Shipmanagers and consultants have called on maritime equipment vendors to provide integrated digital technology solutions. They want internet of things (IoT) technology that combines multiple elements in maritime to deliver one complete solution for smarter ship and fleet management.
Wallem Group chief executive Frank Coles said vendors were failing to deliver solutions to solve the problems that shipmanagers and shipowners encounter. “Technology solutions are being wasted in the maritime industry because vendors and manufacturers do not solve the right problems, do not ask the right questions and do not know the right things to produce,” he said in a LinkedIn post.
“Instead, we see an endless delivery of fragmented applications that only address a part of the solution, IoT bits and pieces instead of enterprise solutions,” Mr Coles continued.
He explained that shipowners and operators usually end up with multiple products and applications because of the amount of widgets and proprietary systems available.
“Owners are told: go unmanned, or automated, or green and don’t worry, it will save you money,” said Mr Coles. Vendors are then not able to show ship operators how to achieve expenditure reductions or to share the adoption costs.
“Vendors do not know how to present the proof, or are not prepared to have skin in the automation game,” said Mr Coles. He then continued to explain that consumers should be requested to pay more for goods that are carried at sea to enable shipowners to invest in improving ship efficiency and reducing their environmental footprint.
“Everyone is saying 90% of the world's goods are carried at sea, make [shipowners] pay. I say that 90% of the worlds goods are carried at sea, pay a fair rate for them. Then maybe the ship can be green, efficient and smart.”
In response, OceanManager board member Rajan Vasudevan said he agreed that vendors need to provide solutions that “mine value from data to empower decisions”. He called on vendors to consider creating value through their own investment.
“How about vendors sharing risk versus getting paid whether the problems get solved or not,” he suggested.
“Vendors are part of the maritime ecosystem and typically operate as an extension of the industry culture,” Mr Vasudevan said.
“Data is the new oil and technology vendors who can bet their solutions (not just applications) on outcomes would be winners.”
Asia Pacific vice president for strategy in business, digital transformation, optimisation and artificial intelligence Kris Kosmala said vendors need to provide solutions to tackle real shipowner digitalisation needs.
“There are too many external vendors wandering on the edges, pushing point solutions to some small problems,” he said. “Vendors are adding to the spaghetti of solutions already implemented and sometimes abandoned by users, but kept on the books.”
Mr Kosmala spent six years as Quintiq general manager for Asia Pacific up to 2018. He told Maritime Digitalisation & Communications that the maritime industry should consider connecting digital twin and IoT technology “to truly transform marine operations”.
However, he thinks adoption of these combined technologies “will be delayed well past 2019” because too many ship operators, managers and owners continue to consider themselves as IoT starters and laggards.
Strategy & Implementation consultant and entrepreneurial executive manager Rhynhardt Berrange replied to Mr Coles’ post by highlighting how shipmanagers and owners continue to use vendors that they trust, compared to any new integrated solutions introduced by vendors that they do not.
“I have, in 10 years, seen owners being ripped off by vendors and poor service providers yet when you offer solutions, owners decide to stay with current services as they do not like where you are from or just do not care to listen,” he said.
“It is sad, but the mindset of owners is mostly reactive as opposed to responsive,” said Mr Berrange. “Reacting is instinctive reaction and responding is a well thought out plan with proper implementation and training.”
Mr Berrange continued “Owners then get used to the poor, sub-standard and mostly overpriced services received, even though the service is ineffective and short term.
“When the well thought out proper response actually offered a long-term solution and would have been more cost effective had it been opted for from the start.”
Mr Coles joined Wallem Group from digital solutions and training simulator and bridge systems provider Transas in 2018.