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Q&A: Pål Nikolaysen of ABB Marine & Ports Service on new technology and its effect on the maritime industry

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Pål Nikolaysen, Vice President, Head of ABB Marine & Ports Service Asia, Middle East & Africa, discusses the latest disruptive technology and its effect on the maritime sector.

As the maritime industry continues to rapidly evolve, which upcoming digital solutions will benefit our industry the most? As part of Saudi Maritime Congress 2020, leading industry executives look at what this will mean for shipping and the benefits it will bring.

In this Q&A Pål Nikolaysen, Vice President, Head of ABB Marine & Ports Service Asia, Middle East & Africa, discusses the latest disruptive technology and its effect on the maritime sector.

Seatrade Maritime; Why do you view ‘'Latest Disruptive Technology in the Maritime Sector'’ as an important conversation point for the industry?

Pål Nikolaysen:The maritime industry is in the midst of arguably the most powerful combination of change enablers it has seen for decades. As shipping continues to navigate the regulatory landscape and explore new energy sources, electric, digital and connected solutions are helping create a better future, bringing new levels of reliability, efficiency and sustainability to the industry.

SM: Which technologies do you think will have the most impact on the industry over the next decade?

PN: With significant growth projected for seaborne trade over the next decade, there will be an increased focus on decarbonization, as well as digitalization to enable more sustainable, efficient and safer operations.

To meet IMO’s goals for reducing shipping’s CO2 emissions, the industry will need to further explore alternative fuel sources – some of which may not even exist yet. This means that the vessels built today will need to be future-proofed for the years to come.

Already today, we see that the majority of alternative propulsion system arrangements are centered around an electrical propulsion concept – the backbone for ship electrification. Such systems are also future-proofed for the new power sources that are currently under development, as they can integrate a wide variety of power sources, be it batteries, fuel cells or others.

SM: What new technologies would you be most excited to see in the near future?

PN: Already today, we are able to increase the level of automation in ship navigation, steering and control – thanks to the recent developments in data analytics, sensor technology, as well as computing power. In the coming decades, autonomous solutions are expected to transform international shipping. It would certainly be exciting to see how these technologies develop in the near future.

SM: How do you think the latest technological instruments, such as satellite communications, marine propulsion, and smart port technology can benefit the industry?

PN: We are witnessing a rapid evolution of the maritime industry, with latest developments and innovations in the technologies that will help keep the industry sailing on a safer, more sustainable and profitable course in the years to come.

As the shipping industry is increasingly facing challenges such as environmental regulation, there is increasing need for efficient vessel management. It is key that crews have immediate access to comprehensive decision support solutions that give them the right tools to monitor and optimize vessel efficiency, as well as optimize route planning, comply with environmental regulations and improve the safety of both crew and cargo.

When it comes to marine propulsion, ABB’s Azipod® electric propulsion will be celebrating three decades of powering over 25 vessel types with high energy efficiency. Azipod® propulsion, with its proven ability to cut fuel consumption by 20 percent compared to traditional shaftline propulsion, has become an industry standard in the cruise and ice-going vessels. Azipod® propulsion has achieved over 900,000 tons of fuel savings in the passenger cruise segment alone.

As for enabling sustainable port stays, shore connection technology will have an increasingly important role to play.

SM: Why do you think it’s important to participate in events like Saudi Maritime Congress? 

PN: It is important for us to meet our customers where they are. We also see it as key to be able to engage in discussions with industry stakeholders and together look at the future of shipping.