Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Green Ship Technology and Shipping 2030 in Copenhagen. We were honored at GST by being shortlisted for Green Ship Technology of the Year Award. It was also a great opportunity to meet with ship owners, leading technologists, and strategic influencers to get a sense for the key trends and issues that are top of mind for the shipping industry.
I thought I would share some of the insights I gathered:
- The drive towards sustainability is now a central, strategic issue. Regulations are clearly a factor but with attractive incentives, technology creating new efficiencies, and pathways to lower costs and risks, ship owners are dedicating resources to this area. The things happening now are only the beginning. Local emissions control efforts will move towards decarbonization and broader environmental protection efforts. A key theme I heard was about making decisions today that are ready for that future.
- The big compliance issues are consuming operators in the short run. Ballast water and emissions thresholds are the more urgent topics and much work must go into understanding and complying with these regulations. At the same time, there are many exciting, lower-investment initiatives that are driving long-term value. Bulbous bows, advanced hull coatings, power optimization systems, and next generation lubricants like FUTERRATM are stacking up to create significant value and operational efficiency. Technology like air bubbles under hulls and wind power are a lot more exciting to work on than pure compliance issues like ballast water management systems, which must be dealt with now.
- Players want an even playing field. Regulations can be inconsistent across the globe. Scorecards and measurements use different methodologies. Ship owners, especially leaders, support regulations and incentives that help the industry move to a better place, but they want the rules to be clear and consistent so the leaders aren’t left at a competitive disadvantage.
- Digitization is coming. The industry is working to understand how digitization will impact the system and the current supply chain. My sense is that digitization will be disruptive for many existing marine companies and that the players that embrace the potential and get comfortable with sharing data will find ways to win. A blue water shipping vessel – which used to be “off-line” away from the port – can now share data in real time to partners and support teams thousands of miles away. The industry is just starting to wrestle with the implications.
- Things are improving, but not evenly. Some segments are seeing a recovery in rates and performance in 2017 while other areas will take longer. Leaders that have positioned themselves to protect asset value for the long term, managed their balance sheets well, and made investments to increase fleet flexibility or extend maintenance intervals are faring better and are positioned to take advantage of opportunities.
In addition to these takeaways, it was reassuring for me that ship owners are looking for technical solutions that provide peace of mind. For RSC Bio Solutions that has meant helping owners protect assets and protect the environment with technical solutions proven in the field and backed by a warranty.
If you have any additional insights, care to provide feedback, or just want to engage in a conversation about the trends in the industry, drop me a note through firstname.lastname@example.org.