C-suite leaders at Lomar Shipping and GasLog offer their insight into digitalisation’s effects on owners, performance and seafarer management
Digitalisation is generating greater transparency and more insight into fleet operations. However, it can be challenging for seafarers unless they receive technology-change training.
This was highlighted by Lomar Shipping technical director Stylianos Papageorgiou during London International Shipping Week (LISW) in September.
He said faster connectivity and better data visualisation on ships allows stakeholders to monitor ship and fleet operations, analyse performance and make decisions based on service instead of just price.
“Technology is changing shipping,” said Mr Papageorgiou. “If something happens everyone knows about it.”
Performance monitoring and display technology enables shipowners, operators and managers to analyse and then optimise their operations.
“Everything has a dashboard for seafarers, shore managers and stakeholders – providing information and transparency,” said Mr Papageorgiou. “Then quality will shine, and quality will mean survival.” He thinks shipmanagement quality should be considered over price “but costs still need to be reasonable”.
Smart data analysis and display makes highlighting company, fleet and vessel under-performance easier and identifying those exceeding expectations. “It will be difficult to hide,” Mr Papageorgiou said. “We can share information and databases, which means the data behind this is vital.”
Which is why he thinks owners and shipmanagers should work closer together to emphasise quality operations.
“Shipmanagers can complement owners to support communications and discussions with clients,” he said. “We can share what we know. For example, because of IMO 2020, container ship fuel cost hikes are expected.”
Improved data visualisation also means owners can identify onboard issues quickly and advise crew to rectify them before they become problems affecting ship uptime and performance. Developments in algorithms and machine learning will automate this process, Mr Papageorgiou suggests.
“A traffic light system will automatically send information to the chief engineer if the ship is underperforming,” he said.
Lomar is the ship owning and management arm of the Libra Group. It operates a fleet of more than 80 container ships, bulk carriers, and chemical and product tankers.
Monitoring systems have a positive impact on onboard operations, but their installation needs to be managed and crew need training, said former GasLog chief operating officer Richard Sadler. “Technology changes could improve things,” he said at an Inmarsat conference on crew well-being during LISW.
“Technology-change processes are about managing people on board,” he said. Managers need to ensure seafarers are comfortable interacting with the technology.
GasLog owns 13 gas carriers and operates 15 other gas tankers. It uses SQLearn’s e-learning Dolphin platform to provide onboard training to seafarers.
These are web-based interactive e-learning courses, based on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) topics that cover national, international and flag requirements. Seafarers access these STCW courses via Dolphin shipboard hardware.
GasLog competency assurance manager Archontia Leni said e-learning products also go beyond STCW requirements.
“We are able to provide our crew with specialised training, while at the same time managing all e-learning activities on board and ashore,” she said.
More of this type of interactive training and onshore support will be required if shipowners reduce manning on ships after introducing automation technology.
Mr Sadler thinks this will have a positive effect on crew well-being and expenditure savings could be partially passed on.
“If owners reduce crew levels down to say 12 on board, then there could be some things we could afford,” he said. “Such as crew rotation. For 12 seafarers sailing, crew-changes on a monthly basis may be possible.”