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Digitalization is Fast Approaching: Here is Why You Should Pay Attention

Digitalization in shipping isn’t just a gimmick. It’s real, it’s here and is constantly evolving, helping ship owners cut costs, or improve efficiency among others. In an exclusive interview with Hellenic Shipping News (www.hellenicshippingnews.com), Mr. George Teriakidis, DNV GL’s Regional Business Development Manager outlines the various advantages and where digitalization can be applied. According to Mr. Teriakidis, “Greek shipping companies are taking the first shy steps. We believe that Greek owners are ready to embrace latest technological innovations, where there is a solid business case”.

Digitalization is about to be a defining force towards improving fleet effectiveness. How is this trend taking a hold of the way shipping operates?

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. In light of these challenges, companies are increasingly building their strategies around digitalization opportunities. They are encouraging operation, fleet management and commercial departments to innovate and explore opportunities for driving cost efficiencies and new revenue streams through digitalization. In other words, shipping companies with the help of technology (i.e. better connectivity, more sensors, better analysis of big data) are trying to define opportunities for doing what they do today more efficiently and/or develop new revenue streams/services.

Can you give us some examples of processes or operations that are changing as we speak?

It starts with taking the data that owners and operators are already collecting from their vessels. In other words, try to use the data that is already collected ; there are already vast amounts of data that can be used to boost fleet performance and efficiency: the noon report, event reports, AIS and weather data, cargo and commercial data, information from competitors – all of this can be combined with sensor data to give a very detailed picture of vessel and fleet performance. This is a good example of using technology, by improving what we already do i.e. doing it more efficiently.
Another example is the introduction of unmanned vessels. For the time being we have small vessels or coastal vessels. A big milestone will come in 2020 when the first electric, autonomous vessel will hit the water – this vessel is “Yara Birkeland”. This is a good example of using technology, to create new services/revenue streams.

George Teriakidis, DNV GL’s Regional Business Development Manager

In the future, what sort of applications will be digitalized?

The short answer is everything! Or more accurately that anything that can be digitalized will be digitalized. 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.
One area where the maritime industry can benefit 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 on our Veracity platform (see below) 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.

Which is DNV GL’s proposal in this domain and which are its competitive advantages?

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. We are 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.
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. One of the most important projects for us now and in the next several years is our new industry data platform Veracity. It will bring industries together in digital eco-systems, enhancing the exchange of data, creating new insights and building new services. For DNV GL’s Maritime business unit, Veracity is a tool that will play a key role in class services, especially in terms of quality assurance. Veracity will help us to deliver modern class services, first focusing on the operational phase of a ship. The key aspects of the platform are data quality assessment as well as access and security control, and it may give us the possibility of playing an extended third party role in the quality assurance of digital value chains.
On our Veracity platform 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.
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.

From your experience thus far, do you think that Greek owners are ready to embrace the latest technological innovations, or are they perhaps more skeptical to them and cost-conscious?

Greek shipowners usually approach new such initiatives with caution; as far as I am concerned, this is a result of their experience in shipping. Knowing that shipping is very competitive as well as that the profit margins are very tight, they will scrutinize every new initiative that comes their way. If it will create for them a competitive advantage and have a reasonable return on investment, they will go ahead. Of course there are exceptions, but I feel that the majority will have these things in their mind.
In connection to digital transformation we see Greek companies taking the first shy steps. We believe that they have realized that there are benefits to be gained and hence they are trying to approach the digitalization topic in a systematic way. It is no surprise therefore that Greek companies have been very active on the cyber security front – looking from the DNV GL point of view, Greek companies have been pioneers in projects on assessment the security of their systems.
In order to reply this question directly, we believe that Greek owners are ready to embrace latest technological innovations, where there is a solid business case.

With more things getting done in a digital way, cyber security also comes into play? What should a ship owner do to protect his company and how can DNV GL assist him in this way?

Maintaining the integrity and resilience of critical cyber-physical systems requires a holistic approach to both safety and security. In terms of regulations, since January 2018, the first regulation has been introduced which is called the Tanker Management Self-Assessment (TMSA). There is also an initiative begun by IACS. The intention is to create a guideline made for the shipping industry, to get all the class societies and have a common way of approaching cybersecurity. DNV GL has adapted and expanded its cybersecurity services to assist owners and operators in protecting their assets against evolving threats and ensuring their safeguards satisfy new industry rules and regulations.
For an owner who is concerned about cyber security, the core approach is to identify weaknesses, assess their severity, then prioritize the most serious ones. For this they can use a resource like the DNV GL recommended practice, which is a free resource. The next step for vessel operators would be to carry out a cybersecurity assessment. DNV GL can support this by sending interdisciplinary teams to help onshore and offshore personnel identify and address specific business risks.
At DNV GL, we have also addressed cybersecurity with several services from virus services to utilizing recommended practice. In summer 2018, we released the first class notations especially made for ships. DNV GL has also developed a wide range of services in close collaboration with several major ship owners aimed at enhancing the cyber security of their assets. Through its Maritime Academy, DNV GL offers both classroom training and e-learning modules aimed at developing customised working cyber risk management methodologies and increasing the awareness for cyber security related issues among crews and shore staff.
DNV GL also helps customers measure the awareness level of crews and shore staff via penetration testing, which is offered not only on the technical level (penetration testing of business networks, computers and onboard machines) but also at the human level. Using social engineering techniques DNV GL can design friendly phishing campaigns, helping customers understand the awareness levels within their company and fine-tune the level and frequency of cyber awareness training.
In addition, DNV GL recently worked with the P&I Club Gard to build awareness and competence among crews and others. It focuses on daily tasks and routines, and aims to de-mystify the cyber security issue as well as providing concrete recommendations on how to prevent cyber incidents.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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