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ABB Ports & Marine - What lies ahead for the industry in 2020 and beyond

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Ahead of Marintec China we talk to Alf Kåre Ådnanes, General Manager of ABB Marine & Ports China, about what he sees as the top issues facing the industry in 2020 and beyond, and how ABB is positioning to help its customers with these challenges.

Visit Marintec China 2019

The ABB Marine team will be Marintec China 2019, which takes place in Shanghai from 3-6 December and celebrates its 40th anniversary, and Ådnanes shares the company's plans for the event which it has been an exhibitor at since 2003.

Heading into 2020, what are the major challenges for the shipping industry?

IMO will enforce its strictest regulations on marine fuel emissions to date from 1 January 2020, but also signalled even tougher targets for 2025 and 2050, with specific emphasis going forward on greenhouse gas emissions. These aims represent a massive challenge for the entire maritime industry; for a traditional industry like shipping, where progress is by no means rapid, the time available is short. But change is inevitable, if shipping is to align with wider societal aspirations. The time has come to embrace new technologies, many of which are already proven.

How will ABB help the industry to overcome/understand these challenges?

ABB has a long-term vision of providing electric, digital and connected solutions and services for the maritime industry. Technology wise, we are the frontrunner in helping our customers to achieve energy efficiency, low emissions or even zero emissions. With electric propulsion, whether using hybrid or even fully electric solutions, ABB is convinced that the whole industry can fulfil its commitments within the regulatory agenda.

What opportunities are there in 2020 and ahead?

Challenges always come with opportunities. ABB’s long devotion to R&D and leading edge technologies, such as situational awareness and other techniques that will feature in autonomous ships mean that we are prepared for the coming years.

The shipping industry is moving towards a target of carbon-neutral or zero emission propulsion and autonomous operations. Although these targets will likely take long time to have a great impact on the fleet, the stepwise development of this vision will create innovative technologies that already in the near future can significantly improve performance and environmental footprint.

What are ABB’s objectives for 2020 – for the domestic China region and rest of world?

ABB Marine is already widely acknowledged for its strong presence in the China market, for electric power, distribution and Azipod® propulsion technologies and, increasingly ABB Ability™ – its unified, cross-industry digital program – extending from device to edge to cloud.

We will continue to commit and cooperate with Chinese customers (designers, yards, owners) across our full range of products and latest developments in hardware and software. Our aim is to continue enhancing mutual trust – not just by working on projects domestically but, together with customers, by working across multiple vessel types to provide optimal solutions that win projects globally.

Looking back at 2019, how do you feel the industry evolved – especially with such significant 2020 deadlines in mind (Sulphur Cap etc)?

The industry has been slowly evolving in line with the new IMO requirements, such as the sulphur cap and ballast water treatment legislation. The time to install and set in service the needed equipment is now very short. Looking into the ambitious environmental targets from the IMO on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 and 2050, it is very clear that the industry must adapt in a proactive manner by, for instance, enabling today’s newbuildings to adapt to future requirements with less pain and costs.

Has the industry done enough to prepare?

As a group advocating solutions using electric propulsion to enhance energy efficiency in conventional set-ups, and to drive forward with alternatives including battery power and hydrogen fuel cell technology, ABB’s place is to enable rather than judge industry preparedness when it comes to lowering emissions.

In general, we can say some segments are evolving faster, or their starting point is more advanced – for example, cruise ships adopt technologies developed to meet environmental imperatives earlier for reasons of social responsibility but also because their guests demand it. Other segments face scenarios that are not so technologically advanced, but are no less challenging – for example, requiring an entire industry to change its fuel use creates challenges of supply and pricing, but also consistency in fuel quality.

There is always more to prepare.

This is the 40thanniversary of Marintec China.  As a loyal supporter of this iconic event, please share with us why this is such an important platform for business in this region?

Marintec is one the most professional and successfully organized maritime events in China and one of the major events in ABB’s maritime calendar. As Asia’s largest maritime exhibition, it attracts all important stakeholders throughout the sector, providing a platform to share ABB’s latest visions and technologies, and an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

Can you share with us how many of the Marintec China events you have participated with?

ABB Marine officially started its business in China in 2003, and we have not missed a Marintec since.

In December 2019, you will be with us again.  Can you tell us a little about your plans for this edition? What can we expect for see from ABB – either on the stand or from the conference programme?

In sharing its latest solutions and technologies, this year we will be focusing on the electric, digital and connected solutions ABB is offering for China, including but not limited to electric propulsion, ABB Abilityä Marine Pilot digital solutions and our ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operation services.