Coronavirus has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation within maritime by at least five years
The Covid-19 crisis has forced shipping companies to implement remote working and digital technologies for business continuation and fleet optimisation. This has resulted in the sector entering a renaissance period for innovation, according to DNV GL chief executive for maritime Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, he says “digitalisation [has been[ turbocharged, accelerating cross-industry collaboration and innovation”.
This has occurred across the whole of maritime, including regulators, port authorities, shipowners, onboard operations, classification societies and machinery suppliers, he said.
“The pandemic has accelerated digital developments by half a decade,” said Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen. “New technology has spurred developments in digitalisation,” he added, emphasising the opportunities in the “maritime renaissance.”
For example, suppliers of unmanned aerial vehicles and remote-control services have found new markets in ship inspections.
"The pandemic has accelerated digital developments by half a decade"
“There are great opportunities with drones for inspection, taking video footage and thickness measurements,” said Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen.
Further, shipping companies and original equipment manufacturers are using artificial intelligence for predictive maintenance, intelligent scheduling, real-time analytics and improving performance.
“The mentality has changed and [maritime] is open to digital ways of working and interaction,” said Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen.
Digitalisation has also opened new services and connectivity for class. For example, DNV GL now issues an e-certificate every four minutes and 80% of its customers have indicated they would use a digital tool for smart survey bookings.
DNV GL has completed 17,400 remote surveys since 2018 and is conducting 300 remote surveys per week since coronavirus-restricted travel was implemented. These remote inspections are supported by DNV GL’s Maritime Operational Centre in Høvik, Norway.
This reduces the amount of time class surveyors interact with crew on ships during physical inspections, mitigating the risk of further Covid-19 infections.
Mr Ørbeck-Nilssen expects “an equilibrium between remote and physical surveys” to occur once travel restrictions are lifted.
This is because “a good surveyor will get a quick impression on board of the condition of the ship and crew’s knowledge of what they are doing,” he said.
But there will be demand for remote surveys, with quicker turnarounds and more efficiency.
DNV GL has also seen more uptake of its digital services since the global Covid-19 crisis started. It has 200,000 users of its online platform, Veracity, and 4,500 users of its Alternative Fuel Insight platform, developed to assist shipping monitor the global uptake of alternative fuels and assess the best options for their own vessels.