Digitalisation technology enables shipping companies to reduce operating costs and sail safer, but wariness of data sharing and perceived costs remain barriers
Internet of things (IoT) is ready for full fleet implementation, but many shipowners and charterers are not. There are multiple barriers currently preventing owners and managers from investing in IoT despite the proven financial, efficiency and safety benefits.
These were the benefits industry leaders described to editor Martyn Wingrove as he moderated a webinar on the subject of shipping and IoT. During this event Inmarsat head of communications Mark Warner explained how some early adopters of IoT have already seen these benefits. “There is polarisation between the leaders and laggards in IoT implementation,” he said.
However, more shipping companies will follow these early adopters if chief executives can be persuaded of the benefits. “Change is leadership-driven,” said Mr Warner. “It has to be pushed from the board down.”
Early IoT adopters are using networks of sensors to collate information on ship systems. They then use satellite communications, including Inmarsat’s fifth-generation constellation, to transfer data in significant volumes from ship to shore, so these bytes can be analysed for operational trends.
ClassNK lead business strategist Vikrant Sharma predicts falling communications costs and higher satellite capacity will drive construction of IoT-connected ships. “This is also likely to lead to more remote operations.”
He expects implementation of IoT will be assisted by developing “open platforms to access data from ships safely, easily and efficiently”. Collaborative working on such an open platform will “foster innovation and create new value” he said.
IoT team effort
Napa president Ilmo Kuutti thinks collaboration across the whole shipping industry will be vital to further technology adoption. “IoT will be a team effort between the captain, owner, charterer and weather information provider, who will together create the best possible operations,” he said.
However, Mr Kuutti told Marine Electronics & Communications that charterparty agreements are the biggest challenge to IoT adoption. “They are based on the traditional way of shipping and make barriers to IoT. They prevent ship operators, owners and charterers from taking the benefits,” he said.
One of the earlier IoT technology innovations was virtual arrival, which enables a ship operator to plan a vessel’s voyage to arrive at a port at the optimum time for its cargo requirements, thus reducing fuel consumption. But Mr Kuutti said virtual arrival “has not been taken up yet” by operators. “It is still very common for ships to travel faster than they need during the early stages of their voyages, then wait for considerable time at anchor.”
Wariness towards data-sharing and transparency are also barriers, he added. However, Mr Kuutti thinks regulations such as the EU’s monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) will “drive a lot of technology uptake that will deliver valuable statistical data”.
“Within five years, IoT will be used by most ships to benefit the stakeholders”
He also believes the majority of shipping companies will adopt IoT and digitalisation technologies. “Within five years, IoT will be used by most ships to benefit the stakeholders,” he told MEC. These benefits will include “optimising performance, speed profile optimisation and routeing”.
Mr Kuutti went on to highlight the fuel efficiency benefits. “Greater than 5% improvements can be easily gained just through better voyage planning and execution.”
Danelec Marine chief executive Hans Ottosen highlighted the safety benefits of IoT. “Each time you have an accident, there are usually 20 near misses,” he explained. “Currently we are not learning from the near misses, but only when there is a serious incident. If there had been good IoT monitoring this accident could have been avoided.”
This Marine Electronics & Communications moderated webinar can be viewed online using this link http://bit.ly/MEC_IoT_Webinar