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Facing up to the reality of a much smarter marine future

Facing up to the reality of a much smarter marine future

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A couple of weeks ago, Wärtsilä announced its vision of a Smart Marine Ecosystem. Here in the words of Roger Holm, president of its marine solutions business, we find out what exactly it all means.

The shipping industry is not going to be (and should not want to be) spared an increasingly inter-connected future. New technologies that were considered completely unachievable just a few years ago are rapidly being introduced, creating new levels of efficiency and cost savings that are influencing the future of shipping. We at Wärtsilä have committed ourselves to being at the forefront of these changes.

By utilising high levels of connectivity and digitalisation, we intend to lead the way to a Smart Marine Ecosystem. We are building upon our broad product and service solutions base to support innovation, while collaborating with customers and partners, including ship owners, ship management companies, ports, bunker suppliers, and software or technology providers, among others in order to realise this vision.

To support this approach we have, among other initiatives, developed Digital Acceleration Centres (DAC) to speed up the innovation process and to work with customers in co-creating new business models and solutions. One DAC is already established in Helsinki, Finland, with another scheduled to be opened in Singapore before the end of the year. We plan to open two more in 2018; one in Central Europe, the other in North America.

The results of this work are already apparent. In August, in cooperation with our customer Gulfmark Offshore, we successfully tested the remote controlling of the ‘Highland Chieftain’, an 80-metre long platform supply vessel owned by Gulfmark Offshore. This was carried out by satellite from a distance of 8000 kilometres using standard bandwidth, and without the use of any land-based technology for communications between the vessel and the remote operator work station. Remarkably, the vessel was sailing off the east coast of Scotland, while it was being remotely operated from Wärtsilä premises in San Diego, California.

While complete ship autonomy is unlikely to be fully in use for a while yet, hybrid propulsion using a combination of engines and battery storage is already established and becoming increasingly popular. It is estimated that hybrid propulsion solutions will represent a significant percentage of all contracted ships within the coming ten years.

By leveraging our strengths in both engine design and electrical & automation systems, we have launched a fully integrated hybrid power module, the Wärtsilä HY, optimised to work seamlessly through a newly developed energy management system (EMS). Notably, it is the marine industry’s first hybrid power module of its type produced, thereby establishing a new industry benchmark.

No innovation can succeed without clear benefits to its end user, and we are proud that the Wärtsilä HY provides many of them. For example, we can identify lower fuel consumption, reduced exhaust emissions, and improved vessel performance. When operating in ‘green’ mode, zero emissions can be achieved, while smokeless operation is also achievable at all load points and in all operating modes, thanks to a patent pending automation procedure.

We passionately believe in a better connected, more efficient and environmentally sustainable shipping industry, made possible by a Smart Marine Ecosystem – join us on this journey and stay tuned for more exciting developments.

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