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Best foot forward: ambition and clear targets in digitalisation

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A panel of experts shared their views on the very first steps companies should take on their digitalisation journey.

Ahead of the debut Global Maritime Club Summit, Seatrade Maritime News spoke to panellists for their views on digitisation and what that means for the industry.

When it comes to digital technologies, panellists agreed that the first step is to work out what their goals are.

“The first thing owners and operators need to consider is what do they want to achieve on their digitalisation journey. Do they want to install an ERP system to better manage their fleets? Have improved noon reports? Achieve greater fuel efficiency? Digitalisation covers a broad area so every organisation needs to independently decide what operational efficiencies it wants to realise and then work with specialists that can help them achieve those goals,” said Jesse Brink, CEO of ioCurrents.

Lloyd’s Register Director for Maritime Performance Services, Andrew McKeran, agreed.

“The first important decision for owners and operators on the digitalisation journey is establishing exactly what they want to achieve from adopting digital systems and workflows. Where are they facing challenges? What is their end goal? Once there is an ambition, we can advise them on the best way to drive performance across all their operations. There’s no point in digitalisation for its own sake; it has to be rooted in a desire for improvement,” said McKeran.

McKeran also called for owners and operators to be ambitious. “Think big! Digitalisation may begin in one operational area, with one target outcome, but can set the ball rolling across fleet management, fleet optimisation, core business operations, risk management, emergency response and seafarer safety and training.”

Mike Konstantinidis, Co-Founder & CEO, METIS Cyberspace Technology focussed on the data itself as the first choice for owners to make. “A proper, reliable data acquisition system getting round the clock 24/7 continuous data measurements from all available sources on board, providing a rich, high-resolution picture of ship performance, is absolutely essential. 

“In the age of a Data driven economy, the only efficient way for the skilled teams onshore to perform their strategic or trivial daily activities, is to be fed with actual, real-time, synchronized, and reliable information coming from the vessels. The criticality of such, is even bigger for yet another reason: No two vessels are exactly alike, even if they are identical sister vessels.”

For newer vessels and those currently under construction, more and more data is available to inform operational decisions, said Brink.

“Most of the new builds today are equipped with sensors that monitor all the essential equipment required to operate a vessel. ioCurrents can harness this data and do the analysis to enable vessel operators make better decisions based on live data. The more data a vessel has then the better from ioCurrents point of view as we can make more robust machine learning models that can give vessel operators more accurate information and predictions to allow them to plan based on fact rather than gut instinct. Using automated systems like this reduces human error and so leads to greater accuracy.”

Konstantinidis agreed that machine learning and AI should be fed lots of data to make the best suggestions.

“Clearly, the performance of ship systems is interdependent, as well as being subject to external conditions. It is in this context that the true impact of Artificial Intelligence will be felt in shipping. AI can use existing IT to combine vessel-specific, non-generic information on Voyage Management, F.O. Consumption, Route Optimization, Hull & Propeller Fouling, Charter Party Agreement terms and Weather predictions to enhance operational decision-making,” said Konstantinidis.


The Global Maritime Club Summit – in association with Seatrade Maritime – will be held on Thursday, 9th June in the Posidonia Conference Hall as part of the Posidonia International Shipping Exhibition Conferences & Seminars programme.

The one-day Summit and is free to attend on a first-come, first-registered basis.