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Georgios Teriakidis*: Digitalization in Shipping, trends towards 2025

Today’s shipping industry is a complex sphere characterized by fierce competition, economic uncertainties, comprehensive regulations as well as a rapidly growing amount of technology solutions that could help players enhance their business.

We cannot change the environment in which ship managers operate. But we can help them to make the best out of the challenges ahead.
Looking ahead, Digitalization of information flows will spur automation of existing processes and functions and positively impact safety and environmental performance. Ships are becoming sophisticated sensor hubs and data generators, and advances in satellite communications are improving ship connectivity, allowing for a massive increase in the volumes of data transferred at ever-lower cost.
Most ships, systems, and components will be linked to the Internet, making them accessible from almost any location. At the same time, combining data streams from multiple sources will enable the industry to make informed decisions faster, leading to more efficient operations and responsive organizations. This will boost performance management (including fleet utilization, routing, trim, fuel consumption, emission management) and asset integrity management, building on remote condition monitoring as well as allowing for an increased level of automation.
New digital solutions will provide better control over the status of degradable systems, increase situational awareness and human reliability, and provide support in the definition of corrective actions and the reduction of operational risk. Improvements in maritime connectivity will also bring many benefits to the whole transport sector. For example, supply chains can be more efficiently organized around adaptable operations that leverage timely information on cargo, routes, and the operation and condition of assets. This will improve efficiency in many ways, including reducing lead times and fuel consumption by optimizing arrival times, while also allowing a better organization of operations and workforces on land for handling cargo and carrying out possible maintenance and/or inspection activities.
Onshore, new cloud technologies, such as big data platforms and digital twin technologies, will have a dramatic effect on how the industry manages information, and how vessels and their components are designed, built, and tested – all of which will see new digital business models emerging. Advanced software and simulation capabilities will result in more complex systems being controlled by software, while near real-time evaluation possibilities will be available, accompanied by suggestions for corrective actions by the crew and providing supply chain management decision support. Increased automation and availability of high-reliability, software-controlled, cyber-physical systems will allow for advances in automation and remotely controlled operations.
As such, the potential for smarter use of data in our industries is enormous. For DNV GL as a classification society, it is vital to always be exploring ways we can help our industry to leverage new technologies to improve the safety and productivity of their assets. Today that means being out in front of digitalization and the vast amount of data being produced and gathered on vessels by advanced sensor technology and interconnected systems.
Our recently launched industry data platform Veracity enables connections between multiple stakeholders and data sets, to create new and innovative solutions. Our customers can integrate, secure and quality assure their data, and then offer controlled access to DNV GL or other providers to run analytics on the data. Individual data sets can be enriched with other, industry wide data sets, providing benchmarks, new and deeper insights and analytics.
One area where the maritime industry can benefit from this platform is to allow industry players to document compliance of main onboard machinery and systems through predictive analytics, removing the need for calendar-based inspections. In one of our first pilot projects a drilling operator embarked on a project to explore predictive analytics with a components vendor and an analytics services company. Working with us to see if this approach could gain class approval, an analysis of the data revealed severe quality issues that none of the partners were previously aware of. Once the data was quality assured, machine learning algorithms could be applied to the data with success.
DNV GL is exploring new territory in data mining and we see many possibilities for combining and creating new data sets, such as predicting onboard equipment failures. With the My DNV GL portal customers have easy access to our digital services as well as exclusive information. Customers can order surveys and audits, have an overview of certificates and reports, download survey preparation notes, manage your ISM audits and receive automatic alerts and class status reports, all while having full control of users and vessel access.
We are also continually adding to the ways we use data and IT to deliver services to customers, including digital certificates to ease port processes; a smart survey booking system that uses predictive vessel tracking to give guidance on which are the most beneficial ports for minimal disturbance to operations; and an automatic positioning system which we are developing with the German Aeronautical Institute.
With this increasing connection ships and mobile offshore units are becoming increasingly reliant on software-dependent systems, which means that cyber security emerges as a key to controlling operational and safety risks. Maintaining the integrity and resilience of critical cyber-physical systems therefore requires a holistic approach to both safety and security. This is an area where we foresee increased demand over the next few years as the industry gains awareness of the vulnerabilities and related cyber threats to their business.
DNV GL is moving ahead into a digitalized future. Some of our innovations to come, include IRIS – a camera and tracking system for inspectors or surveyors working inside tanks which can be used to automatically link photos taken by the surveyor with a 3D model of the vessel – and COSSMOS – a tool, which can simulate and optimize complex and integrated ship machinery systems.
Creating data-smart shipping to leverage and capitalize on opportunities today and in the future, is a key part of DNV GL’s strategy – for us and for our customers. It’s not only about generating new big sets of data, but about using and managing already available data in a smart way.
* Regional Business Development Manager Regional Office South East Europe & Middle East DNV GL – Maritime

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