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Owners’ primary drivers of digitalisation revealed in new survey

The survey finds an acceleration of maritime digitalisation, accompanied by challenges, to be outlined in a Lloyd’s List / Inmarsat webinar on December 9

DIGITALISATION has come of age for shipping over the past year. Shipowners, operators and managers are now exploring the advantages of digital solutions to better manage ship performance, minimise emissions, and optimise communications up and down the supply chain.

There is positive momentum from both global and niche players; across all maritime sectors; in ports and logistics; in ship agency, insurance, and classification. But there’s also a concern that investment might not be rewarded.

How real is the excitement, how justified are the fears?

A new survey of shipowners and managers conducted by Informa Engage for Inmarsat and Lloyd’s List has shown increasing engagement with digital solutions at a practical level. The survey results will be set out in a forthcoming publication, Digitalisation Uncovered: What’s Next for Shipping?

It is an open and honest assessment of the state of play.

“Connectivity, digitalisation, and the Internet of Things have provided critical support for shipping as a whole and the people who work in it at a time of need,” writes Inmarsat Maritime president Ronald Spithout in the publication.

“There has been a real change of attitude,” echoes Stena Bulk chief executive Erik Hånell. “Everyone now realises you can’t be left behind.”

Digitalisation must be a collaboration between shipping and technology experts because, explains Fleet Management’s chief technology officer Shah Irani: “While it’s unlikely that maritime people will be fully aware of all existing capabilities, digital people won’t know why certain data is needed in a particular format.”

Understanding the drivers of digitalisation, which sectors would benefit most, and which partners are ready and able to collaborate will be the focus of the webinar.

Moderated by Lloyd’s List editor Richard Meade, the virtual event will feature Mr Spithout and Mr Hånell, together with Stefan Recher, executive vice-president, digital and innovation at French offshore shipping services company Bourbon.

While most shipowners and managers focus digital attention on vessel performance and fuel monitoring, this year has opened up a host of opportunities for new technologies.

Inmarsat has been actively involved in encouraging start-ups, the most recent of which has been a partnership with Shell Shipping and Thetius, a consultancy, to find solutions that promote seafarers’ safety, health, and mental wellbeing. Mr Spithout will discuss the outcome of the ‘Open Innovation Challenge’ on the webinar.

Mr Hånell will explain how an openness to new ideas in his native Sweden — particularly in manufacturing, retail, and road and rail transport — has stimulated digitalisation in Scandinavia. “Shore-side transportation moves a lot faster in digital technology than shipping,” he says. How this expertise can be applied to maritime will also be unpacked on the webinar.

Among the survey’s findings is respondents’ expectation that digitalisation investment will ramp up over the coming two years in both the number of digital solutions per vessel and data volume generated. In many cases, shipping companies are looking to invest between $1m and $3m.

And what about hurdles to adopting digitalisation? Many survey respondents fear cyber attack, lack of return on investment, lack of data standardisation, and are worried about the attitude of management, shore-side teams, and seafarers on board. Each of these is a legitimate concern, and will be examined by our webinar speakers.

All attendees to the webinar will receive full access to the Digitalisation Uncovered publication, which includes interviews with ABB, Bureau Veritas, G2Ocean, Hempel, Nautilus Labs, Tomini Group, Vikand, and Waterfront Maritime Services.


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