Clean-tech providers need to empower crew without adding complexity, writes Lean Marine CEO Mikael Laurin
We have now reached a point where all major stakeholders in the shipping industry are committed to meeting their responsibilities of reducing emissions. Many are looking beyond regulatory requirements to further enhance ship efficiency and bring about commercial advantages. It is encouraging to see innovation flourishing and widespread adoption of advanced technologies that help bring about the decarbonisation of our industry.
The role of the technology provider should not be underestimated. Clean-tech innovators are responsible for providing ship owners and operators with compatible solutions that can help operators adapt to the increasing influx of environmental regulations.
A ship is only as efficient as the people operating it and this puts the crew at the centre of efficient shipping operations. Our role as clean-tech innovators is to empower the crew on vessels equipped with new technology to achieve more efficient operations. The successful adaptation of new ways of working and of new technologies onboard is imperative for making the global fleet greener.
Having different set-ups for different vessels for technologies used on a daily basis (software or hardware) introduces complexities. Technology solutions should work both at fleet level and as support for the daily operations onboard a vessel. Choosing a technology solution that is scalable at fleet level, regardless of vessel type, size, propeller, engine model or energy source, as well as being suitable for vessels at different stage of their lifecycle, is always a better option in the long term.
“A ship is only as efficient as the people operating it”
Also, choosing technology that can adapt to vessel upgrades, such as installing an artificial intelligence solution for more efficient voyage planning or equipping the vessel for wind-assisted voyages, will also save future spending and changes in operations.
When it comes to enhancing vessel efficiency, optimising propulsion can reduce direct fuel consumption. Doing this manually is not feasible, both from an information and work-load perspective. An automated system is needed, and technologies should be straightforward and easy to use. Simpler is better. Bridge crews do not need any more items added to their daily to-do list.
During my time as CEO of Laurin Maritime, an owner and operator of medium-range IMO II/III chemical tankers, we spent a lot of effort on improving our environmental footprint. We had an early onset on high standards for operational efficiency and environmental sustainability.
When I came across a new propulsion-optimising technology, I first met the fuel-saving claims with scepticism. Considering the engine manufacturers or propulsion makers that are continuously improving their products, I assumed this technology solution should have already been created by others if it really worked as promised.
However, this was not the case and once we had adopted the technology across our fleet, we quickly saw how the systems transformed the way we operated our vessels and gave substantial fuel savings. The technology in question was FuelOpt.
Since introducing FuelOpt to the market in 2013, Lean Marine has transformed vessel propulsion control, with FuelOpt enabling direct fuel savings across hundreds of vessels in the global fleet via the automated and optimised control of vessel speed and fuel consumption. The technology hides the complexity of advanced algorithms, that are adaptive to varying conditions in real time, behind a simple user interface.
Once activated with the push of a button from an intuitive panel on the bridge, FuelOpt achieves real-time fuel savings and emissions reductions by dynamically controlling vessel propulsion based on a set commands, adapting the propulsive power to changing environmental conditions. In this way, steady and predictable shaft power can be achieved, removing costly variations in speed and power caused by human operational factors.