Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Shipping technology squeezed to the point of 'diminishing returns' Stopford

Shipping technology squeezed to the point of 'diminishing returns' Stopford
Clarkson Research president Martin Stopford has repeated his call for the industry to adopt “smart shipping” as existing technology has been squeezed to the point of diminishing returns.

Speaking at the Danish Maritime Technology Conference Stopford said the industry had done a marvelous job over the last 65 years improving efficiency, however, these gains were getting ever smaller.

Looking at ship designs and engines he explained: “You’ve squeezed the technology very, very hard and if you want to squeeze it some more you’ve got be very clever indeed. The problem from an economic point of view is you get diminishing returns – the harder you squeeze technology the more you have to spend and the less you get out.”

On the option of size and building of ever-larger containerships he said that, “If you looked very objectively at dis-economies of scale on the cargo handling at the terminal – you’re into diminishing returns again.”

At the same time that returns on innovating on efficiency are decreasing the environmental pressure is also growing.

“You want something you can get your teeth into, something substantial. The environmental pressures are increasing all the time, and I get the impression this year it has picked-up, it was always there in the background but its not really in the background anymore,” he warned.

Stopford’s solution is what he calls smart shipping with a much greater integration of ship operations with the internet and big data. This would transform shipping to be a management business, compared to today where said “we are a cost minimisation, gambling business”.

In the smart shipping concept assets would be used much more efficiently than today.

“We use assets better, we can automate and de-skill ship operations and navigation,” Stopford said.

“We can manage ship and shore staff into a single more productive team. We’ve got 1.7 people onshore, 20 people on the ship, the 20 people on the ship hate the people onshore and the 1.7 onshore think the guys on the ship are a load of idiots. Is that the way to run a business? Integrate the systems and get it to run better.”

This would be combined with the latest developments in satellite technology such as Inmarsat’s Global Xpress system. “The second thing is satellite communications. Inmarsat will now have three of these I5 satellites in place. We will have to wait to see if get 99.9% coverage… but I think it looks very promising,” he said.