing upon operational efficiencies and cost savings. However, a short summary includes the firm serves Anglo-Eastern’s fleet, more than 600 vessels, with its Fleet Optimisation Solution, a digitalisation suite that enhances efficiency and performance via route optimisation, speed management, weather routing, ship-to-shore reporting, and fleet performance management to reduce fuel consumption. Other services offered include a new online platform that allows companies to manage their installations more efficiently, and the remote accessibility of experts. This tool leverages artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics to remotely monitor equipment and systems in real time. The firm has quickly transformed its business model to a SaaS rather than traditional CAPEX business model. Consequently, managing the lifecycle of an asset has become paramount and performance gains are achieved via upgrades, fuel conversions, and using data analytics and artificial intelligence to support its customer business decisions. Even by the end of 2019, the business of equipment sales to service revenues were equally split. ABB launched ABB Ability in 2017, digital portfolio that offers hundreds of digital solutions to increase productivity and safety cost effectively. The solution is part of an integrated global network of round-the-clock operations centers that can take care of the full scope of ABB systems on board vessels from afar. Remote diagnostics of shipboard equipment has become a key feature of shipping over the last decade. Sensor-driven onboard monitoring software that fully integrates with analytics ashore plays a central role in facilitating this approach and ABB believes that there are clear maintenance savings available to owners that commit to its package as digitally connected on-duty engineers can solve cases remotely 24/7. Traditional connectivity providers such as Inmarsat, KVH Industries and others are also embracing the smart shipping revolution. For example, Inmarsat now provides dedicated IoT and operational service called Fleet Data. The service or digital ecosystem enables 3rd party data analytic vendors or other solutions to “plug-in” their applications for Inmarsat’s FX vessels. This could be simply to aggregate data functions allowing the user of the service to easily view, monitor, analyse and compare performances of vessel operations. Inmarsat has made Fleet Data available to all its FX and FB vessels – more than 40,000 vessels. The service is offered on a yearly subscription basis and it is estimated that the basic package starts from $1,000 per year, however, costs obviously vary upon the application’s data usage from a bandwidth and capacity standpoint. KVH provides a similar stand-alone IoT service which it launched in June 2019. The solution has three modes: Watch Flow, for 24/7, machine-to-machine (M2M) data delivery compatible with all IoT applications; Flow Intervention for a boosted data capacity and speeds for bulk file transfers, application updates, and general access to the onboard endpoint. Remote Expert Intervention is an on-demand high-speed session for remote face-to-face support and remote equipment access. The company hopes KVH Watch service enable hardware manufacturers, data analytic companies and other IoT service firms to have their own dedicated VSAT terminal. The Watch Flow plan starts from as little as $99 per month and customers do not need to purchase an AgilePlans subscription for the IoT service. The price of the plan is primarily dependent on the number of sensors and data requirements of the user. As stated above, many companies are addressing elements of the smart shipping market in different ways. This patchwork of solutions is a start but still in the primary stages of development. The availability and price of ship satellite connectivity is much better than, say, 5 years ago, and, providing simple solutions to streamline processes onboard a vessel is easy to translate into operational and financial gains. It is expected that a swarm of bigger companies will develop holistic system solutions that will provide a complete oversight and co-ordination for all the software inputs feeding it. These may be companies outside of the maritime sphere.

Market Dynamics

Satellite connectivity is becoming ever more cost effective. It’s highly commoditized and we will see a raft of mergers and acquisitions in the next 18 months within the maritime connectivity sphere. One natural strategy for service providers and operators will be to include and upsell more value added services. Cybersecurity protection and IoT solutions will become focal services in the next two years. Services providers will likely generate more than 40 per cent of their revenues from these new services rather than the connectivity airtime within this period. We will also see it as much more common practice for hardware companies, such as Wartsila or Kongsberg to own their communication terminals onboard customer vessels. Control and accessibility of their resources will be more critical than ever. KVH Industries will likely see some strong upsides from this trend.

Valour Consultancy’s key takeaways

1.      The initial stages of the smart shipping evolution are now fully developed. 2.      A concise and clear definition of a smart vessel is possible, how many smart ships sailing the oceans is still unclear. However, there are many smart shipping solutions being used. 3.      Following the last point, the number of maritime digital applications has exploded and hundreds of vendors are pushing their services. 4.      Large number of acquisitions will be undertaken by the leading companies of hardware manufacturers and service providers. 5.      Service providers will become kingmakers in this field by 2026 onwards, we believe they will quickly purchase the leading 3rd party maritime analytic companies. 6.      The end game is autonomous vessels. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Market Roundup on Maritime Connectivity Acquisitions

Acquisitions in Maritime Connectivity

Over the last two months, the maritime and offshore satellite connectivity market has been sparked with a bout of merger and acquisition activities.

ViaSat to acquire Rignet

In late December 2020, ViaSat announced an agreement to acquire RigNet, an American energy connectivity provider for approximately $222 million. It is believed RigNet’s customer base in the energy market is of strong interest to ViaSat, with the upcoming launch of ViaSat-3, a new constellation of three satellites.

About RigNet

Founded in 2001, RigNet is a US-based service provider of connectivity services, applications and cybersecurity solutions primarily for the offshore oil, gas and energy market. The company is headquartered in Houston (USA) and also has offices in the UK, Singapore, Brazil and another US office in Louisiana. It employs roughly 650 staff globally.

In its latest publicly released financials, Q3 2020, the firm recorded revenues of almost $161 million for the first nine months of 2020, down by $18 million from the same period in 2019. RigNet recorded a net loss of $36.5 million for the same period in 2020, almost double of that in 2019. Not exactly a rosy trajectory over the last two years.

The company divides its business into four segments: managed communications services (MCS), applications and IoT, systems integration, and corporate with its biggest segment, MCS, suffering in 2020 compared to 2019.

However, not all is doom and gloom when RigNet, in October 2020, announced a multiple-year contract with an undisclosed offshore drilling contractor to provide fully MCS and global satellite access to its entire global drilling fleet. The new contract also includes RigNet’s machine learning platform, Intelie, and other supplementary applications, intelligence, and network security solutions.

One key challenges the company has faced is the diminishing number of sites that it manages for MCS; a count in Q3 2020 noted 1,190 sites compared to 1,229 in Q2 2020. In Q3 2019, the firm held 1,386 sites.

Valour’s Take

In Valour’s opinion, the justifications for ViaSat intent to purchase RigNet is not some paradigm leap in market growth or unseen grab of untapped assets.

The move is relatively simple one. RigNet provides a relatively steady business in an uncertain business environment, the energy sector, at the moment.

It allows ViaSat to slowly grow its nascent maritime connectivity proposition and meld it with RigNet’s well-known managed communications services business.

This business has a reasonable array of customers, 500 companies, which encompasses 369 offshore production sites, 173 maritime vessels and a number of other sites.

Finally, one of the main quotes of the great Warren Buffet, always try and buy under-priced assets. At the moment, most energy related companies are relatively lowly priced.

Marlink proposed acquisition of ITC Global

Marlink Group, owned by Apax Partners (France), has signed an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of ITC Global, a maritime and energy service provide owned by Panasonic. The value of the deal as yet to be disclosed, if it ever will.

My question is what value ITC Global brings to Marlink Group, the leading retail maritime service provider?

ITC Global

ITC Global is an American satellite-based communications provider which primarily serves the energy, mining, maritime, and NGO markets. The company was originally set up in 2001 and has its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Interestingly, the firm was acquired by Panasonic in 2015 and now operates as a subsidiary of the Japanese company.

In January 2020, ITC Global partnered with Inmarsat to expand its service to providing Ka-band coverage to energy, maritime and yachting customers. The five-year strategic partnership means ITC Global will act as a reseller for FX. ITC Global’s parent company, Panasonic Avionics, signed a similar agreement with Inmarsat in 2018 to provide inflight connectivity.

Valour’s Take

Marlink Group’s potential acquisition of ITC Global is an interesting move within the maritime connectivity sphere.

Not to second guess Marlink’s case, the firm’s maritime satellite connectivity solution, SeaLink, has made remarkable progress in recent years. Over 2020, the firm increased its SeaLink vessel count by 1,000 from 2019.

That said, Marlink Group, in the past, has not been shy to purchase some key players; OmniAccess, Telemar Group, Radio Holland’s VSAT distribution business over 2016 and 2017. Nonetheless, Marlink has strategised a strong surge of organic growth since.

The proposed purchase of ITC highlights two things. Firstly, this period of organic growth has possibly to come to an end. In the Sigmoid Curve, there are critical phases. Development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. To arrest the decline, it is vital to catch the next opportunity on the rise, before the current one fells. I believe we are in a spell of acquisitions and mergers within the industry with companies scoping out potential suitors and targets.

Marlink Group is very well known for its presence in the maritime connectivity commercial merchant market, and high-end leisure. As such, ITC Global’s strong maritime offshore energy, passenger and enterprise customer base provides Marlink group with a new market segment to master.

Looking at this from other side of the fence, in my opinion, Panasonic Group has conducted a thorough review of its business operations over the last twelve months. This will indubitably entailed picking which businesses and operations will see the group through, in the long term. Unfortunately, it would seem, Panasonic doesn’t see ITC Global as a long term fit for its business portfolio.

Finally, with the downturn of the energy sector, and speculating that Panasonic were looking for an exit plan in maritime, Marlink Group will likely achieve a very good deal price for ITC Global.

What’s next

It is predicted we will see three more notable mergers and acquisitions over the course of 2021.

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Acquisitions in Maritime Connectivity

Over the last two months, the maritime and offshore satellite connectivity market has been sparked with a bout of merger and acquisition activities.

ViaSat to acquire Rignet

In late December 2020, ViaSat announced an agreement to acquire RigNet, an American energy connectivity provider for approximately $222 million. It is believed RigNet’s customer base in the energy market is of strong interest to ViaSat, with the upcoming launch of ViaSat-3, a new constellation of three satellites.

About RigNet

Founded in 2001, RigNet is a US-based service provider of connectivity services, applications and cybersecurity solutions primarily for the offshore oil, gas and energy market. The company is headquartered in Houston (USA) and also has offices in the UK, Singapore, Brazil and another US office in Louisiana. It employs roughly 650 staff globally. In its latest publicly released financials, Q3 2020, the firm recorded revenues of almost $161 million for the first nine months of 2020, down by $18 million from the same period in 2019. RigNet recorded a net loss of $36.5 million for the same period in 2020, almost double of that in 2019. Not exactly a rosy trajectory over the last two years. The company divides its business into four segments: managed communications services (MCS), applications and IoT, systems integration, and corporate with its biggest segment, MCS, suffering in 2020 compared to 2019. However, not all is doom and gloom when RigNet, in October 2020, announced a multiple-year contract with an undisclosed offshore drilling contractor to provide fully MCS and global satellite access to its entire global drilling fleet. The new contract also includes RigNet's machine learning platform, Intelie, and other supplementary applications, intelligence, and network security solutions. One key challenges the company has faced is the diminishing number of sites that it manages for MCS; a count in Q3 2020 noted 1,190 sites compared to 1,229 in Q2 2020. In Q3 2019, the firm held 1,386 sites.

Valour’s Take

In Valour’s opinion, the justifications for ViaSat intent to purchase RigNet is not some paradigm leap in market growth or unseen grab of untapped assets. The move is relatively simple one. RigNet provides a relatively steady business in an uncertain business environment, the energy sector, at the moment. It allows ViaSat to slowly grow its nascent maritime connectivity proposition and meld it with RigNet’s well-known managed communications services business. This business has a reasonable array of customers, 500 companies, which encompasses 369 offshore production sites, 173 maritime vessels and a number of other sites. Finally, one of the main quotes of the great Warren Buffet, always try and buy under-priced assets. At the moment, most energy related companies are relatively lowly priced.

Marlink proposed acquisition of ITC Global

Marlink Group, owned by Apax Partners (France), has signed an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of ITC Global, a maritime and energy service provide owned by Panasonic. The value of the deal as yet to be disclosed, if it ever will. My question is what value ITC Global brings to Marlink Group, the leading retail maritime service provider?

ITC Global

ITC Global is an American satellite-based communications provider which primarily serves the energy, mining, maritime, and NGO markets. The company was originally set up in 2001 and has its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Interestingly, the firm was acquired by Panasonic in 2015 and now operates as a subsidiary of the Japanese company. In January 2020, ITC Global partnered with Inmarsat to expand its service to providing Ka-band coverage to energy, maritime and yachting customers. The five-year strategic partnership means ITC Global will act as a reseller for FX. ITC Global’s parent company, Panasonic Avionics, signed a similar agreement with Inmarsat in 2018 to provide inflight connectivity.

Valour’s Take

Marlink Group’s potential acquisition of ITC Global is an interesting move within the maritime connectivity sphere. Not to second guess Marlink’s case, the firm’s maritime satellite connectivity solution, SeaLink, has made remarkable progress in recent years. Over 2020, the firm increased its SeaLink vessel count by 1,000 from 2019. That said, Marlink Group, in the past, has not been shy to purchase some key players; OmniAccess, Telemar Group, Radio Holland’s VSAT distribution business over 2016 and 2017. Nonetheless, Marlink has strategised a strong surge of organic growth since. The proposed purchase of ITC highlights two things. Firstly, this period of organic growth has possibly to come to an end. In the Sigmoid Curve, there are critical phases. Development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. To arrest the decline, it is vital to catch the next opportunity on the rise, before the current one fells. I believe we are in a spell of acquisitions and mergers within the industry with companies scoping out potential suitors and targets. Marlink Group is very well known for its presence in the maritime connectivity commercial merchant market, and high-end leisure. As such, ITC Global’s strong maritime offshore energy, passenger and enterprise customer base provides Marlink group with a new market segment to master. Looking at this from other side of the fence, in my opinion, Panasonic Group has conducted a thorough review of its business operations over the last twelve months. This will indubitably entailed picking which businesses and operations will see the group through, in the long term. Unfortunately, it would seem, Panasonic doesn’t see ITC Global as a long term fit for its business portfolio. Finally, with the downturn of the energy sector, and speculating that Panasonic were looking for an exit plan in maritime, Marlink Group will likely achieve a very good deal price for ITC Global.

What’s next

It is predicted we will see three more notable mergers and acquisitions over the course of 2021. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Can VSAT, Smart Shipping Demand Revive the Hard-Hit Maritime Connectivity Market?

This article was first published in Via Satellite.

The past year will be known as a year of strife and great difficulty for the maritime satellite communication market, as a number of key applications have been greatly affected by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In Valour Consultancy’s H1 2020 Maritime Connectivity report, we highlighted how the trade sanctions between the United States and the Republic of China badly affected world trade. The current and prolonged effects of COVID-19 have, and will continue to be much worse. However, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for technologies that will provide the “green shoots” of recovery in the digitalization and communications realm of commercial maritime.

Reflections on 2020

The L-band market is believed to have been quite resilient to the troubles of 2020, with estimated global revenues in 2020 assumed to have declined by $25 million from 2019, and the number of vessels using L-band technology decreasing by 2,680 in the same period. Inmarsat, the biggest maritime L-band provider, no longer discloses its financial figures since it was purchased. However, it’s FleetBroadband business is expected to have only slightly reduced from 2019.

Iridium, like many companies, has only released its Third Quarter (Q3) 2020 financial results at this point. But Iridium’s commercial voice and data service (maritime forms part of this segmentation) revenues were down by $3 million for the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, the majority of this drop is attributed to the aviation rather maritime operations, as stated in the financial report. Its broadband revenues were actually up $4 million, and Internet of Things (IoT) data revenues flat for the same first nine months of 2020 versus 2019.

Delving into the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) market, Valour Consultancy estimates the retail market, the total value of airtime sold directly to the end user, dropped to $1 billion in 2020, a decline from $1.15 billion in 2019.

The passenger market, in particular sea cruises, has come to a complete standstill. The number of active VSAT connected passenger vessels have fallen from nearly 4,100 in 2019, to less than 700 in 2020. Although this is a dramatic market fall, the key question is what portion of service fees for satellite connectivity will redundant vessels have to pay — full, partial, or none?

The answer is yes and no.

From a wholesale perspective, large batches of capacity and bandwidth are agreed and contractual obligations for payment are scheduled years in advance. As such, even though demand for connectivity has reduced due to vessels being docked, service providers will nonetheless still need to pay for these services. The key questions are whether the end users will pay the service providers, or deferred? One could see how working in Inmarsat or Marlink’s accounts receivable team could be challenging.

Service providers offering customers flexible payment term contracts would have brought in only a  fraction of their 2019 revenues if customers are not contractually obliged to pay for redundant vessels. As we understand it, most merchant vendors will have to pay 80% of their monthly contracted ARPU if not in use. With passenger cruise vessels, it’s uncertain whether they will pay the full ARPU per vessel in their service level agreements. My guess is yes — but smart connectivity providers may opt to tie their customers down to longer contract terms if customers are unable to pay current bills.

Offshore energy has also been badly hit, and Valour Consultancy anticipates 2,500 vessels/assets were made redundant in 2020. However, companies in this application are much more astute at catering to this in their service level agreements and have clauses for reduced service payments during periods of downtime.

The challenge with articulating how revenues are affected within the industry depends on multiple factors, such as wholesale or retail provider of connectivity services. Our gut feeling is maritime wholesale satellite revenues were flat to slightly up in 2020, compared to 2019; however, service provider retail revenues (to the end user) were possibly down by between 10-15%.

Revenues generated from 2020 VSAT Ku- and C-band equipped vessel market are predicted to decline by 19% and 17% from 2019’s standings, respectively. With the number of active vessels using the Ku- and C-band systems are also anticipated to decline between minus 11% and 5% over the same period.

Interestingly, Inmarsat has reported an increase in its FX fleet and as such, we have noted an increase in Ka-band equipped vessels, standing around an estimated 10,000 ships by the end of 2020. The company no longer reports its financial results; however, Valour Consultancy believes the firm has increased its FX vessel count by 10% and reflected this in the global Ka-band commercial revenues, thought to be around $255 million by the end of 2020.

The Next 12 Months

In the long term, vessel numbers with VSAT connectivity are expected to increase to nearly 66,000 by the end of 2029, and we project to see maritime VSAT revenues return to the same levels as 2019. The take up of VSAT services for broadband connectivity, combined with a decline of L-band connected vessels, will still remain the primary driver of the market going forward. A notable milestone is retail VSAT and Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) maritime services surpassing $2 billion by the end of 2025.

A Bright Spot in Smart Shipping

Despite the downturn of maritime connectivity services in 2020, one technology segment within the market has grown and will continue growing for many years: maritime digital applications and smart shipping technologies.

There is a realization that maritime digital applications and smart shipping technologies have come to the forefront of the industry. With the restricted movement of crew, depressed freight rates due to limited demand, and closed facilities, monitoring and managing assets without human interaction is crucial. The largest penetration of smart shipping technologies is within the passenger and offshore energy markets. However, we actually see the biggest untapped potential within the merchant sector. Container vessels, tankers, and bulk carriers are all prime targets for these solutions. Valour Consultancy estimates smart shipping solutions sold to merchant market amounted to $139 million in 2019 and will almost quadruple by the end of the decade.

Valour Consultancy foresees the current pick up of the merchant market as a positive sign for smart shipping and maritime IoT services. With the operational headaches and inability to perform key functions at sea, shipping companies will likely invest heavily in remote monitoring, optimizations, and control.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5707|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Source-Via-Satellite.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] This article was first published in Via Satellite. The past year will be known as a year of strife and great difficulty for the maritime satellite communication market, as a number of key applications have been greatly affected by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In Valour Consultancy’s H1 2020 Maritime Connectivity report, we highlighted how the trade sanctions between the United States and the Republic of China badly affected world trade. The current and prolonged effects of COVID-19 have, and will continue to be much worse. However, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for technologies that will provide the “green shoots” of recovery in the digitalization and communications realm of commercial maritime.

Reflections on 2020

The L-band market is believed to have been quite resilient to the troubles of 2020, with estimated global revenues in 2020 assumed to have declined by $25 million from 2019, and the number of vessels using L-band technology decreasing by 2,680 in the same period. Inmarsat, the biggest maritime L-band provider, no longer discloses its financial figures since it was purchased. However, it’s FleetBroadband business is expected to have only slightly reduced from 2019. Iridium, like many companies, has only released its Third Quarter (Q3) 2020 financial results at this point. But Iridium’s commercial voice and data service (maritime forms part of this segmentation) revenues were down by $3 million for the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, the majority of this drop is attributed to the aviation rather maritime operations, as stated in the financial report. Its broadband revenues were actually up $4 million, and Internet of Things (IoT) data revenues flat for the same first nine months of 2020 versus 2019. Delving into the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) market, Valour Consultancy estimates the retail market, the total value of airtime sold directly to the end user, dropped to $1 billion in 2020, a decline from $1.15 billion in 2019. The passenger market, in particular sea cruises, has come to a complete standstill. The number of active VSAT connected passenger vessels have fallen from nearly 4,100 in 2019, to less than 700 in 2020. Although this is a dramatic market fall, the key question is what portion of service fees for satellite connectivity will redundant vessels have to pay — full, partial, or none? The answer is yes and no. From a wholesale perspective, large batches of capacity and bandwidth are agreed and contractual obligations for payment are scheduled years in advance. As such, even though demand for connectivity has reduced due to vessels being docked, service providers will nonetheless still need to pay for these services. The key questions are whether the end users will pay the service providers, or deferred? One could see how working in Inmarsat or Marlink’s accounts receivable team could be challenging. Service providers offering customers flexible payment term contracts would have brought in only a  fraction of their 2019 revenues if customers are not contractually obliged to pay for redundant vessels. As we understand it, most merchant vendors will have to pay 80% of their monthly contracted ARPU if not in use. With passenger cruise vessels, it’s uncertain whether they will pay the full ARPU per vessel in their service level agreements. My guess is yes — but smart connectivity providers may opt to tie their customers down to longer contract terms if customers are unable to pay current bills. Offshore energy has also been badly hit, and Valour Consultancy anticipates 2,500 vessels/assets were made redundant in 2020. However, companies in this application are much more astute at catering to this in their service level agreements and have clauses for reduced service payments during periods of downtime. The challenge with articulating how revenues are affected within the industry depends on multiple factors, such as wholesale or retail provider of connectivity services. Our gut feeling is maritime wholesale satellite revenues were flat to slightly up in 2020, compared to 2019; however, service provider retail revenues (to the end user) were possibly down by between 10-15%. Revenues generated from 2020 VSAT Ku- and C-band equipped vessel market are predicted to decline by 19% and 17% from 2019’s standings, respectively. With the number of active vessels using the Ku- and C-band systems are also anticipated to decline between minus 11% and 5% over the same period. Interestingly, Inmarsat has reported an increase in its FX fleet and as such, we have noted an increase in Ka-band equipped vessels, standing around an estimated 10,000 ships by the end of 2020. The company no longer reports its financial results; however, Valour Consultancy believes the firm has increased its FX vessel count by 10% and reflected this in the global Ka-band commercial revenues, thought to be around $255 million by the end of 2020.

The Next 12 Months

In the long term, vessel numbers with VSAT connectivity are expected to increase to nearly 66,000 by the end of 2029, and we project to see maritime VSAT revenues return to the same levels as 2019. The take up of VSAT services for broadband connectivity, combined with a decline of L-band connected vessels, will still remain the primary driver of the market going forward. A notable milestone is retail VSAT and Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) maritime services surpassing $2 billion by the end of 2025.

A Bright Spot in Smart Shipping

Despite the downturn of maritime connectivity services in 2020, one technology segment within the market has grown and will continue growing for many years: maritime digital applications and smart shipping technologies. There is a realization that maritime digital applications and smart shipping technologies have come to the forefront of the industry. With the restricted movement of crew, depressed freight rates due to limited demand, and closed facilities, monitoring and managing assets without human interaction is crucial. The largest penetration of smart shipping technologies is within the passenger and offshore energy markets. However, we actually see the biggest untapped potential within the merchant sector. Container vessels, tankers, and bulk carriers are all prime targets for these solutions. Valour Consultancy estimates smart shipping solutions sold to merchant market amounted to $139 million in 2019 and will almost quadruple by the end of the decade. Valour Consultancy foresees the current pick up of the merchant market as a positive sign for smart shipping and maritime IoT services. With the operational headaches and inability to perform key functions at sea, shipping companies will likely invest heavily in remote monitoring, optimizations, and control. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Holistic Repurposing of Offshore Energy Assets – 2020 – Free Whitepaper

Valour Consultancy is pleased to release its latest whitepaper covering the “Repurposing of Offshore Energy Assets”, primarily focused upon those in the North Sea.

Offshore platforms are traditionally viewed as single-purpose structures supported by a small village of personnel devoted to that purpose. In the same way that many villages renewed themselves after their main industry declined, for example cotton mills, the coal industry and, in some places, the oilfield, platforms need to adopt a portfolio of alternative commercial endeavours to prosper. This paper suggests that instead of expending large sums of money to remove the structures, that money is used to regenerate the platforms providing income and work and benefitting the country and the company accomplishing the refit.

This paper examines the investigation into alternative uses which appear, so far, to address single option use, either wind power or wave power or other alternative, arriving at the unsurprising conclusion that there would be a negative return on investment (ROI). The paper goes on to suggest that a synergistic combination of six or more processes installed on a platform would not only be profitable but also assist the company responsible for the platform and nation in whose territory the platform stands meet its carbon reduction targets.

The paper offers an alternative scenario in which geothermal is used to power the platform, while wind and wave power are exported to shore. It also suggest that the exclusion zone around the platform is used for aquaculture with nutrient poor surface water fortified by seawater drawn from just above the seabed. The seabed can also be used for energy storage. Seaweed grown in this scenario could be used for medicine, food, chemicals or for carbon sequestration or from ethanol production. Further projects to generate revenue suggested are making fresh water for export to drought-stricken Southern European and North African countries and using the platform as a base for tethered dirigibles which would act as low-cost communication hubs for countries bordering the North Sea and as monitoring stations for shipping and fishing vessels.

The existing subsea pipeline network would be ideal for transport of product to shore. Advanced AI and monitored automation means that manning on such facilities would be minimised and may even be discounted altogether.

The whitepaper suggests that it is eminently possible to have all these projects on-going on the same platform at the same time. Indeed, with sufficient process integration, and smart design, these projects can assist each other. Oilfield engineers develop a unique suite of capabilities while designing and building platforms and oil wells and oil distribution pipelines that would allow them to draw on the many disciplines that would be needed for such a diverse project.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5666|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/offshore-oil-platform-002.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] Valour Consultancy is pleased to release its latest whitepaper covering the "Repurposing of Offshore Energy Assets", primarily focused upon those in the North Sea. Offshore platforms are traditionally viewed as single-purpose structures supported by a small village of personnel devoted to that purpose. In the same way that many villages renewed themselves after their main industry declined, for example cotton mills, the coal industry and, in some places, the oilfield, platforms need to adopt a portfolio of alternative commercial endeavours to prosper. This paper suggests that instead of expending large sums of money to remove the structures, that money is used to regenerate the platforms providing income and work and benefitting the country and the company accomplishing the refit. This paper examines the investigation into alternative uses which appear, so far, to address single option use, either wind power or wave power or other alternative, arriving at the unsurprising conclusion that there would be a negative return on investment (ROI). The paper goes on to suggest that a synergistic combination of six or more processes installed on a platform would not only be profitable but also assist the company responsible for the platform and nation in whose territory the platform stands meet its carbon reduction targets. The paper offers an alternative scenario in which geothermal is used to power the platform, while wind and wave power are exported to shore. It also suggest that the exclusion zone around the platform is used for aquaculture with nutrient poor surface water fortified by seawater drawn from just above the seabed. The seabed can also be used for energy storage. Seaweed grown in this scenario could be used for medicine, food, chemicals or for carbon sequestration or from ethanol production. Further projects to generate revenue suggested are making fresh water for export to drought-stricken Southern European and North African countries and using the platform as a base for tethered dirigibles which would act as low-cost communication hubs for countries bordering the North Sea and as monitoring stations for shipping and fishing vessels. The existing subsea pipeline network would be ideal for transport of product to shore. Advanced AI and monitored automation means that manning on such facilities would be minimised and may even be discounted altogether. The whitepaper suggests that it is eminently possible to have all these projects on-going on the same platform at the same time. Indeed, with sufficient process integration, and smart design, these projects can assist each other. Oilfield engineers develop a unique suite of capabilities while designing and building platforms and oil wells and oil distribution pipelines that would allow them to draw on the many disciplines that would be needed for such a diverse project. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Marlink Remains Largest Retail VSAT Service Provider in 2019

In Valour Consultancy’s latest maritime connectivity report, The Future of Maritime Connectivity – 2020 edition, Marlink Group remained the largest retail service provider for VSAT communication services in 2019. The global service provider increased its revenue market share from 23.1 per cent in 2018, to 23.9 per cent in 2019. 

Marlink has proactive approach to customer service ensuring all its clients and their vessels are functioning at an optimal performance. This has been a particularly poignant matter during the COVID-19 pandemic with large numbers of merchant seafarers stranded at sea away from their friends and families. In addition, the company’s history in the maritime market and strength across all the applications at the firm has also aided its mission of staying at the top of the VSAT retail market. Valour Consultancy estimates that Marlink had more than seven thousand vessels subscribed to its SeaLink VSAT service today. 

Valour Consultancy ranked Speedcast second in the retail VSAT market in 2019. Like Marlink, the company also increased its market share from 2018 primarily due to its acquisition of Globecomm. However, the firm has gone through some financial turmoil recently, filing for Chapter 11 in April 2020 and it will be interesting to see how it will perform in the next 12 months. 

Inmarsat continues to play a strong dual role in the market, providing wholesale MSS and VSAT satellite capacity to its value added resellers (service providers) and also serving some key customers directly. The firm, purchased by a private equity consortium in 2019, has done a good job of switching its large existing MSS customer base to its FX VSAT offerings whilst also getting its VARS to commit to fulfilling a number of vessels on its FX services. An example of this is demonstrated by Inmarsat’s strong relationship with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), one of Japan’s largest shipping companies, who announced they plan to continue the roll out of FX across the remainder of all its owned and managed vessels  

Another notable maritime connectivity player has been KVH Industries. The firm has performed exceedingly well with its Agile Plans VSAT leasing service and reported shipping more than 10,000 VSAT antennas cumulatively earlier this year. Note this is across all mobility and land verticals. Nevertheless, its strength does reside within maritime and the firm has recently introduced its successful leasing plan to leisure market customers, opening up a significant number of vessels for new business. 

Unfortunately, Global Eagle has suffered somewhat over recent years and its market share dropped from 10 per cent in 2018 to less than 8 per cent in 2019. This is as a result of having lost a number of key passenger and offshore energy clients to other service providers in recent years. 

Valour Consultancy’s take on the retail VSAT maritime connectivity standings in 2019: 

Looking Forward 

According to the IMF in its June 2020 outlook update  – “Global growth is projected to decline by  –4.9 per cent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast. In 2021 global growth is projected at 5.4 per cent. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6.5 percentage points lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s 

Valour Consultancy anticipates glass half full perspective. Yes, passenger and offshore energy markets have been decimated by the fear of the pandemic, travel restrictions and the unknown of what is nextNonetheless, other markets have remained less affected, if not up from 2019. The effect of having so many seafarers in the merchant market stranded at sea has been to increase crew welfare video, messaging and telephone communication usage over the last six months. Some of the super wealthy have also seconded themselves on their private superyachts for the period. In addition, the demand for overall food produce such as seafood has remained stable and the market is likely to remain steady over the year. There are many notable pain points in maritime satellite connectivity right now but also a few good ones. Our maritime connectivity report will be providing an October update on 2020 and new projections for 2021 onwards. For more information please click here 

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5634|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/v240mt_sixten-lundgren_for-web_w1860px-e1605709183233.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] In Valour Consultancy’s latest maritime connectivity report, The Future of Maritime Connectivity – 2020 edition, Marlink Group remained the largest retail service provider for VSAT communication services in 2019. The global service provider increased its revenue market share from 23.1 per cent in 2018, to 23.9 per cent in 2019.  Marlink has proactive approach to customer service ensuring all its clients and their vessels are functioning at an optimal performance. This has been a particularly poignant matter during the COVID-19 pandemic with large numbers of merchant seafarers stranded at sea away from their friends and families. In addition, the company’s history in the maritime market and strength across all the applications at the firm has also aided its mission of staying at the top of the VSAT retail market. Valour Consultancy estimates that Marlink had more than seven thousand vessels subscribed to its SeaLink VSAT service today.  Valour Consultancy ranked Speedcast second in the retail VSAT market in 2019. Like Marlink, the company also increased its market share from 2018 primarily due to its acquisition of Globecomm. However, the firm has gone through some financial turmoil recently, filing for Chapter 11 in April 2020 and it will be interesting to see how it will perform in the next 12 months.  Inmarsat continues to play a strong dual role in the market, providing wholesale MSS and VSAT satellite capacity to its value added resellers (service providers) and also serving some key customers directly. The firm, purchased by a private equity consortium in 2019, has done a good job of switching its large existing MSS customer base to its FX VSAT offerings whilst also getting its VARS to commit to fulfilling a number of vessels on its FX services. An example of this is demonstrated by Inmarsat’s strong relationship with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), one of Japan’s largest shipping companies, who announced they plan to continue the roll out of FX across the remainder of all its owned and managed vessels   Another notable maritime connectivity player has been KVH Industries. The firm has performed exceedingly well with its Agile Plans VSAT leasing service and reported shipping more than 10,000 VSAT antennas cumulatively earlier this year. Note this is across all mobility and land verticals. Nevertheless, its strength does reside within maritime and the firm has recently introduced its successful leasing plan to leisure market customers, opening up a significant number of vessels for new business.  Unfortunately, Global Eagle has suffered somewhat over recent years and its market share dropped from 10 per cent in 2018 to less than 8 per cent in 2019. This is as a result of having lost a number of key passenger and offshore energy clients to other service providers in recent years.  Valour Consultancy’s take on the retail VSAT maritime connectivity standings in 2019:  Looking Forward  According to the IMF in its June 2020 outlook update  - “Global growth is projected to decline by  –4.9 per cent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast. In 2021 global growth is projected at 5.4 per cent. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6.5 percentage points lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s  Valour Consultancy anticipates glass half full perspective. Yes, passenger and offshore energy markets have been decimated by the fear of the pandemic, travel restrictions and the unknown of what is nextNonetheless, other markets have remained less affected, if not up from 2019. The effect of having so many seafarers in the merchant market stranded at sea has been to increase crew welfare video, messaging and telephone communication usage over the last six months. Some of the super wealthy have also seconded themselves on their private superyachts for the period. In addition, the demand for overall food produce such as seafood has remained stable and the market is likely to remain steady over the year. There are many notable pain points in maritime satellite connectivity right now but also a few good ones. Our maritime connectivity report will be providing an October update on 2020 and new projections for 2021 onwards. For more information please click here  [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Loose Specs Sink Shipmanagers

When writing commercial articles about the maritime market, I found analogies for players in the ecosystem most useful. After undertaking a recent new research findings on satellite operators, service providers, shipping companies, ship owners (most of the time the former, however, not in some cases), ship managers and seafarers. I thought a simplification of their roles would be beneficial.

There are ship owners, ship managers and seafarers who go (down) to the sea in ships. A shipping company’s customer likes to buy a product from A where it is cheap and move it to B where it can be sold to make a profit. To do this require shipping companies and owners to commission shipyards to build metal boxes to carry the product. Sometimes this box is made of steel and floats on the ocean. Sailors live on the ship-box, look after it and care about it. They talk of being married to the ocean and treat the ship as if it is their wife (or husband).

Ship managers are relationship experts who try to maintain these many relationships and keep all in good health.

Commercially this makes good sense for smaller ship/fleet owners as the overhead and cash flow required for maintaining a crew and vessel management department within the owner’s organisation is onerous. Because management contracts are negotiated mainly on price, margins for ship management companies are squeezed and hiccups in cash-flow, for example an international pandemic which keeps ships from docking and crews from changing, can mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy. Even for larger fleet operators, there is some logic in relieving the parent company of the responsibility and risk inherent in hiring permanent staff for crewing and administration, but cost comparisons must be harder to justify outsourcing. The low freight rates ($1,576 per 40ft container according to Drewry’s World Index) and the pandemic have all taken their toll on the industry and there will likely be cohort of mergers, bankruptcies and acquisitions.

Whether a ship owner gives the ship management tasks to a separate division within the company, or outsources the job to a third-party ship manager, the services provided will cover the same operational needs. Third party ship management companies play an important role in the shipping industry.

Remit of ship management firms:

Ship management usually covers crew management – selection, training, competence, medical fitness for duty, payroll and tax, pension, repatriation, insurance, even union negotiations.

Operationally, it might include – supply of necessary victualling, stores, spares, and lubricating oil and services for the ship, repair and maintenance, arranging dry dockings, modification and upgrades, audit planning, monitoring of flag state compliance, classification society compliance, safety and health management and compliance with port and docks security codes.

Commercially, services offered include: financial accounting including voyage estimates and issuing voyage instructions, ship financing, newbuilding contracting and supervision, chartering including demurrage, insurance, claims handling, appointing agents, appointing stevedores and arranging surveys associated with commercial operation.

In at least the last 20 years, the ownership of the world’s merchant fleet has become more varied. Aside from independent ship owners who have their own ship operating ability, investors, banks and hire companies have bought, or ended up owning by default, ships but do not have the necessary expert knowledge to operate them. However, the relationship between the ship manager and the ship owner is not always ideal. Disputes between them may arise, regarding claims from third parties, standards and the quality of service or of returning asset after the contract terminates. Around 25% of the world’s international trading fleet of ships is reliant on services provided by third party managers in whole or part.

How does this situation influence the adoption of smart-ship technology?

A little description of the main players follows with their origin, base of operations and some discussion of their approach to smart-ship technology, always remembering that, unless a vessel is built with the necessary sensors and communication capacity, the retrofitting smart-ship technology is an expensive and time consuming business that ship owners rarely want to fund unless promised a clear-cut increase in return for the effort.

Anglo Eastern-Univan Group (Hong Kong) started out in 1974 as Anglo-Eastern, a chartering and ship owning company with Anglo-Eastern Management Services being the in-house manager for the ships. This in-house department was the start of the present Anglo-Eastern Group. There was a management buyout in 1998 and a subsequent merger with Scottish ship manager, Denholm Ship Management three years later. Anglo Eastern merged with Univan Group in 2015. It now has roughly 1,700 shore staff and over 27,000 sea crew and combined third party management of nearly 900 ships. A majority of its ships’ crews come from India, Philippines, Ukraine and China.

In March 2020, the group announced that it is adopting the Wärtsilä Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) by Transas, in order to optimise the planning, weather routing, fuel consumption, and speed of a vessel. It also facilitates ship to-shore reporting and fleet performance management to reduce fuel consumption taking into consideration charter party compliance, speed management, as well as hull, propeller and engine condition. Key benefits of deploying the Wärtsilä FOS include a unique platform that integrates with a ship’s planning station and electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), immense cloud computing power, machine learning, data analytics, and onboard/onshore mobile applications.

V.Group (London) has been in operation since 1984. It’s core operations are ship operation management; V.Ships leisure; and crew management. Other divisions include the ship supply chain division, marine services division and offshore division. It is 51 per cent owned by a private investment company Advent International. The company website states that it manages 2,200 vessels with a sea crew of 44,000 (half of whom will be at sea and half on liberty) and a shore staff of 3,000 spread over 60 offices. The company employs an in-house integrated management software system called Shipsure 2.0 which can be installed in modules.

Fleet (a rebranding from Fleet Management) (Hong Kong) was established in 1994. It provides technical management, ship building, marine insurance, maritime training and crew management to ship owners worldwide. The company manages around 550 cargo vessels, multipurpose vessels, container vessels, bulk carriers, reefer vessels, chemical tankers, gas carriers, product tankers, crude oil, roll-on/roll-off vessels, and pure car carriers. Its crew roster numbers 20,000 and it has 25 offices in 12 countries with a shore staff of 800. The software monitoring system they use is called PARIS (Planning and Reporting Infrastructure for Ship) which is now a cloud-based reporting dashboard for every aspect of a vessel’s performance, condition, operating cost, and crew details.

Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSM) (Singapore) has more than 135 years in the shipping industry. Originally founded in 1883 as a ship-owner for the timber trade in the Baltic Sea, the family-owned business developed until now, the parent company, Schulte Group, manages a fleet of around 600 vessels, 18,000 seafarers and 2,000 shore based employees through a network of 11 ship management offices, 24 crew service offices and four wholly-owned maritime training centres. The company uses an in-house developed PAL software system, an integrated ship management software suite, on all BSM-managed ships. It is a calendar maintenance schedule with respect to machinery running hours and condition-based maintenance, an enhanced system we use with electronic engine indicators. PAL voyage module is used to monitor ship performance with the data compared to past voyages providing accurate information on the right timing for propeller and hull cleaning.

Columbia Shipmanagement (Cyprus) as established in Limassol, in 1978. With more than 380 vessels under full and crew management, 280 new build vessels under supervision, 8 management offices, 14 crewing agencies, more than 15,000 employees. CSM is at the forefront of shipping digitalisation and is a key contributor to the technological revolution in the maritime industry. CSM has a software suite called Performance Optimisation Control Room (POCR) which provides 24/7 expert monitoring of its fleet. The POCR optimises operations in all areas of vessel safety, crew rotation and training, maintenance and fuel efficiency.

Synergy Group (Singapore) was founded in 2006. They provide technical management, commercial management, crew management, new ship building, maritime training, pre-purchase inspection, port agency and marine travels. They have more than 300 vessels under management with over 12,000 crew members out of 13 offices in six maritime centres Synergy supervises a diverse fleet which includes LPG tankers, chemical tankers, oil tankers (VLCC, Suezmax, Aframax, LR2, LR1 and MR), container vessels in the 1,800 TEU to >20,000 TEU capacity and every size of bulk carrier. Its in-house software, known as ‘ShipPalm’, runs their ship management software that is regulatory compliant. It provides an integrated business solution to Synergy’s Ship Management division. It is modular in concept and can monitor voyage performance, keeps track of certificates, has a documents management module, a defect reports module, crewing module, purchase module. It includes a planned maintenance system and can produce business intelligence reports. Furthermore, the company has introduced the SmartShip Technology into one of its group vessels, Trammo Dietlin which is the first vessel to receive the Certificate of Class, ‘AL-SAFE’ notation from Lloyd’s Register. This is the first example of a ship certified to stream data into a big data platform. Elements of the navigation, cargo and machinery systems have been certified AL2, which means ‘systems provide on and off-ship decision support for operators’. This provides operators and shore-based support staff with instant access to operating data from these systems for monitoring and diagnostics through the cloud, with which they can make more informed decisions and respond to issues faster and more efficiently. The Air Handling Unit has been certified AL3 which means ‘systems that operate autonomously, but with an active human ‘in-the-loop’’.

Wallem Group (Hong Kong) was established in 1903 by Haakon Wallem in Shanghai. Now it manages more than 350 ships with 7,000 qualified seafarers and 1,000 shore-based staff in 17 countries with 8 training centres. The software suite it employs is BASSnet currently trialled on three vessels using Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress – a crude/oil products tanker and two vehicle transporters. After setting up the planned maintenance databases for the three pilot vessels. and revamped the chart of accounts with the aim of making it more granular, enabling more detailed comparisons and analysis of actual and budgeted costs, and allow greater transparency in reporting to vessel owners. Wallem is also linking BASSnet up with the company’s other software with a view to harnessing ‘Big Data’ across Wallem’s business process and reducing administrative burden. Initially this will see automation of the invoices register and procurement management process and integration with COMPAS – the crew management software used by Wallem seafarers. BASSnet is also an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform.

Thome Ship Management (Singapore) was, set up in 1963 and undertook agency work mainly for Scandinavian owners, in addition to his chartering and shipbroking activities. In 2013, the company had more than 400 vessels under full technical management serviced by 750 shore staff and 12,000 crew members in 11 locations. It is not clear if there is a company-wide monitoring and management suite of software.

Wilhelmsen Ship Management (Lysaker, Norway) Founded in 1861, the parent company Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA is a global maritime industry group employing more than 21,000 people. They deliver products and services to more than half of the world’s merchant fleet, along with crew and technical management to the biggest vessels at sea. Its ship management division is a 45 year old stand-alone entity fully owned by the parent company. It manages 396 ships, employs 4,500 marine professionals (shared with other group companies) servicing 2,200 ports in 125 countries and has 9,200 active seafarers. WSM uses a range of software suites to address different aspects of voyage, engine and fuel efficiency, client and supplier information including FRED (Framework for Enterprise Data) a customer portal for securely accessing their transaction information, including invoices, delivery notes, order history and current delivery status of orders. It also allows customers to retrieve certificates for products such as ropes, along with providing an instant overview of which cylinders they have on board, and where. For engine rooms, they have trialled the ER-EMT solution (engine room – energy management technology) “True Demand”. This automation technology responds to the varying conditions of the engine room. It delivers direct energy savings, and also allows the crew to constantly monitor and verify the status of each controlled unit and ensure that the savings are sustainable and extending the scope for benchmarking and energy optimisation. It is thought that WSM also use Kongsberg and Honeywell integrated automation systems. Wilhelmsen Ship Management has entered into strategic partnerships with DNV GL, Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) and University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) for the development of autonomous shipping operations.

OSM Maritime (Kristiansand, Limassol, Singapore) Founded in 1989, OSM is now a leading provider of full-service solutions to the Offshore and Maritime Industry with more than 12,000 employees, 30 office locations, 500 vessels under management. OSM recently announced that it has extended its partnership with Tero Marine, and will install its TM Master suite on the remaining OSM fleet globally. The frame agreement with Tero Marine means that all vessels with various planned maintenance systems across the OSM fleet would be standardised on TM Master. At the core of this digitalisation is the visualisation of quality data which are used to monitor the fleet and provide real-time support to the crew, around-the-clock, performance management and fast response capabilities if the need arises. Combined with an analytics platform that helps them capture and act on detailed insights from the data, the company has tested artificial intelligence capabilities that enable the platform to identify advanced correlations that humans would normally not be able to catch on first sight. TM Master as the preferred maintenance and purchasing system will fit into this digital strategy. TM Master has been designed to enable you to take care of your assets; vessels, crew and cargo. The fleet management system consists of the following modules: maintenance, procurement, human resources and quality & environment. TM Master is designed to work with future operating systems and is also ideally suited for integration with third party software such as ERP software.

Conclusion

Ship management companies seem to be divided into two types; those that developed from departments of ship owners and charterers such as Anglo-Eastern, BSM, Wallem and Wilhelmsen. The other is those that have been more recently set up specifically to cater to the ship management industry. This reflects in their approach to automation and AI. It makes little financial sense to promote technology that reduces or diminishes reliance on technically and legally qualified crew if one of your main streams of income is manning and associated costs.

Dr Malcolm Willingale of Henley Business School and author, with others, of “Ship Management” has suggested that the level of the management fees might be around $75,000 – 100,000 per annum for a bulk carrier, $90,000 – 150,000 per annum for a tanker and approximately $400,000 per annum for a cruise vessel. The difference is largely driven by crew, provisions and insurance costs

Even though the expenses for the SMCs have increased around 10% the last years, due to the demand for investment in IT systems and safety and quality management, the weakening of the dollar and the rising service delivery costs, the management fees have stayed at the same levels as in the past or even declined.

On the other hand, those ship management companies, whose parent companies have their own ships, know that there is more profit to be had from more automation. True AI and unmanned or deeply automated shipping is still some years away, although the current pandemic may have hastened its adoption somewhat.

The companies that adopt it are almost assuredly going to be owner-operated such as Maersk, COSCO and such. For more information about Valour Consultancy’s maritime research, please click here.

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When writing commercial articles about the maritime market, I found analogies for players in the ecosystem most useful. After undertaking a recent new research findings on satellite operators, service providers, shipping companies, ship owners (most of the time the former, however, not in some cases), ship managers and seafarers. I thought a simplification of their roles would be beneficial. There are ship owners, ship managers and seafarers who go (down) to the sea in ships. A shipping company’s customer likes to buy a product from A where it is cheap and move it to B where it can be sold to make a profit. To do this require shipping companies and owners to commission shipyards to build metal boxes to carry the product. Sometimes this box is made of steel and floats on the ocean. Sailors live on the ship-box, look after it and care about it. They talk of being married to the ocean and treat the ship as if it is their wife (or husband). Ship managers are relationship experts who try to maintain these many relationships and keep all in good health. Commercially this makes good sense for smaller ship/fleet owners as the overhead and cash flow required for maintaining a crew and vessel management department within the owner’s organisation is onerous. Because management contracts are negotiated mainly on price, margins for ship management companies are squeezed and hiccups in cash-flow, for example an international pandemic which keeps ships from docking and crews from changing, can mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy. Even for larger fleet operators, there is some logic in relieving the parent company of the responsibility and risk inherent in hiring permanent staff for crewing and administration, but cost comparisons must be harder to justify outsourcing. The low freight rates ($1,576 per 40ft container according to Drewry’s World Index) and the pandemic have all taken their toll on the industry and there will likely be cohort of mergers, bankruptcies and acquisitions. Whether a ship owner gives the ship management tasks to a separate division within the company, or outsources the job to a third-party ship manager, the services provided will cover the same operational needs. Third party ship management companies play an important role in the shipping industry. Remit of ship management firms: Ship management usually covers crew management - selection, training, competence, medical fitness for duty, payroll and tax, pension, repatriation, insurance, even union negotiations. Operationally, it might include - supply of necessary victualling, stores, spares, and lubricating oil and services for the ship, repair and maintenance, arranging dry dockings, modification and upgrades, audit planning, monitoring of flag state compliance, classification society compliance, safety and health management and compliance with port and docks security codes. Commercially, services offered include: financial accounting including voyage estimates and issuing voyage instructions, ship financing, newbuilding contracting and supervision, chartering including demurrage, insurance, claims handling, appointing agents, appointing stevedores and arranging surveys associated with commercial operation. In at least the last 20 years, the ownership of the world’s merchant fleet has become more varied. Aside from independent ship owners who have their own ship operating ability, investors, banks and hire companies have bought, or ended up owning by default, ships but do not have the necessary expert knowledge to operate them. However, the relationship between the ship manager and the ship owner is not always ideal. Disputes between them may arise, regarding claims from third parties, standards and the quality of service or of returning asset after the contract terminates. Around 25% of the world’s international trading fleet of ships is reliant on services provided by third party managers in whole or part. How does this situation influence the adoption of smart-ship technology? A little description of the main players follows with their origin, base of operations and some discussion of their approach to smart-ship technology, always remembering that, unless a vessel is built with the necessary sensors and communication capacity, the retrofitting smart-ship technology is an expensive and time consuming business that ship owners rarely want to fund unless promised a clear-cut increase in return for the effort. Anglo Eastern-Univan Group (Hong Kong) started out in 1974 as Anglo-Eastern, a chartering and ship owning company with Anglo-Eastern Management Services being the in-house manager for the ships. This in-house department was the start of the present Anglo-Eastern Group. There was a management buyout in 1998 and a subsequent merger with Scottish ship manager, Denholm Ship Management three years later. Anglo Eastern merged with Univan Group in 2015. It now has roughly 1,700 shore staff and over 27,000 sea crew and combined third party management of nearly 900 ships. A majority of its ships’ crews come from India, Philippines, Ukraine and China. In March 2020, the group announced that it is adopting the Wärtsilä Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) by Transas, in order to optimise the planning, weather routing, fuel consumption, and speed of a vessel. It also facilitates ship to-shore reporting and fleet performance management to reduce fuel consumption taking into consideration charter party compliance, speed management, as well as hull, propeller and engine condition. Key benefits of deploying the Wärtsilä FOS include a unique platform that integrates with a ship’s planning station and electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), immense cloud computing power, machine learning, data analytics, and onboard/onshore mobile applications. V.Group (London) has been in operation since 1984. It’s core operations are ship operation management; V.Ships leisure; and crew management. Other divisions include the ship supply chain division, marine services division and offshore division. It is 51 per cent owned by a private investment company Advent International. The company website states that it manages 2,200 vessels with a sea crew of 44,000 (half of whom will be at sea and half on liberty) and a shore staff of 3,000 spread over 60 offices. The company employs an in-house integrated management software system called Shipsure 2.0 which can be installed in modules. Fleet (a rebranding from Fleet Management) (Hong Kong) was established in 1994. It provides technical management, ship building, marine insurance, maritime training and crew management to ship owners worldwide. The company manages around 550 cargo vessels, multipurpose vessels, container vessels, bulk carriers, reefer vessels, chemical tankers, gas carriers, product tankers, crude oil, roll-on/roll-off vessels, and pure car carriers. Its crew roster numbers 20,000 and it has 25 offices in 12 countries with a shore staff of 800. The software monitoring system they use is called PARIS (Planning and Reporting Infrastructure for Ship) which is now a cloud-based reporting dashboard for every aspect of a vessel’s performance, condition, operating cost, and crew details. Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSM) (Singapore) has more than 135 years in the shipping industry. Originally founded in 1883 as a ship-owner for the timber trade in the Baltic Sea, the family-owned business developed until now, the parent company, Schulte Group, manages a fleet of around 600 vessels, 18,000 seafarers and 2,000 shore based employees through a network of 11 ship management offices, 24 crew service offices and four wholly-owned maritime training centres. The company uses an in-house developed PAL software system, an integrated ship management software suite, on all BSM-managed ships. It is a calendar maintenance schedule with respect to machinery running hours and condition-based maintenance, an enhanced system we use with electronic engine indicators. PAL voyage module is used to monitor ship performance with the data compared to past voyages providing accurate information on the right timing for propeller and hull cleaning. Columbia Shipmanagement (Cyprus) as established in Limassol, in 1978. With more than 380 vessels under full and crew management, 280 new build vessels under supervision, 8 management offices, 14 crewing agencies, more than 15,000 employees. CSM is at the forefront of shipping digitalisation and is a key contributor to the technological revolution in the maritime industry. CSM has a software suite called Performance Optimisation Control Room (POCR) which provides 24/7 expert monitoring of its fleet. The POCR optimises operations in all areas of vessel safety, crew rotation and training, maintenance and fuel efficiency. Synergy Group (Singapore) was founded in 2006. They provide technical management, commercial management, crew management, new ship building, maritime training, pre-purchase inspection, port agency and marine travels. They have more than 300 vessels under management with over 12,000 crew members out of 13 offices in six maritime centres Synergy supervises a diverse fleet which includes LPG tankers, chemical tankers, oil tankers (VLCC, Suezmax, Aframax, LR2, LR1 and MR), container vessels in the 1,800 TEU to >20,000 TEU capacity and every size of bulk carrier. Its in-house software, known as ‘ShipPalm’, runs their ship management software that is regulatory compliant. It provides an integrated business solution to Synergy’s Ship Management division. It is modular in concept and can monitor voyage performance, keeps track of certificates, has a documents management module, a defect reports module, crewing module, purchase module. It includes a planned maintenance system and can produce business intelligence reports. Furthermore, the company has introduced the SmartShip Technology into one of its group vessels, Trammo Dietlin which is the first vessel to receive the Certificate of Class, ‘AL-SAFE’ notation from Lloyd’s Register. This is the first example of a ship certified to stream data into a big data platform. Elements of the navigation, cargo and machinery systems have been certified AL2, which means ‘systems provide on and off-ship decision support for operators’. This provides operators and shore-based support staff with instant access to operating data from these systems for monitoring and diagnostics through the cloud, with which they can make more informed decisions and respond to issues faster and more efficiently. The Air Handling Unit has been certified AL3 which means ‘systems that operate autonomously, but with an active human ‘in-the-loop’’. Wallem Group (Hong Kong) was established in 1903 by Haakon Wallem in Shanghai. Now it manages more than 350 ships with 7,000 qualified seafarers and 1,000 shore-based staff in 17 countries with 8 training centres. The software suite it employs is BASSnet currently trialled on three vessels using Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress – a crude/oil products tanker and two vehicle transporters. After setting up the planned maintenance databases for the three pilot vessels. and revamped the chart of accounts with the aim of making it more granular, enabling more detailed comparisons and analysis of actual and budgeted costs, and allow greater transparency in reporting to vessel owners. Wallem is also linking BASSnet up with the company’s other software with a view to harnessing ‘Big Data’ across Wallem’s business process and reducing administrative burden. Initially this will see automation of the invoices register and procurement management process and integration with COMPAS – the crew management software used by Wallem seafarers. BASSnet is also an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. Thome Ship Management (Singapore) was, set up in 1963 and undertook agency work mainly for Scandinavian owners, in addition to his chartering and shipbroking activities. In 2013, the company had more than 400 vessels under full technical management serviced by 750 shore staff and 12,000 crew members in 11 locations. It is not clear if there is a company-wide monitoring and management suite of software. Wilhelmsen Ship Management (Lysaker, Norway) Founded in 1861, the parent company Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA is a global maritime industry group employing more than 21,000 people. They deliver products and services to more than half of the world's merchant fleet, along with crew and technical management to the biggest vessels at sea. Its ship management division is a 45 year old stand-alone entity fully owned by the parent company. It manages 396 ships, employs 4,500 marine professionals (shared with other group companies) servicing 2,200 ports in 125 countries and has 9,200 active seafarers. WSM uses a range of software suites to address different aspects of voyage, engine and fuel efficiency, client and supplier information including FRED (Framework for Enterprise Data) a customer portal for securely accessing their transaction information, including invoices, delivery notes, order history and current delivery status of orders. It also allows customers to retrieve certificates for products such as ropes, along with providing an instant overview of which cylinders they have on board, and where. For engine rooms, they have trialled the ER-EMT solution (engine room - energy management technology) “True Demand”. This automation technology responds to the varying conditions of the engine room. It delivers direct energy savings, and also allows the crew to constantly monitor and verify the status of each controlled unit and ensure that the savings are sustainable and extending the scope for benchmarking and energy optimisation. It is thought that WSM also use Kongsberg and Honeywell integrated automation systems. Wilhelmsen Ship Management has entered into strategic partnerships with DNV GL, Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) and University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) for the development of autonomous shipping operations. OSM Maritime (Kristiansand, Limassol, Singapore) Founded in 1989, OSM is now a leading provider of full-service solutions to the Offshore and Maritime Industry with more than 12,000 employees, 30 office locations, 500 vessels under management. OSM recently announced that it has extended its partnership with Tero Marine, and will install its TM Master suite on the remaining OSM fleet globally. The frame agreement with Tero Marine means that all vessels with various planned maintenance systems across the OSM fleet would be standardised on TM Master. At the core of this digitalisation is the visualisation of quality data which are used to monitor the fleet and provide real-time support to the crew, around-the-clock, performance management and fast response capabilities if the need arises. Combined with an analytics platform that helps them capture and act on detailed insights from the data, the company has tested artificial intelligence capabilities that enable the platform to identify advanced correlations that humans would normally not be able to catch on first sight. TM Master as the preferred maintenance and purchasing system will fit into this digital strategy. TM Master has been designed to enable you to take care of your assets; vessels, crew and cargo. The fleet management system consists of the following modules: maintenance, procurement, human resources and quality & environment. TM Master is designed to work with future operating systems and is also ideally suited for integration with third party software such as ERP software.

Conclusion

Ship management companies seem to be divided into two types; those that developed from departments of ship owners and charterers such as Anglo-Eastern, BSM, Wallem and Wilhelmsen. The other is those that have been more recently set up specifically to cater to the ship management industry. This reflects in their approach to automation and AI. It makes little financial sense to promote technology that reduces or diminishes reliance on technically and legally qualified crew if one of your main streams of income is manning and associated costs. Dr Malcolm Willingale of Henley Business School and author, with others, of “Ship Management” has suggested that the level of the management fees might be around $75,000 – 100,000 per annum for a bulk carrier, $90,000 - 150,000 per annum for a tanker and approximately $400,000 per annum for a cruise vessel. The difference is largely driven by crew, provisions and insurance costs Even though the expenses for the SMCs have increased around 10% the last years, due to the demand for investment in IT systems and safety and quality management, the weakening of the dollar and the rising service delivery costs, the management fees have stayed at the same levels as in the past or even declined. On the other hand, those ship management companies, whose parent companies have their own ships, know that there is more profit to be had from more automation. True AI and unmanned or deeply automated shipping is still some years away, although the current pandemic may have hastened its adoption somewhat. The companies that adopt it are almost assuredly going to be owner-operated such as Maersk, COSCO and such. For more information about Valour Consultancy’s maritime research, please click here.
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Telemedicine services at sea will become a must after Covid-19

Virtual Medical Services

With the abundance of connectivity today, video consultations are becoming the norm. It’s quick, convenient and highly useful.

In the UK, the NHS has been promoting an app which enables online consultations for people to contact their general practitioner doctor (GP), or other required health care profession. This can range from electronic message, phone or video call, or a face-to-face appointment at a later date if required.

The first wave of Covid-19 has been raging for months, and sadly, the pandemic has greatly impacted many peoples’ lives. One of the key battling grounds for diagnosing this virus has been testing and diagnosing it in the early stages, some countries like Germany and South Korea have done a great job of this. The lessons from dealing with this pandemic will lead to many changes in the future. In particular, large data analyses will lead to radical rethinking by governments charged with medical responsibility. In countries where there is a free-market health industry may take some time to catch up because of lack of central responsibility.

One such change in the maritime industry will be the inclusion of telemedicine services. The shortage of skilled medical workers and a lack of healthcare infrastructure at sea will be evaluated thoroughly in the coming months. We can expect a much larger part to be played by AI in initial diagnosis and preventative medicine. Seamen may be required to wear wrist health monitors (similar to fitbits). Cruise ships, even those who normally carry medical staff, will need to increase their vigilance to prevent another industry shut-down which is likely to last six months or more. Centralised air-conditioning systems will need to be re-evaluated as will many other shared facilities. Many Cruise operators already operate smart-token systems allowing access and monitoring of movement of passengers. It would not be out of order if these tokens also recorded activity and basic health parameters, alerting a medical AI system to any potential problems.

Providing crew welfare services like the ability for seafarers to communicate with their families and friends is now a must. Providing healthcare services to crew will also become a major factor soon. Telemedicine offers practical and valuable solution to address this matter. A potentially ill seafarer can be examined via videolink without a nurse or doctor being there in person providing simple variables such as temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure and blood sugar and blood oxygen levels can be provided automatically. These are all well within the bounds of current technology. These are already available to many land-based patients in this new world of social distancing after lockdowns will be ended in most countries soon. A medical professional or team with an AI sidekick will likely be able to cover a large number of vessels per fleet, providing infections or outbreaks are not too great.

From a crew member’s perspective, one of the biggest concerns of an illness is the uncertainty of what it is and what it could lead to. Alleviating these worries will be a plus for crew wellbeing and will go a long way meet new maritime labour regulations that are soon to be promoted by the IMO/STCW labour regulations and probably the EU too.

We will likely see a host of connectivity service providers, such as Marlink and Inmarsat offering such value-added services in addition to its connectivity ones. From designs already available, some cost effective basic medical equipment will be required with an interface for the patient or administer and a camera for recording purposes. Basic medical equipment could include a blood pressure monitor, electro cardiograph, pulse oximeter, ultrasound device or thermometer. The range of equipment for the customer can easily be adjusted based seafarers’ medical histories and their likely conditions. It is unlikely we will see intensive care units or beds onboard a vessel, or breathing apparatus. If a seafarer does suffer from an acute Covid-19 attack, they would likely be flown off the vessel to a medical facility. By far the most common health emergency for sea-farers is accident, heart attack and stroke.

Valour Consultancy expects nearly 60-70 per cent of commercial vessels with VSAT to adopt telemedicine services in the next two to three years.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5396|medium" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Telemedicine-300x123.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] With the abundance of connectivity today, video consultations are becoming the norm. It’s quick, convenient and highly useful. In the UK, the NHS has been promoting an app which enables online consultations for people to contact their general practitioner doctor (GP), or other required health care profession. This can range from electronic message, phone or video call, or a face-to-face appointment at a later date if required. The first wave of Covid-19 has been raging for months, and sadly, the pandemic has greatly impacted many peoples’ lives. One of the key battling grounds for diagnosing this virus has been testing and diagnosing it in the early stages, some countries like Germany and South Korea have done a great job of this. The lessons from dealing with this pandemic will lead to many changes in the future. In particular, large data analyses will lead to radical rethinking by governments charged with medical responsibility. In countries where there is a free-market health industry may take some time to catch up because of lack of central responsibility. One such change in the maritime industry will be the inclusion of telemedicine services. The shortage of skilled medical workers and a lack of healthcare infrastructure at sea will be evaluated thoroughly in the coming months. We can expect a much larger part to be played by AI in initial diagnosis and preventative medicine. Seamen may be required to wear wrist health monitors (similar to fitbits). Cruise ships, even those who normally carry medical staff, will need to increase their vigilance to prevent another industry shut-down which is likely to last six months or more. Centralised air-conditioning systems will need to be re-evaluated as will many other shared facilities. Many Cruise operators already operate smart-token systems allowing access and monitoring of movement of passengers. It would not be out of order if these tokens also recorded activity and basic health parameters, alerting a medical AI system to any potential problems. Providing crew welfare services like the ability for seafarers to communicate with their families and friends is now a must. Providing healthcare services to crew will also become a major factor soon. Telemedicine offers practical and valuable solution to address this matter. A potentially ill seafarer can be examined via videolink without a nurse or doctor being there in person providing simple variables such as temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure and blood sugar and blood oxygen levels can be provided automatically. These are all well within the bounds of current technology. These are already available to many land-based patients in this new world of social distancing after lockdowns will be ended in most countries soon. A medical professional or team with an AI sidekick will likely be able to cover a large number of vessels per fleet, providing infections or outbreaks are not too great. From a crew member’s perspective, one of the biggest concerns of an illness is the uncertainty of what it is and what it could lead to. Alleviating these worries will be a plus for crew wellbeing and will go a long way meet new maritime labour regulations that are soon to be promoted by the IMO/STCW labour regulations and probably the EU too. We will likely see a host of connectivity service providers, such as Marlink and Inmarsat offering such value-added services in addition to its connectivity ones. From designs already available, some cost effective basic medical equipment will be required with an interface for the patient or administer and a camera for recording purposes. Basic medical equipment could include a blood pressure monitor, electro cardiograph, pulse oximeter, ultrasound device or thermometer. The range of equipment for the customer can easily be adjusted based seafarers’ medical histories and their likely conditions. It is unlikely we will see intensive care units or beds onboard a vessel, or breathing apparatus. If a seafarer does suffer from an acute Covid-19 attack, they would likely be flown off the vessel to a medical facility. By far the most common health emergency for sea-farers is accident, heart attack and stroke. Valour Consultancy expects nearly 60-70 per cent of commercial vessels with VSAT to adopt telemedicine services in the next two to three years. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

OneWeb Bankruptcy Only Intensifies Battle for ESA Supremacy

On March 27th 2020, London-based satellite firm, OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and in doing so surprised some and merely confirmed what others had seen coming for some time. Much has been written, both pre- and post-bankruptcy, around the challenges associated with making the LEO business model work and, more specifically what was wrong with OneWeb’s approach. This post won’t be adding to that commentary. I’ve instead opted to focus on the potential impact to those involved in the production of the next generation of antennas, which rely heavily on LEO constellations succeeding.

Right now, there is a race (perhaps better labelled a marathon at this point) been run amongst a sizeable number of hardware manufacturers to build a new generation of fully electronically steerable antennas (ESA’s), primarily to bring the best out of NGSO satellite constellations. I respectfully refer to this as a marathon rather than a sprint because developing such a solution has proven costly and complex, and despite years of rhetoric, an ESA which hits all the right notes remains elusive. Having been fortunate enough to meet with a number of the vendors currently developing ESA’s, there can be no doubt the industry is as close as it has ever been to bringing a commercially ready product to market. But there is also still some way to go, and for most, continued development (and ultimately getting a product to market) depends on further investment and agreements, primarily with NGSO operators like OneWeb.

The significance of OneWeb in the context of this story lies mostly in the fact it had progressed as far as actually sending some satellites into orbit. Whilst those in the know will likely shake their heads reading this, OneWeb’s LEO constellation was perceived by many as one of the few that would eventually go on to succeed; perhaps symbolic of how much uncertainty and confusion there is linked to LEO. This “front runner” status and broad target market made OneWeb an attractive target for any ESA manufacturer looking to raise its profile through association. Notable examples include Istropic Systems, which in 2018 announced it was to develop an ultra-low-cost consumer broadband terminal for OneWeb primed for various end-user applications, and US-based Wafer, a company self-funded by OneWeb founder, Greg Wyler, which was reported to be working toward delivering a low-cost ESA for the LEO network this year.

The need to remain relevant in the seemingly inevitable era of LEO isn’t reserved solely for ESA vendors. In March 2020, Intellian and Cobham signed contracts to manufacture “more traditional” parabolic user terminals destined for OneWeb’s prospective enterprise, cellular backhaul, maritime and government clients. OneWeb’s bankruptcy will no doubt have repercussions here too but Intellian and Cobham are arguably better placed to cushion the blow by being able to fall back on existing GEO business segments, most notably maritime connectivity where the two have a combined 70 per cent share of active installed VSAT terminals.

Furthermore, despite what some may say, the current cost and fundamental physics associated with ESA’s dictates that the business case for them falls apart without NGSO constellations. This isn’t to say collaboration between ESA manufacturers and GEO operators is to be disregarded. Inmarsat, Intelsat and Viasat are just three GEO incumbents known to active in the ESA segment today. The former is understood to be keeping a close eye on ESA developments as part of continued enhancements to its GX network, which will include two new payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) from 2022. High up on that list is a collaboration between Safran and Jet-Talk (a joint venture between ST Electronics and Satixfy) which are forging ahead with development of an ARINC 792 compliant ESA that could become the first ESA antenna certified for GX. Intelsat, meanwhile, has brought Kymeta on as a preferred supplier of Communications-on-the-Move (COTM) terminals as part of its FlexMove services.

But the point here is that success will not come by competing with existing antenna technology in the GEO arena alone, especially in fixed terminal market where incumbent technology is more cost effective today. The commercial launch of large-scale LEO constellations that lend themselves to ESA’s are an essential ingredient in the mix. It can be argued that OneWeb’s fall pushes back the already overdue timeframe for a commercially ready LEO constellation becoming active by at least a year or more.

Clearly then, the loss of OneWeb can only be seen as a set-back for those with a stake in the development of ESA’s and the situation is only made worse by the current stance of the other current major player, SpaceX to manufacture terminals in-house. But, as touched upon briefly above, there are positives. In the short term, a small number of solutions will be deployed in GEO mobility applications, specifically the military sector and aviation, where price sensitivity is minimal, reliability is crucial, and discretion is king. There are also other operators still pushing ahead with commitments to build NGSO constellations, most notably; SES with its O3b mPOWER MEO constellation, Amazon (with it Kuiper project), Telesat and China’s proposed Hongyun and Hongyan constellations. There could also yet be a reincarnation of OneWeb that goes on to succeed where v1.0 failed – we’ve seen that before.

But what should become clear is that there is now a greater pressure on ESA manufacturers to build confidence and stand out from the crowd by forging partnerships with GEO, MEO and LEO operators, as well as influential end-users such as government departments. None of which will happen without possessing the technology to back up the rhetoric.

Linked to the above, Isotropic Systems continues to work toward a 2022 launch of its terminal designed for SES’ O3b mPOWER constellation, having been chosen as a preferred supplier, along with ALCAN and Viasat. Similarly, Gilat Satellite Networks and Ball Aerospace are just two of the vendors to carry out ESA demonstrations with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. The former performed what is thought to be the first in-flight test of an ESA over a NGSO satellite. Telesat has also doubled down on its intentions to build a LEO constellation of 300 satellites in a March 2020 investor call. Finally, in May 2019 Boeing Phantom Works announced it will deploy its in-house built ESA on new U.S. Navy MQ-25 drones as part of a wider military contract it had won.

In summary, the fall of OneWeb by no means kills off the ESA story. Far from it. But from my point of view, what it does do is both delay the arrival of commercially ready solutions hitting the market and speed up the rate at which manufacturers will drop out of the ESA race. The intensity has been turned up a notch and what we should now see is the cream to rise to the top.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5384|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/international-space-station-1176518_1920-e1588731887331.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] On March 27th 2020, London-based satellite firm, OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and in doing so surprised some and merely confirmed what others had seen coming for some time. Much has been written, both pre- and post-bankruptcy, around the challenges associated with making the LEO business model work and, more specifically what was wrong with OneWeb’s approach. This post won’t be adding to that commentary. I’ve instead opted to focus on the potential impact to those involved in the production of the next generation of antennas, which rely heavily on LEO constellations succeeding. Right now, there is a race (perhaps better labelled a marathon at this point) been run amongst a sizeable number of hardware manufacturers to build a new generation of fully electronically steerable antennas (ESA’s), primarily to bring the best out of NGSO satellite constellations. I respectfully refer to this as a marathon rather than a sprint because developing such a solution has proven costly and complex, and despite years of rhetoric, an ESA which hits all the right notes remains elusive. Having been fortunate enough to meet with a number of the vendors currently developing ESA’s, there can be no doubt the industry is as close as it has ever been to bringing a commercially ready product to market. But there is also still some way to go, and for most, continued development (and ultimately getting a product to market) depends on further investment and agreements, primarily with NGSO operators like OneWeb. The significance of OneWeb in the context of this story lies mostly in the fact it had progressed as far as actually sending some satellites into orbit. Whilst those in the know will likely shake their heads reading this, OneWeb’s LEO constellation was perceived by many as one of the few that would eventually go on to succeed; perhaps symbolic of how much uncertainty and confusion there is linked to LEO. This “front runner” status and broad target market made OneWeb an attractive target for any ESA manufacturer looking to raise its profile through association. Notable examples include Istropic Systems, which in 2018 announced it was to develop an ultra-low-cost consumer broadband terminal for OneWeb primed for various end-user applications, and US-based Wafer, a company self-funded by OneWeb founder, Greg Wyler, which was reported to be working toward delivering a low-cost ESA for the LEO network this year. The need to remain relevant in the seemingly inevitable era of LEO isn’t reserved solely for ESA vendors. In March 2020, Intellian and Cobham signed contracts to manufacture “more traditional” parabolic user terminals destined for OneWeb’s prospective enterprise, cellular backhaul, maritime and government clients. OneWeb’s bankruptcy will no doubt have repercussions here too but Intellian and Cobham are arguably better placed to cushion the blow by being able to fall back on existing GEO business segments, most notably maritime connectivity where the two have a combined 70 per cent share of active installed VSAT terminals. Furthermore, despite what some may say, the current cost and fundamental physics associated with ESA’s dictates that the business case for them falls apart without NGSO constellations. This isn’t to say collaboration between ESA manufacturers and GEO operators is to be disregarded. Inmarsat, Intelsat and Viasat are just three GEO incumbents known to active in the ESA segment today. The former is understood to be keeping a close eye on ESA developments as part of continued enhancements to its GX network, which will include two new payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) from 2022. High up on that list is a collaboration between Safran and Jet-Talk (a joint venture between ST Electronics and Satixfy) which are forging ahead with development of an ARINC 792 compliant ESA that could become the first ESA antenna certified for GX. Intelsat, meanwhile, has brought Kymeta on as a preferred supplier of Communications-on-the-Move (COTM) terminals as part of its FlexMove services. But the point here is that success will not come by competing with existing antenna technology in the GEO arena alone, especially in fixed terminal market where incumbent technology is more cost effective today. The commercial launch of large-scale LEO constellations that lend themselves to ESA’s are an essential ingredient in the mix. It can be argued that OneWeb’s fall pushes back the already overdue timeframe for a commercially ready LEO constellation becoming active by at least a year or more. Clearly then, the loss of OneWeb can only be seen as a set-back for those with a stake in the development of ESA’s and the situation is only made worse by the current stance of the other current major player, SpaceX to manufacture terminals in-house. But, as touched upon briefly above, there are positives. In the short term, a small number of solutions will be deployed in GEO mobility applications, specifically the military sector and aviation, where price sensitivity is minimal, reliability is crucial, and discretion is king. There are also other operators still pushing ahead with commitments to build NGSO constellations, most notably; SES with its O3b mPOWER MEO constellation, Amazon (with it Kuiper project), Telesat and China’s proposed Hongyun and Hongyan constellations. There could also yet be a reincarnation of OneWeb that goes on to succeed where v1.0 failed – we’ve seen that before. But what should become clear is that there is now a greater pressure on ESA manufacturers to build confidence and stand out from the crowd by forging partnerships with GEO, MEO and LEO operators, as well as influential end-users such as government departments. None of which will happen without possessing the technology to back up the rhetoric. Linked to the above, Isotropic Systems continues to work toward a 2022 launch of its terminal designed for SES’ O3b mPOWER constellation, having been chosen as a preferred supplier, along with ALCAN and Viasat. Similarly, Gilat Satellite Networks and Ball Aerospace are just two of the vendors to carry out ESA demonstrations with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite. The former performed what is thought to be the first in-flight test of an ESA over a NGSO satellite. Telesat has also doubled down on its intentions to build a LEO constellation of 300 satellites in a March 2020 investor call. Finally, in May 2019 Boeing Phantom Works announced it will deploy its in-house built ESA on new U.S. Navy MQ-25 drones as part of a wider military contract it had won. In summary, the fall of OneWeb by no means kills off the ESA story. Far from it. But from my point of view, what it does do is both delay the arrival of commercially ready solutions hitting the market and speed up the rate at which manufacturers will drop out of the ESA race. The intensity has been turned up a notch and what we should now see is the cream to rise to the top. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Calm Seas and Smooth Surfing

Author: Steve Flood and Josh Flood

This is all in the future. But what about the future future? Almost all the projects described in the last article, bar one or two, are retrofits of existing vessels. They are the projects of specialist technologically advanced consortia. As the demand for autonomous shipping grips the maritime fleet owners, they will look to the shipyards to incorporate the sensors, controls and communications equipment in their newbuilds.

Larger fleet owners such as Maersk, COSCO, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC will be able to write exacting specifications when they approach a shipyard to build 5 or 10 autonomous vessels. Over 40% of the tonnage of trading vessels in the world consists of dry bulk carriers which are ideal for automisation, as are the 28% that are oil tankers and the 13% that are container ships. CSIC, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, STX and DSME shipyards will have the resources and be happy to comply with the requirements of the heavy hitters in the Merchant Navy.

Smaller fleet operators, say, with less than ten vessels, who order ships individually, will expect the shipyard to supply the automisation. The Korean and Singaporean yards already have smart ship projects underway, as do Mitsubishi in Japan. Yards in China, other yards in Japan and elsewhere will have to bring in expertise. Hyundai’s collaboration with Accenture to develop OceanLink is described as a ‘smart ship’ platform for the shipbuilding, shipping, and onshore-logistics sectors. Daewoo (DSME) shipyard has received Approval in Principle (AiP) from Lloyd’s Register for its collaboration with Korean marine system experts, marineworks, who use KVH communication systems for its smart ship solution (DS4) for new container ships.

Without completely destroying the romance, it is possible to describe a merchant ship as a big box with a large engine driving the propeller. To look after the engine, there is an engine control room into which all the parameters of the engine and ancillary equipment are fed and where activities can be scheduled to keep everything running in a tickety-boo fashion. To keep the ship heading in the right direction, there is a bridge or navigation control room somewhere up high where the helmsman can see the horizon.

Experience with drones has suggested that there is no need for the pilot to sit at the sharp end of a plane but can operate his vehicle from the comfort of his armchair in Texas. In the same way, the chief engineer need not man the engine control room aboard his ship nor the skipper pace the bridge. The major difference between a drone and a cargo ship is the sheer volume of data. Even in the most basic of cargo ships there will be hundreds of sensors on the engines and ancillary equipment plus CCTV, fire alarms, gas detectors, stress measurements, safety systems etc. The bridge will be equally bedecked with data points and all these are connected by tens of miles of wiring.

Admittedly the vast majority of data travelling these wires does not need to be transmitted instantaneously to any remote control room. Warnings, alarms and requests for action do need to be addressed in short order and there are plenty of these, even in the most well-maintained and efficient of ships. It may be considered that artificial intelligence (AI) can sort through these and deal with the most routine. Technically competent engineers and seamen who have not only the knowledge and experience to understand the potential problems and understand the coding needed to deal with this, in AI, are relatively rare. For this reason alone, progress needs to be considerate and systems commissioned to deal with failure and not just to comply with rules and specifications.

Typically a smart ship system can be described as an array of modules each designed to do the job once done by seamen. The accumulated data derived from the observations, decisions and actions of these pseudo-cyber-seamen modules can amount to Terabytes per hour. If live-streaming CCTV is added, there is going to be a need for a large amount of communication capacity.

And then there is the problem of the communication infrastructure – Low Earth Orbit (LEO) arrays such as Iridium, OneWeb, LeoSat, O3b and Elon Musk’s Starlink promise the potential of significant data transfer. Indeed, Samsung published a paper in 2015 proposal suggesting the provision of a Zetabyte/month capacity which is equivalent to 200GB/month for 5 Billion users worldwide. The problem for such a proposal is underutilisation. Such satellites orbit the earth every two hours and, of that, spend about one third over populated areas where they are used fully.

Geostationary arrays, such as Inmarsat, Intelsat and Echostar, and Medium Earth orbit arrays such as Galileo, GPS and GLONASS are positioned for populous areas but also have spare time on their antennae. To fully utilise these arrays, there needs to be users around the globe and the oceans have a relative dearth of need.

A quick look at marine traffic (www.marinetraffic.com) on an unremarkable Sunday 21st July 2019 shows that there are over 200,000 marine vessels large enough to be fitted with an AIS tracker sailing the oceans blue. All of these are currently being tracked by satellite. Admittedly they don’t send a lot of data back home, just enough for tracking purposes. If they were all smart or smartish, then there is a need for a large data pipeline back to headquarters.

The serendipitous, or not so serendipitous, advancement of autonomous shipping and satellite communication has potentially many benefits – cheaper trade, safer ships (it is estimated that 75 to 96% of shipping accidents involve human error), less pollution, greater fuel efficiency – one research project by MUNIN (Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks) predicted savings of over $7m over a 25-year period per autonomous vessel in fuel consumption and crew supplies and salaries.

Of course, there are downsides, for instance, a large initial capital expenditure in technology, not only for the ship itself, but also of onshore operations to monitor fleet movements. There is also the danger that occurs during in any transition between current manned marine fleet and any unmanned vessel. A lack of crew will also make maintenance of moving parts incredibly difficult on long voyages and breakdowns could result in significant delays.

Something that is scantly regarded is the removal of benefit of international inter-reaction. Each of these ships will have crews of international origin. This is estimated at 1,647,500 seafarers, of which 774,000 are officers and 873,500 are ratings. China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are the five largest nationalities of all seafarers (officers and ratings). The Philippines is the biggest supplier of ratings, followed by China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. While China is the biggest supplier of officers, followed by the Philippines, India, Indonesia and the Russian Federation. These crews rub along quite well generally, and as one who has spent some time at sea, the writer can state that one of the great pleasures of sea-time (and one of the great annoyances) is inter-reacting with all the foreign crew members and learning about their culture and cuisine.

However autonomous shipping is steaming over the horizon and it must be welcomed into port if our general prosperity is to increase. The really interesting time comes after autonomous shipping when AI takes over the logistics and trading, assessing cargo prices and starts re-routing ships to maximise profit.

For more information on Valour Consultancy’s maritime connectivity, digital applications, cybersecurity, autonomous maritime vessel and other maritime reports, please contact   info@valourconsultancy.com and “Maritime Research” in the subject line.

 

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4774|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Calm-Seas-and-Smooth-Sailing-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text] Author: Steve Flood and Josh Flood This is all in the future. But what about the future future? Almost all the projects described in the last article, bar one or two, are retrofits of existing vessels. They are the projects of specialist technologically advanced consortia. As the demand for autonomous shipping grips the maritime fleet owners, they will look to the shipyards to incorporate the sensors, controls and communications equipment in their newbuilds. Larger fleet owners such as Maersk, COSCO, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC will be able to write exacting specifications when they approach a shipyard to build 5 or 10 autonomous vessels. Over 40% of the tonnage of trading vessels in the world consists of dry bulk carriers which are ideal for automisation, as are the 28% that are oil tankers and the 13% that are container ships. CSIC, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, STX and DSME shipyards will have the resources and be happy to comply with the requirements of the heavy hitters in the Merchant Navy. Smaller fleet operators, say, with less than ten vessels, who order ships individually, will expect the shipyard to supply the automisation. The Korean and Singaporean yards already have smart ship projects underway, as do Mitsubishi in Japan. Yards in China, other yards in Japan and elsewhere will have to bring in expertise. Hyundai’s collaboration with Accenture to develop OceanLink is described as a ‘smart ship’ platform for the shipbuilding, shipping, and onshore-logistics sectors. Daewoo (DSME) shipyard has received Approval in Principle (AiP) from Lloyd’s Register for its collaboration with Korean marine system experts, marineworks, who use KVH communication systems for its smart ship solution (DS4) for new container ships. Without completely destroying the romance, it is possible to describe a merchant ship as a big box with a large engine driving the propeller. To look after the engine, there is an engine control room into which all the parameters of the engine and ancillary equipment are fed and where activities can be scheduled to keep everything running in a tickety-boo fashion. To keep the ship heading in the right direction, there is a bridge or navigation control room somewhere up high where the helmsman can see the horizon. Experience with drones has suggested that there is no need for the pilot to sit at the sharp end of a plane but can operate his vehicle from the comfort of his armchair in Texas. In the same way, the chief engineer need not man the engine control room aboard his ship nor the skipper pace the bridge. The major difference between a drone and a cargo ship is the sheer volume of data. Even in the most basic of cargo ships there will be hundreds of sensors on the engines and ancillary equipment plus CCTV, fire alarms, gas detectors, stress measurements, safety systems etc. The bridge will be equally bedecked with data points and all these are connected by tens of miles of wiring. Admittedly the vast majority of data travelling these wires does not need to be transmitted instantaneously to any remote control room. Warnings, alarms and requests for action do need to be addressed in short order and there are plenty of these, even in the most well-maintained and efficient of ships. It may be considered that artificial intelligence (AI) can sort through these and deal with the most routine. Technically competent engineers and seamen who have not only the knowledge and experience to understand the potential problems and understand the coding needed to deal with this, in AI, are relatively rare. For this reason alone, progress needs to be considerate and systems commissioned to deal with failure and not just to comply with rules and specifications. Typically a smart ship system can be described as an array of modules each designed to do the job once done by seamen. The accumulated data derived from the observations, decisions and actions of these pseudo-cyber-seamen modules can amount to Terabytes per hour. If live-streaming CCTV is added, there is going to be a need for a large amount of communication capacity. And then there is the problem of the communication infrastructure – Low Earth Orbit (LEO) arrays such as Iridium, OneWeb, LeoSat, O3b and Elon Musk’s Starlink promise the potential of significant data transfer. Indeed, Samsung published a paper in 2015 proposal suggesting the provision of a Zetabyte/month capacity which is equivalent to 200GB/month for 5 Billion users worldwide. The problem for such a proposal is underutilisation. Such satellites orbit the earth every two hours and, of that, spend about one third over populated areas where they are used fully. Geostationary arrays, such as Inmarsat, Intelsat and Echostar, and Medium Earth orbit arrays such as Galileo, GPS and GLONASS are positioned for populous areas but also have spare time on their antennae. To fully utilise these arrays, there needs to be users around the globe and the oceans have a relative dearth of need. A quick look at marine traffic (www.marinetraffic.com) on an unremarkable Sunday 21st July 2019 shows that there are over 200,000 marine vessels large enough to be fitted with an AIS tracker sailing the oceans blue. All of these are currently being tracked by satellite. Admittedly they don’t send a lot of data back home, just enough for tracking purposes. If they were all smart or smartish, then there is a need for a large data pipeline back to headquarters. The serendipitous, or not so serendipitous, advancement of autonomous shipping and satellite communication has potentially many benefits – cheaper trade, safer ships (it is estimated that 75 to 96% of shipping accidents involve human error), less pollution, greater fuel efficiency – one research project by MUNIN (Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks) predicted savings of over $7m over a 25-year period per autonomous vessel in fuel consumption and crew supplies and salaries. Of course, there are downsides, for instance, a large initial capital expenditure in technology, not only for the ship itself, but also of onshore operations to monitor fleet movements. There is also the danger that occurs during in any transition between current manned marine fleet and any unmanned vessel. A lack of crew will also make maintenance of moving parts incredibly difficult on long voyages and breakdowns could result in significant delays. Something that is scantly regarded is the removal of benefit of international inter-reaction. Each of these ships will have crews of international origin. This is estimated at 1,647,500 seafarers, of which 774,000 are officers and 873,500 are ratings. China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are the five largest nationalities of all seafarers (officers and ratings). The Philippines is the biggest supplier of ratings, followed by China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. While China is the biggest supplier of officers, followed by the Philippines, India, Indonesia and the Russian Federation. These crews rub along quite well generally, and as one who has spent some time at sea, the writer can state that one of the great pleasures of sea-time (and one of the great annoyances) is inter-reacting with all the foreign crew members and learning about their culture and cuisine. However autonomous shipping is steaming over the horizon and it must be welcomed into port if our general prosperity is to increase. The really interesting time comes after autonomous shipping when AI takes over the logistics and trading, assessing cargo prices and starts re-routing ships to maximise profit. For more information on Valour Consultancy’s maritime connectivity, digital applications, cybersecurity, autonomous maritime vessel and other maritime reports, please contact   info@valourconsultancy.com and “Maritime Research” in the subject line.   [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Time to Get Your Assets in Gear

Author: Steve Flood and Josh Flood

For some time, the maritime and offshore industry has been dipping its toe into the potential benefit pool of remote monitoring, predictive maintenance and reliability surveillance of its remote assets. This is the result of two threads of development; one coming from deep water inshore and one going from inshore towards deep water.

Almost all modern international and coastal shipping uses sophisticated engine monitoring and control systems as supplied by the engine manufacturer (normally required as any part of a performance guarantee).

Below is a list of major marine engine manufacturers and their control systems. These are not in any particular order and there are several more producing smaller engines.

The reason these are mentioned is that the age of the “Smart Ship” has been creeping towards us for several decades. Various pieces of a ship’s operation have been under stand-alone microprocessor control and monitoring for some time – the engine, fire suppression, air-conditioning and, even to a certain extent, navigation and bridge control.

Largely, as a result of the needs of the deep-water offshore oil exploration vessels that work in waters of such depths that anchorage is not possible, these independent systems have been brought together as suites of allied programmes or applications that report to a supervisory program which controls their performance and the vessel behaviour according to parameters given it and reports any malfunctions or warnings to the marine and engineering crew. These have developed sufficiently that when danger threatens, such as a major hurricane, the crews are taken ashore and the deep-water vessels are left under autonomic control. The big names here are Kongsberg, GE Power Conversion (previously Converteam), Siemens, Wärtsilä and ABB (Ability Marine Pilot Vision.)

Meanwhile, in the duck pond, the boat model enthusiasts have been quietly expanding their repertoire of tricks. From model battleships on park lakes to surface and underwater drones, control systems have been quietly developing into sophisticated algorithms that allow virtually independent operation or, at least, remote monitoring, control and operation. Some purveyors of smaller systems are Reygar Marine (BareFleet), MINSHIP (using DNV GL’s software) and SERTICA.

In May 2018, the senior technical body of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the Marine Safety Committee (MSC) defined a ‘Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS)’ as a ship, which to a varying degree, can operate independently of human interaction. It enlisted several non-hierarchical degrees of autonomy that a ship could have for the duration of a single voyage as:

Degree one: Ship with automated processes and decision support. Seafarers are on board to operate and control shipboard systems and functions. Some operations may be automated and at times be unsupervised, but with seafarers on board ready to take control.

Degree two: Remotely controlled ship with seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location. Seafarers are available on board to take control and to operate the shipboard systems and functions.

Degree three: Remotely controlled ship without seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location.

Degree four: Fully autonomous ship. The operating system of the ship is able to make decisions and determine actions by itself.

According to Wärtsilä’s Vice President, Vladimir Ponomarev “Autonomous shipping will continue to evolve over the next 15–30 years. In the future, ship traffic control will move to the shore and a standardised framework very similar to what we have in aviation today will likely be established. This level of co-ordination will be needed in maritime. Planes are almost fully controlled by auto-pilot and in this sense, they are autonomous despite the fact that they still have crew on board to balance the risks in emergency cases. We cannot fully eliminate the human factor at sea, that’s not the objective either, but I do foresee a similar future for shipping,”

Although deep-water drillships and semi-submersibles are capable of autonomous station keeping during dangerous weather, the maritime industry has not yet made the leap to full autonomy. This will most probably occur not from offshore to coastal shipping but in exactly the opposite direction.

There are already two autonomous ferries. Wärtsilä tested the 85m Folgefonn, a car ferry, in November 2108, under full autonomous operation, with no human intervention, visiting three different ports in Norway.

In December 2018, Rolls Royce demonstrated the 54m Finferries ferry Falco near Turku in Finland. This is a 1993 vessel retro-fitted with SVAN (Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation). This is part of its Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) project. They are working on an unmanned cargo ship which will be driven from the shore. Their goal is to let this ship sail in 2020. Rolls-Royce, now owned by Kongsberg, works with several maritime companies, such as Deltamarin, DNV GL, Brighthouse NAPA and Inmarsat.

Harbour tugs are clearly ripe candidates for autonomous control. Any pilot or Harbour Master that can control his tugs directly would have a tremendous advantage over traditional docking arrangements. This why Singapore’s Marine and Port Authority (MPA) is embarking on five autonomous shipping projects aimed at future-proofing operations at its busy transhipment port.

It collaborating with with PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH), M1 (a Singaporean telecommunications provider), and the classification society the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to convert an existing manned tugboat to a smart autonomous vessel.

It is co-funding another project with Wärtsilä, pilotage services provider PSA Marine and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore to develop of a smart tug – IntelliTug. PSA Marine tug operations perform over 90,000 towage jobs a year and are an important lifeline for Singapore.

Keppel Singmarine, a subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, has secured a grant of Singaporean $2m ($1.5m US) to develop of an autonomous tug to be operated by Keppel Smit Towage. It involves retrofitting a 65-tonne tug with advanced systems such as position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision, collision detection ad avoidance. There will be an onshore command centre to remotely control the tug using the 4.5G network set up by M1. Interestingly it involves the development of a digital twin of the tug to simulate vessel behaviour in various scenarios and optimise vessel operations.

It is co-funding an autonomous flotsam clearing vessel.

By far the most ambitious project involves an ocean-going car carrier operated by Mitsui. This project calls on ST Engineering, a Singapore-listed yard operating conglomerate, to develop and install perception and navigation modules on board the Singapore-flagged vessel which is capable of ferrying 8,000 cars. Lloyd’s Register will lend its expertise on assurance, certification and regulation as well as approval of systems for the application of autonomous shipping technology on the vessel. The project will see the carrier navigate routes through the busiest waterways and shipping lanes, including the Suez Canal, Panama Canal, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Mitsui have already demonstrated virtual auto-berthing and un-berthing and plan a practical demonstration this year.

In a separate development in Norway, fertilizer producer Yara and maritime technology firm Kongsberg Gruppe are working on a project to build the world’s first autonomous ship: Yara Birkeland. In 2018, the vessel was tested with a captain and a small crew with the goal to have the ship fully autonomous in 2020. Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. With this vessel, Yara will reduce diesel-powered truck haulage by 40,000 journeys a year.

Industry experts speculate that most degrees of tug automation is 5 to 10 years away but Valour Consultancy suspects that 2 to 3 years is a more likely scenario barring severe recessions or war. Integrated Automation Systems (IAS) are almost upon us and the increasing availability of world-wide 4G-5G communication is an integral part of the recipe. Communication providers such as Inmarsat and KVH are at the forefront of providing this facility. In particular, Kongsberg Digital plans to utilize KVH Watch IoT Connectivity as a Service in their digitalization product portfolio. It will feature two modes: Watch Flow, for 24/7, machine-to-machine data delivery compatible with major IoT ecosystems such as Kognifai; and Watch Intervention, for on-demand high-speed sessions for face-to-face support and remote equipment access.

For more information on Valour Consultancy’s maritime connectivity, digital applications, cybersecurity, autonomous maritime vessel and other maritime reports, please contact info@valourconsultancy.com and “Maritime Research” in the subject line.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] Author: Steve Flood and Josh Flood For some time, the maritime and offshore industry has been dipping its toe into the potential benefit pool of remote monitoring, predictive maintenance and reliability surveillance of its remote assets. This is the result of two threads of development; one coming from deep water inshore and one going from inshore towards deep water. Almost all modern international and coastal shipping uses sophisticated engine monitoring and control systems as supplied by the engine manufacturer (normally required as any part of a performance guarantee). [/fusion_text][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] Below is a list of major marine engine manufacturers and their control systems. These are not in any particular order and there are several more producing smaller engines. The reason these are mentioned is that the age of the “Smart Ship” has been creeping towards us for several decades. Various pieces of a ship’s operation have been under stand-alone microprocessor control and monitoring for some time – the engine, fire suppression, air-conditioning and, even to a certain extent, navigation and bridge control. Largely, as a result of the needs of the deep-water offshore oil exploration vessels that work in waters of such depths that anchorage is not possible, these independent systems have been brought together as suites of allied programmes or applications that report to a supervisory program which controls their performance and the vessel behaviour according to parameters given it and reports any malfunctions or warnings to the marine and engineering crew. These have developed sufficiently that when danger threatens, such as a major hurricane, the crews are taken ashore and the deep-water vessels are left under autonomic control. The big names here are Kongsberg, GE Power Conversion (previously Converteam), Siemens, Wärtsilä and ABB (Ability Marine Pilot Vision.) Meanwhile, in the duck pond, the boat model enthusiasts have been quietly expanding their repertoire of tricks. From model battleships on park lakes to surface and underwater drones, control systems have been quietly developing into sophisticated algorithms that allow virtually independent operation or, at least, remote monitoring, control and operation. Some purveyors of smaller systems are Reygar Marine (BareFleet), MINSHIP (using DNV GL’s software) and SERTICA. In May 2018, the senior technical body of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the Marine Safety Committee (MSC) defined a ‘Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS)’ as a ship, which to a varying degree, can operate independently of human interaction. It enlisted several non-hierarchical degrees of autonomy that a ship could have for the duration of a single voyage as: Degree one: Ship with automated processes and decision support. Seafarers are on board to operate and control shipboard systems and functions. Some operations may be automated and at times be unsupervised, but with seafarers on board ready to take control. Degree two: Remotely controlled ship with seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location. Seafarers are available on board to take control and to operate the shipboard systems and functions. Degree three: Remotely controlled ship without seafarers on board. The ship is controlled and operated from another location. Degree four: Fully autonomous ship. The operating system of the ship is able to make decisions and determine actions by itself. According to Wärtsilä’s Vice President, Vladimir Ponomarev “Autonomous shipping will continue to evolve over the next 15–30 years. In the future, ship traffic control will move to the shore and a standardised framework very similar to what we have in aviation today will likely be established. This level of co-ordination will be needed in maritime. Planes are almost fully controlled by auto-pilot and in this sense, they are autonomous despite the fact that they still have crew on board to balance the risks in emergency cases. We cannot fully eliminate the human factor at sea, that’s not the objective either, but I do foresee a similar future for shipping,” Although deep-water drillships and semi-submersibles are capable of autonomous station keeping during dangerous weather, the maritime industry has not yet made the leap to full autonomy. This will most probably occur not from offshore to coastal shipping but in exactly the opposite direction. There are already two autonomous ferries. Wärtsilä tested the 85m Folgefonn, a car ferry, in November 2108, under full autonomous operation, with no human intervention, visiting three different ports in Norway. In December 2018, Rolls Royce demonstrated the 54m Finferries ferry Falco near Turku in Finland. This is a 1993 vessel retro-fitted with SVAN (Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation). This is part of its Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (AAWA) project. They are working on an unmanned cargo ship which will be driven from the shore. Their goal is to let this ship sail in 2020. Rolls-Royce, now owned by Kongsberg, works with several maritime companies, such as Deltamarin, DNV GL, Brighthouse NAPA and Inmarsat. Harbour tugs are clearly ripe candidates for autonomous control. Any pilot or Harbour Master that can control his tugs directly would have a tremendous advantage over traditional docking arrangements. This why Singapore’s Marine and Port Authority (MPA) is embarking on five autonomous shipping projects aimed at future-proofing operations at its busy transhipment port. It collaborating with with PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH), M1 (a Singaporean telecommunications provider), and the classification society the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to convert an existing manned tugboat to a smart autonomous vessel. It is co-funding another project with Wärtsilä, pilotage services provider PSA Marine and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore to develop of a smart tug - IntelliTug. PSA Marine tug operations perform over 90,000 towage jobs a year and are an important lifeline for Singapore. Keppel Singmarine, a subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, has secured a grant of Singaporean $2m ($1.5m US) to develop of an autonomous tug to be operated by Keppel Smit Towage. It involves retrofitting a 65-tonne tug with advanced systems such as position manoeuvring, digital pilot vision, collision detection ad avoidance. There will be an onshore command centre to remotely control the tug using the 4.5G network set up by M1. Interestingly it involves the development of a digital twin of the tug to simulate vessel behaviour in various scenarios and optimise vessel operations. It is co-funding an autonomous flotsam clearing vessel. By far the most ambitious project involves an ocean-going car carrier operated by Mitsui. This project calls on ST Engineering, a Singapore-listed yard operating conglomerate, to develop and install perception and navigation modules on board the Singapore-flagged vessel which is capable of ferrying 8,000 cars. Lloyd’s Register will lend its expertise on assurance, certification and regulation as well as approval of systems for the application of autonomous shipping technology on the vessel. The project will see the carrier navigate routes through the busiest waterways and shipping lanes, including the Suez Canal, Panama Canal, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Mitsui have already demonstrated virtual auto-berthing and un-berthing and plan a practical demonstration this year. In a separate development in Norway, fertilizer producer Yara and maritime technology firm Kongsberg Gruppe are working on a project to build the world’s first autonomous ship: Yara Birkeland. In 2018, the vessel was tested with a captain and a small crew with the goal to have the ship fully autonomous in 2020. Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. With this vessel, Yara will reduce diesel-powered truck haulage by 40,000 journeys a year. Industry experts speculate that most degrees of tug automation is 5 to 10 years away but Valour Consultancy suspects that 2 to 3 years is a more likely scenario barring severe recessions or war. Integrated Automation Systems (IAS) are almost upon us and the increasing availability of world-wide 4G-5G communication is an integral part of the recipe. Communication providers such as Inmarsat and KVH are at the forefront of providing this facility. In particular, Kongsberg Digital plans to utilize KVH Watch IoT Connectivity as a Service in their digitalization product portfolio. It will feature two modes: Watch Flow, for 24/7, machine-to-machine data delivery compatible with major IoT ecosystems such as Kognifai; and Watch Intervention, for on-demand high-speed sessions for face-to-face support and remote equipment access. For more information on Valour Consultancy’s maritime connectivity, digital applications, cybersecurity, autonomous maritime vessel and other maritime reports, please contact info@valourconsultancy.com and “Maritime Research” in the subject line. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Speedcast Share Price Drops 40%

Speedcast International Ltd (ASX: SDA) share price fell 40% on 2nd July, wiping $340m off its value.

The market reacted to an announcement the company made earlier on Tuesday morning, in which the firm downgraded its revenue expectations for 2019. Speedcast confirmed full year earnings were expected to be in the range of $200m to $215m; down from $229m to $245m, the previous expected earnings, announced at the company’s AGM in May.

As such, Speedcast’s share price had dropped from $3.49 to $2.06 per share by the market close. As recently as August 2018, the company’s share price was as high as $6.83, before its announced planned acquisition of Globecomm.

There were three key reasons why Speedcast has downgraded its expectations for 2019:

  • Weak performance in enterprise and emerging markets, which it puts down largely to market conditions as well as a slow implementation of existing backlog.
  • Revenue delays from the second phase of their ten-year contract with National Broadband Network (NBN) as well as lower profitability due to additional resources needed during Q2 to ensure successful delivery of projects.
  • Another worrying contributing factor is a perceived market concern regarding the acquisition of Globecomm, which Speedcast completed a takeover of in December 2018. The incorporation of Globecomm’s EBITDA to Speedcast’s financials were lower than some expected. Delays in Globecomm’s government system integration projects, lower maritime revenue due to higher churn, and delays on new business have weakened the value of purchasing the American company.

Speedcast sought to stress that the difficulties experienced so far in 2019 were down to unforeseen delays and wider market factors; and not down to any structural or operational problems. The company still expect to see growth in the maritime market (approximately 5%), energy, and government segments over 2019.

The firm will hope that H2 2019 will bring better news than expected. The continued growth of the VSAT market and the potential to fully utilise Globecomm’s government contracts will give them reason to be optimistic that H2 expectations can be met.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4772|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/airport-bank-buy-534216-1200x657-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text] Speedcast International Ltd (ASX: SDA) share price fell 40% on 2nd July, wiping $340m off its value. The market reacted to an announcement the company made earlier on Tuesday morning, in which the firm downgraded its revenue expectations for 2019. Speedcast confirmed full year earnings were expected to be in the range of $200m to $215m; down from $229m to $245m, the previous expected earnings, announced at the company’s AGM in May. As such, Speedcast’s share price had dropped from $3.49 to $2.06 per share by the market close. As recently as August 2018, the company’s share price was as high as $6.83, before its announced planned acquisition of Globecomm. There were three key reasons why Speedcast has downgraded its expectations for 2019:
  • Weak performance in enterprise and emerging markets, which it puts down largely to market conditions as well as a slow implementation of existing backlog.
  • Revenue delays from the second phase of their ten-year contract with National Broadband Network (NBN) as well as lower profitability due to additional resources needed during Q2 to ensure successful delivery of projects.
  • Another worrying contributing factor is a perceived market concern regarding the acquisition of Globecomm, which Speedcast completed a takeover of in December 2018. The incorporation of Globecomm’s EBITDA to Speedcast’s financials were lower than some expected. Delays in Globecomm’s government system integration projects, lower maritime revenue due to higher churn, and delays on new business have weakened the value of purchasing the American company.
Speedcast sought to stress that the difficulties experienced so far in 2019 were down to unforeseen delays and wider market factors; and not down to any structural or operational problems. The company still expect to see growth in the maritime market (approximately 5%), energy, and government segments over 2019. The firm will hope that H2 2019 will bring better news than expected. The continued growth of the VSAT market and the potential to fully utilise Globecomm’s government contracts will give them reason to be optimistic that H2 expectations can be met. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
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