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A STAR performer in the generation game

Star Information Services CEO Bjørn Martin Klokkernes recognises the importance of knowledge exchange at the leading asset management services provider to the shipping and energy sectors by recruiting the best young talent to add to the expertise across the company so it can continue at the forefront of meeting industry’s future needs.

Bjørn Martin Klokkernes is not a man to rest on his laurels buoyed by advances made by the experienced research and development team at the Norwegian-based enterprise asset management specialist STAR.

He is quick to highlight the risks inherent within technology companies that do not match the step change in digital innovation happening all around us with the need for a generational shift in skills – just as the experienced heads in the industry are approaching the twilight of their careers.

There is a pressing need to retain that deep wealth of industry knowledge acquired over decades by transferring and combining it with the new generation of digitally savvy young talent that holds the keys to future technological developments and operations.

Transition time

‘We are seeing a clear trend in how the future of asset management and organising maintenance will change, as the supply chain will be handled very differently from today,’ says Klokkernes.

‘What is important in a transitional stage is to make sure that the whole organisation is also following. It is so easy to focus only on the generational shift in technology. However, organisations need to ensure the entire company grows together with new technology. For us, we need to make sure our knowledge and know-how change at the same speed.

‘We need to make sure that people are aware of the new technology, what needs to be done when it comes to knowledge sharing, and what kind of new skills we need so the organisation grows together with the new technology,’ he adds.

Suite success

Star Information Systems AS was established 25 years ago in the Norwegian university city of Trondheim and with offices also now in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro it has grown globally as a provider of software systems that enable the tracking and management of assets across the maritime and energy sectors, such as equipment on vessels or rigs, machinery and property, as well as workforce scheduling.

These systems provide a range of benefits for operators, ranging from enhanced and predictive maintenance planning, optimised performance, increased efficiency, improved safety and sustainability reporting, as well as better cost control.

‘Over the last two years, we have worked hard on the technical side by developing an optimised system for the longer term with our new STAR Suite platform. But we have also focused on recruiting new people to follow these market trends,’ says Klokkernes.

‘When you look at the market today, particularly on the shipping side, it is mainly staffed by an older generation of people used to working in a certain way. But we are heading in a different direction, with the development of new technologies and digitalisation.

‘The generational shift in skills, including on the clients’ side, is starting to change the way the industry operates. Younger people are using more digital-based products, mobiles, apps, and different types of screen displays. We also need younger people in our organisation to develop, produce, install and maintain these systems.’

Forward looking

Klokkernes joined Star Information Systems two years ago, bringing with him a wealth of experience from working in consultancy on large oil and gas projects. He credits the founders and leadership at the company for having the foresight to see that change was necessary for it to grow in its ability to serve its customers’ increasing need for long-term digital solutions.

For Klokkernes, he sees his role as ensuring that the organisational change is of the same high quality as the technical parts. ‘That is my motivation, that is what I am striving for,’ he says.

This recruitment drive at the company has seen it grow from about 35 personnel to more than 60 and this has coincided with the development of its new STAR Suite platform that encompasses upgrades to all the enterprise asset management tools available before but with significant added breadth and muscle power.

‘The changes already under way across the industry mean we have to make corresponding advances in functionality in our applications, which is why we have carried out the technological leap we are implementing with the launch of our STAR Suite early in 2024,’ says Klokkernes.

STAR can install an entire ecosystem onto a vessel or rig in a matter of hours, with the flexibility to be customised to any operator’s requirements, allowing for decision support on any vessel or rig, or across a whole fleet as one, as it is both cloud-based and has full offline mobility.

‘When it comes to STAR Suite, the technical part, that’s a big thing for us. We must transition to meet the market’s requirements for the next 25 years and beyond. We need to develop and introduce even more sustainable and user-friendly systems that will improve efficiencies, reduce costs for clients and increase safety.

‘We have put a lot of focus on the research and development to get the STAR Suite platform up and running, which will be available for the market at the beginning of next year.’

Centre stage

STAR’s main office in Norway’s technology capital Trondheim allows for a close connection to Scandinavia’s largest independent research organisation SINTEF and the Norwegian University of Science & Technology. This position gives the company a front-row seat when it comes to new developments, and this includes Norway’s leading role in the march towards autonomous shipping.

‘When you look at the shipping industry for the next 10 to 15 years, everything will change when it comes to fuel and energy sources, and the use of autonomous vessels will inevitably become more common, posing the question – how are you supposed to handle maintenance on board a ship with no people on board?’ says Klokkernes.

‘How will you plan for that when the ship is coming to the harbour? Everything needs to be ready and in place regarding scheduling, suppliers, parts and equipment. That is something we are preparing for and providing with STAR Suite, to make the whole maintenance planning cycle much easier for the future,’ he adds.

Today, most of the maintenance and planning is done by the crew on board. However, Klokkernes points out that some of the equipment on board will get so complex the crew will not be able to manage it, even in person. ‘You will need third-party suppliers looking after maintenance, for example,’ he says.

Seamless transition

STAR has designed its platforms to allow for seamless and automated updates for operators, and under Klokkernes the company itself has been moving in that very same direction.

‘We have solid expertise gained over many, many years but our knowledge is not worth anything if it is not transferred to younger people,’ he says. ‘The person we recruit now is the person who will be part of STAR for the next 10 to 20 years and our own next generation.

‘It is hard for small companies to attract students as we are competing against the giants such as Apple and other big international players, but one way we can attract young people is to offer them the chance to be part of a company that will give them the opportunity to shape it.

‘There is a genuine opportunity to add something tangible to our growth, by being part of the whole reach, directly involved in the concept, R&D, the product, the client, the market, the whole A to Z,’ adds Klokkernes.

STAR is very clearly staking its claim as a key player in the generation game, with its focus on providing seamless updates to the technology and the skills required to benefit the industry far into the future.
Source: STAR Information Service

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