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Live from Marintec China

Nick Brown of Lloyd's Register discusses digitalisation and decarbonisation

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Ahead of Marintec China Seatrade Maritime talks to Nick Brown, marine & offshore director for Lloyd’s Register, about the mega-trends of digitalisation and decarbonisation and how the classification society is positioning to help its customers with these challenges.

The Lloyd’s Register team will be at Marintec China 2019, which takes place in Shanghai from 3-6 December and celebrates its 40th anniversary, and Brown shares the company’s plans for the event which it has been an exhibitor at for over 30 years.

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

The shipping industry is being disrupted and transformed by two mega-trends –digitalisation and decarbonisation, and more broadly the global challenge of sustainability. This means that our client’s needs, and our response to those needs, must continually evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities these disruptions will bring.

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

Adapting to changes in our industry is nothing new for us – we’ve helped our customers evolve through three industrial revolutions already – and now we’re navigating the fourth. And we’ll do this by being a trusted partner, working together to keep our clients’ businesses safe, sustainable and competitive.

What opportunities are there in 2020 and ahead?

As previously mentioned, the two mega-trends – digitalisation and decarbonisation – will shape shipping in the years ahead. Developments around digitalisation and improved connectivity of systems onboard ships and between ship and shore offer some fantastic benefits to enhance safety at sea as well the environmental protection of assets. Technology also offers significant opportunities for reducing the environmental footprint of international shipping and also the safety and welfare of people onboard.

The next decade will require industry collaboration as shipping considers its decarbonisation options. Our recent joint study with A.P. Moller - Maersk found that the best-positioned fuels for research and development into achieving zero net emissions for shipping are alcohol, biomethane, and ammonia.

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

Many see 2020 as marking the start of the decade of decarbonisation as maritime stakeholders will continue to assess what is required to achieve the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) 2050 greenhouse gas ambitions and the opportunities and challenges presented by the shift to a low or zero-carbon future. The transition is a long-term one and it is accepted that a variety of operational and asset investment strategies will need to be considered. Complex choices lie ahead and navigating this change will involve industry collaboration as well as access to expert advice and insight. China is a leading trade nation and a top shipbuilding and shipowning centre and LR will look to work with its Chinese partners during this transition to support them with across the ship lifecycle from design, through construction to managing their day-to-day operational issues helping to provide technical insight on future vessel decisions.

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

2019 has been a challenging year for many maritime stakeholders given the entry into force of a 0.5% sulphur cap on marine fuels from January 1, 2020. Many owners are opting to use complaint fuels, and this has involved preparing their ships for the switch from HSFO to LSFO, working out how much investment is needed to prepare the ship’s fuel systems and tanks (this can involve cleaning tanks, which takes time, effort and money as the ship will need to be off-hire). Owners and operators have also had to consider the implications of the diversity of fuels that might come with this regulation. These technical hurdles have also impacted on crew training and safety.

Our Fuel Oil Bunker Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) team has already analysed well in excess of 1,000 samples of VLSFO and is currently seeing varying fuel quality across the globe. The FOBAS team has been extremely busy providing training and has delivered more than 100 training seminars to clients this year. They are also involved heavily in supporting the industry in procurement of VLSFOs and advising on the safe use of these fuels.

2019 has also been a year where decarbonisation has dominated maritime conversations and the need for zero emission ships to enter the world fleet by 2030 has been widely accepted – LR published worked with academic partners on zero emission transition pathways in January. The decarbonisation drive requires collaboration and has been supported by a number of industry initiatives such as the Getting to Zero Coalition and the Poseidon Principles, which sees leading names in ship finance apply climate change criteria to vessel funding.

Has the industry done enough to prepare?

Industry feedback suggests that most ship operators have prepared Ship Implementation Plans (SIPs) and have commenced the execution of these plans and training of staff. However, we have seen that that level of preparedness and detail can be varied across the industry. There is no doubt that undertaking this work gives the ship staff and technical team confidence that they have considered all the key parameters, but the challenges associated with the sulphur cap should not be underestimated as there will no doubt be issues along the way where effective responses will be necessary.

This is the 40th anniversary 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 China is a key event in the global maritime calendar and a showcase of innovation, technology and expertise. Lloyd’s Register is hugely proud of its association with China and 2019 is a particularly special year because we celebrate 150 years since we first located a surveyor to Shanghai. At that time, our surveyors in the country were inspecting assets that had been built in other parts of the world, today of course, that's very different. Our association with vessels built in China began shortly after China's open-door policy in the early 1980s, when the Regent Tampopo was delivered from Dalian Shipyard with LR Class in 1982, and we became the first international classification society to be involved in a modern new construction vessel in China. LR sees China as a country where it is mutually beneficial to share experience and support the sustainable and safe growth of the maritime industry.

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

LR has been exhibiting at Marintec China for over 30 years.

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 LR – either on the stand or from the conference programme?

During Marintec China 2019 we will be celebrating the milestone anniversary of 150 years of operation in China with a celebration taking place on our stand on day one of the event. Day two will be focused on China’s shipbuilding industry, particularly cruise and gas ships, two segments where LR is the market leader in the new construction market. China has significantly developed both its cruise, gas ship and wider sas fuelled capabilities over recent years with joint ventures and partnerships and several landmark projects already underway.

Additionally on day two we will have a digitalisation focus, where we will present an overview of our cyber security services, provided by Nettitude, who we acquired in 2018. The range of services offered includes: penetration testing, red teaming exercises, vulnerability assessments, managed security services, incident response services, PCI compliance assessments, cyber security and risk consulting. We will also showcase how we are offering shipping companies an intelligent and safe management and organisation solution ​that eases the fleet management significantly, in partnership with Hanseaticsoft and their Cloud Fleet Manager software solution.

Day three will be focused on innovation in safety and will include presentations from the LR Safety Accelerator and LR Safety Scanner. The LR Safety Accelerator is a challenge-based accelerator programme, creating, facilitating and guiding collaboration between innovative digital start-ups and industry. LR Safety Scanner is a software solution that combines applied data science and artificial intelligence to improve health, safety and environmental practices.

During the Senior Maritime Forum at Marintec China 2019, LR’s Global Passenger Ship Support Centre Manger, Joep Bollerman, will share his insights on the key role of project management in cruise construction projects – having the right people in situ and the right time and the importance of early agreement – as well as the importance of material selection from a safety and certification standpoint.

We are looking forward to this year’s event and learning more about how the industry is working to address the challenges around decarbonisation and developing credible designs for zero-emission vessels.