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Meet the digital Chief Engineer

Digitalization is happening now in the shipping ecosystem. Big words aside, what this means to shipowners is that information about equipment, processes, you name it... can be generated, stored and analyzed in larger quantities, with more precision, and from new vantage points.

Matt Heider, the ceo of Nautilus Labs, which specializes in ship performance optimization, described his company as taking the role of “a Chief Engineer who is wired into the power, propulsion and other onboard systems.”

Heider went on to explain to Seatrade Maritime News that, “With artificial intelligence, which is really what we are talking about, the Chief and others on the vessel (or even ashore) can gain insight into how environmental conditions impact vessel performance and use these models to optimize voyage planning.”

He added that simulations can be run on the spot to analyze bottom line and operational impacts from fine-tuning the engine parameters and adjusting navigational parameters, such as course and speed. As IMO 2020 approaches, Nautilus Platform provides perspective on emissions in real-time.

The message, though futuristic-sounding, is very much from the present. Well known shipping names, including Eagle Bulk, Dorian, TOTE and, most recently, Teekay LNG, have deployed the Nautilus Labs Platform on their vessels.

NautilusLabs Fleetview with Events

Heider, who has a background in technology, including a stint at IBM, joined Nautilus Labs in 2017. He describes himself as a “quick learner” and credits that with his ability to learn about the maritime industry, ship performance and both business drivers and pain points for shipping companies.

“From what I can gather from the operations folks and the higher ups that I’ve talked to, the new IMO rules on sulphur, and the actions on greenhouse gasses coming along in the next few years, are causing even the most traditional companies to think about what they are doing and re-design things from the keel up.”

Such revamping of equipment and processes, where actions aboard the ship have a greater impact than just slowing the vessel down,  bodes well for Nautilus Labs, explaining in a recent release regarding work with their clients that “they’ve helped us prove that we can reduce fuel consumption, and thus emissions, by over 10% in a single voyage, and savings of up to 30% with wider deployment.”

The investment community certainly agrees and has also come aboard in a big way. Nautilus has closed on $11m of financing, led by M12, the venture capital arm of Microsoft. According to Matt Heider, “we will continue to invest in developing deeper predictive decision support for shoreside teams and crews. We’re also planning to triple in size over the next year, investing in engineering, data science, and product development.”