If you look up the term “smart” in the Oxford Dictionary, it is a word with various meanings.
Smart can mean intelligence, whether this be emotional, academic, and worldly intelligence. It can also mean clean, tidy, well-dressed, or a sharp stinging pain.
Then, what is maritime smart shipping?
In many ways, smart shipping means exactly what it says on the tin. The vessel is becoming ‘smarter’ with digital applications which could, say, cover remote machinery, diagnostics, CCTV/video connection services, the digitalisation of the noon report, or cloud-based storage.
A smart ship contains solutions which optimise the vessel and improves performance in a variety of ways.
But perhaps this definition is too simple. There is a good question of where does a smart ship end and an autonomous vessel begin?
It can be argued that unless a vessel is unmanned it remains to be a smart ship, but this line is blurry. With the vast improvements of AI over the last twenty years, the maritime industry is abuzz with the potential of technology. But whether autonomous vessels become a working reality any time soon, this remains to be seen (interestingly, we will have a report on this topic later this year).
Indubitably, the technology will affect the commercial maritime marketplace. A modern ship contains a plethora of systems to be able to increase productivity by streamlining processes, meet crew welfare requirements, and adhere to vessel regulations for key global demands such as decarbonisation.
Who is doing what?
The world of smart shipping has many actors, service providers, equipment manufacturers, classification societies and data analytic companies who play a significant role in the growth of the solutions.
With value-added services becoming an increasingly important portion of revenue generation to maritime service providers; smart shipping solutions are a key component. Marlink, a kingpin of maritime connectivity, Speedcast, a giant in the leisure industry, and KVH, a pioneer of contract flexibility. These solutions are well known to the industry, Marlink’s BridgeLink, Speedcasts’ SIGMA. Recently, KVH Watch has shifted to be integrated with KVH TracNet, rather than a dedicated IoT antenna, the service provider now integrates the service into primary communications.
The top dogs of equipment manufacturers are ABB, Wartsila, and Kongsberg. Kongsberg is an interesting case; the company is similar to a hydra. We have Kongsberg, the body of the monster, founded in 1814 with 12,100 employees in 34 countries. Then we have the heads of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Kongsberg Digital, Kongsberg Maritime, and Kongsberg Discovery. However, it is only two of the heads we are interested in, Kongsberg Digital and Kongsberg Maritime.
Kongsberg Digital has recently relaunched its vessel and fleet optimisation solution, and vessel performance solutions for offshore vessel operations. The solution intends to optimise engines and reduce excess equipment usage to reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The relaunch provides a more user-friendly interface.
As the market grows companies continue to pop up with specialised solutions. One example is ZeroNorth founded in 2020 as a spin-off from Maersk Tankers. The digital company focuses on reducing shipping CO2 emissions and boosting earnings by optimising voyages and vessel performance.
This focus comes at a crucial time with the implementation of new CII regulation requirements by the IMO. Beginning in January 2023, vessels of 5,000 gross tons or above, are obligated to gather data related to their voyage and fuel consumption to calculate their carbon intensity.
ScanReach, founded in 2015, is another example of one of the newer companies in the industry. The company’s key development ConnectFleet, is sensor mesh technology that allows data transfer and full wireless connectivity in confined steel environments. The focus of the IoT platform is improving crew safety and vessel performance, it is useful for a spectrum of IoT applications, including wireless control of assets, equipment, room conditions, and cargo.
Of course, we cannot leave out the data analytic companies from this line up. Like ScanReach, ioCurrents, an American maritime data analytics company, was founded in 2015. Its analytic solution MarineInsight can be broken down into predictive failures of systems on a vessel, fuel and voyage optimisation, and improved ship maintenance programs and capabilities.
The growth of smart shipping technologies leaves with us many questions:
- From the basic how can we define smart shipping?
- To where will the commercial smart shipping market be in 10 years?
- How are companies changing the maritime industry’s attitude towards digitally connected vessels?
- What is the impact of these new connectivity solutions for service providers and satellite operators?
- And finally, how will the latest regulatory technical requirements change in the future and how will this impact the market?
- What is the relationship between classification societies and smart shipping solutions?
Valour Consultancy will endeavour to answer these questions and much more with its new updated copy, The Future of Smart Shipping edition, to be released in Q4 2023. For more information on this report and to join the participant program, please click here.