SMART4SEA Conference: Focus on barriers & drivers to digital transformation in shipping


The 2018 SMART4SEA Conference successfully concluded on Wednesday 31st of January, at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) at the Bookcastle of the National Library of Greece, attracting 500 delegates from 20 countries representing a total of 240 organizations.

The event brought together experts who discussed issues concerning Energy Efficiency, Big Data, Cyber Security as well as E-Navigation, Internet Onboard and Smart Shipping Financing. Inspiring presentations and panel discussions highlighted the importance of embracing change and focusing on smart shipping developments towards a more sustainable future. Experts shared their views on the impact of autonomous shipping on human element, cyber risk security and the emerging trends regarding the training of existing and future generations, all of which are challenging topics for the industry. In addition, latest technological developments that prove steps towards further digitalization were discussed. Presentations were given in six panels as follows:

Panel No. 1 – Conference Opening

Apostolos Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA, presented an overview of the developments over the last 12 months in the areas of Big Data, Connectivity Onboard, 3D printing, Drones, Blockchain tech, Cryptocurrency, Virtual Reality, Cyber Security and Autonomous Shipping. He finally briefly outlined the current and future drivers and barriers to change with respect to adoption of smart shipping, stressing the fact that regulators are way behind technological developments and the need to apply lessons learned from other industries. He expressed his reservations towards the immediate adoption of autonomous shipping concept and concluded that we should expect more change over the course of the next 10-20 years than what we have seen over the last 100 years.

Frank Coles, Transas, CEO, described the maritime constituency as ‘Citizens Against Virtually Everything’ (CAVE) when it came to connectivity advances. He castigated shipping for an intransigence he attributed to its ‘ASS’ (Archaic Spaghetti Structure) and summed up its operational dynamism in the acronym FOSSIL (Fleet Operations Services Stuck in Limbo). Mr. Coles believes more change will be achieved in the next 10 years than has been possible in the preceding 40, as “the cultural roadblocks and attitude dinosaurs” are removed. “We need well-trained maritime professionals working in a modern environment. Fortunately, as time has passed, the combination of a new generation and technology will remove those who refuse to see, cannot see or don’t care enough to see. Change is coming from within but also from outside. We must keep talking about it, so we can see the sea,” said Mr. Coles.

Giampiero Soncini, Senior Advisor, Marine Innovation, RINA, noted that digital revolution to industry is normal considering the use and impact that technology has already had on our lives. Google maps, smart phones, emails, internet, Amazon, the way we fly and in the future, the way we will drive cars are some of the examples that showcase further developments are expected to come into shipping in the future. The digitalization process is happening in the industry and new sets of risks, treats and opportunities have emerged, introducing new challenges. Nowadays, data has value and when processed, interpreted and managed efficiently, it will allow operators to manage their fleet efficiently. At the same time, they need to be aware of cybercrime, which is the easiest form of crime in the planet and does not concern only very large companies. Mr. Soncini concluded that going digital is the only way to save money and be competitive, in condition that ship management is working in a very organized way, where data is being collected to allow manage your fleet in a very efficient way.

Panel No. 2 – Smart Shipping Perspectives

Jason Stefanatos, Senior Research Engineer, DNV GL, noted that the maritime industry is moving rapidly towards digitalization and the increased capacity for transfer of data from ship to shore has enabled remote monitoring of ship functions and operations. Mr. Stefanatos referred to industry’s examples that prove steps towards remotely operated and autonomous vessels highlighting that there is need for a parallel process in adapting regulations for unmanned operations. Changes to regulations need to be approved by a multitude of stakeholders and actors within the IMO organisation and it usually requires many years only to make minor adjustments to these regulations, he commented.

Marcus Ejdersten, Director, Strategic Marketing , MacGregor, focused on the need for new solutions that increase the cargo system performance for both new and sailing vessels, increasing their actual cargo intake and lowering emissions further per tonne mile. In the race for larger and lower initial cost vessels the industry lost focus on details that set the limit for the cargo system performance and vessels lifetime earnings capability. Mr. Ejdersten noted that such solutions are already being used today and can be deployed for thousands of more vessels in the future.

Panel No. 3 – Big Data

In his presentation, Daniel Shirley, Product Marketing Manager, MarineTraffic, questioned, in an age of data abundance, how do you decide what information to bring into your organisation. He emphasised the importance of always asking “is this information useful?” when assessing any new data source or technology. Mr. Shirley then went on to demonstrate how the aggregation and analysis of large datasets can help to understand the wider maritime ecosystem and, in turn, generate actionable intelligence.

Ji Hun Seo, Sales Manager , ILJIN and Co, talked about the demand for marine satellite communication. Considering that e-navigation, smart ship, unmanned ship, autonomous ship are the current market trends, there is need for transmitting big volume of data. In his presentation, he mentioned how to overcome the problem of limited bandwidth in order to become able to transmit big data from ship to shore.

Mikael Lind, Associate professor and research manager, RISE Viktoria, acknowledged that the maritime sector is showing great interest in achieving enhanced safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability. Taking the scope of berth-to-berth sea transports, the Sea Traffic Management (STM) concept with its sub concepts have been brought forward for integrated performance between sea and port operations. The purpose is to reflect the needs of the industry for bringing sea transports as an integral part of a sustainable transport system, he explained. Empowered by digitalization this brings new business opportunities both for existing actors and new actors. In his presentation, Mr. Lind focused on the Port Collaborative Decision Making (PortCDM) as one of the STM concepts and emerging business opportunities.

Panel No. 4 – Energy Efficiency

Nikolaos Kakalis, Technology & Projects Manager, Consolidated Marine Management Inc, gave an overview of the issue of energy efficiency from the shipowner’s perspective. Energy efficiency, he mentioned, is of significant importance for the competitiveness of shipping companies. A key enabler for energy-efficient operations is thorough performance monitoring of the existing fleet which provides deeper understanding of hull, machinery and systems condition leading to better control of fuel consumption, improved vessels management and costs optimisation. Such insights also provide input to the new designs leading to better and more attractive ships. Technological developments in sensors, data acquisition systems and analytics, as well as advanced computer-based decision support tools are a core element of the picture. The industry needs to continuously seek for the development of new solutions and technologies that are moving higher the state-of-the-art while being reliable and techno-economically feasible, Mr. Kakalis concluded.

In his presentation, Anthony Vourdachas, Engineer OEP, ABS, mentioned that international regulations and operational costs are key drivers in today’s shipping industry in terms of vessel performance. Increasing regulatory compliance requirements add complexity to an already challenged market, while the volume of the data to satisfy such regulatory reporting is increasing. In parallel, the proliferation of low cost sensor technology and the interlinking of systems onboard a vessel have further increased the volume of data being collected and needing to be analyzed. Effective data handling is of prime importance, as it can have an immediate effect on the performance analysis and the results, he concluded.

Dr. Panos Theodossopoulos, CEO Propulsion Analytics, talked about the application of machine learning techniques for energy efficiency, fault diagnostics and predictive maintenance in vessel/engine performance monitoring. Machine learning, already widely spread in numerous areas of digital life, the financial sector and science, is also finding its way into industrial and shipping applications. Dr. Theodossopoulos emphasized that machine learning should always go hand in hand with core engineering principles and human expertise in order to bring out optimum value and he also presented two areas in which Propulsion Analytics has applied machine learning, namely vessel Main Engine fault diagnostics and predictive maintenance.

Panel No. 5 – Energy Efficiency

Cynthia Hudson, CEO, Hudson Analytix, acknowledged that maritime industry is a target to cyber risk for many reasons and as a result, action is needed from top management. Managing Directors, CEOs and Board Members are increasingly being held accountable for their organization’s cybersecurity. Cyber risk management must be owned by leadership rather than be delegated to the IT Director, Mrs. Hudson highlighted. Cyber risk can affect an organization’s balance sheet, legal exposure, operational; effectiveness, reputation, vendors, partners, employees. Therefore, there is need for a plan which should use outputs from the baseline assessment to inform cyber risk management planning, investments earmarks and resource allocations.

Speaking in the afternoon cyber security session, Christian Vakarelis, VP Media Communications, Navarino, described how, as the industry’s leading maritime technology company, Navarino witnesses first hand the way cyber criminals become smarter almost every month. In his presentation, he described how Navarino helps its customers stay one step ahead of the cyber threat through a combination of guidance at the human, management and network levels. He emphasised the importance of training crews, the power the maritime industry can hold by working as a community to combat cybercrime , and showed how Angel, the first cyber solution designed for the maritime sector, can keep vessels protected from cyber-attack.

Concluding the last session of the event, Mr. Howard Hughes, CTO Tototheo, referred to the important role that the human element plays to cyber security analysis. With the recent interest in Cyber Security for the Maritime industry, much focus has been put on solutions that will offer protection. However, there is still the human element to consider. ‘You’re only as strong as your weakest link’ Mr. Hughes said, adding that human action by design or by accident can still cause a breach to some of the strongest systems.

All sessions ended with a round table discussion in which the audience exchanged ideas with high level experts of international repute on technological developments. Finally, Apostolos Belokas as the Forum Chairman thanked the delegates for their participation, the sponsors for their support and the speakers for their excellent presentations and also the organizing team of the event for their contribution towards forum objectives.



Comments are closed.