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Maritime CEO 300: Innovation

Singapore: Maritime CEO has sailed past the 300-interview mark. The portal designed to tap leading insights from the top movers and shakers in the maritime and offshore industries has now established itself as a must-read title for those wanting to find out which way the tides of our industry are turning.
To celebrate passing the 300 mark all week we dive into the archives to highlight specific themes that have permeated throughout Maritime CEO’s existence. We start today with innovation. Arguably, shipping has never been hit with so much innovation as in the past four or five years – lean times tend to drive inspiration. Maritime CEO has had good access to many of the lead innovators.
Jonathan Wichmann, Maersk’s former head of social media, wrote four months back for this site in one of the most popular articles to have appeared on Maritime CEO’s website about shipping and the internet.
“I’m convinced that social media is one of the best starting points if you want to prepare for the future and avoid being disrupted by the new digital and social technologies. Not least because it’s cross-functional and has proven to be an effective silobreaker,” he suggested.
How the internet has changed the face of shipping has been a constant theme on this website.
Fifteen months ago the founder and ceo of maritime e-commerce site ShipServ, Paul Ostergaard described VesselsValue.com as having “changed forever the way ships are valued”. It is a fact that VesselsValue.com has changed the shipbroking and ship investment landscape and, according to ceo Richard Rivlin, there’s plenty more to come from this British firm.
“A huge gap in the market was created for VesselsValue.com when ship values fell significantly in the crash,” Rivlin explained to Maritime CEO this January. “People were desperate to know the constantly changing values, needing a software system that would daily and automatically update values for all ships within the traditional shipping segments.”
VesselsValue.com is teaming up with Maritime CEO to produce our first annual Rich List.
Maritime CEO editor Sam Chambers explained the concept of the list which shows the richest 50 fleets for the first time: “The maritime media is awash with subjective lists of who is more powerful than others, what we have set out do is to publish an annual objective list that lays out owners by fleet value and shows readers what each company owns. This will be one of the guaranteed talking points at this year’s Posidonia.”
In an era where the role of IT has never been more vital to organizational success and where technology adoption is mainstream, shipping and related services companies must embrace this change, argued Marcelo Espejo, the founder and senior partner of mar-IT-ime consulting, when interviewed in December.
“In our experience,” Espejo said, “the maritime industry in general and the shipping sector in particular have a clear gap in terms of IT adoption. mar-IT-ime has been created to close this gap.”
 “We have seen a growing interest in cloud adoption,” said the IT expert. “The industry is embracing the concept, interested in finding ways to have IT as a business enabler, not only as a cost centre.”
Krystyna Wojnarowicz, the president of Marsec-XL, the Marine Software Engineering Center of Excellence, was insistent that shipping was missing a trick when it came to software development when we met up last November.
Wojnarowicz was adamant that maritime software development is something that has been undervalued and underappreciated in the industry and yet is something that will only grow in importance.
“I call for more attention be given to digital technologies in our industry,” she said, “as most, if practically not all, innovations will be and are already today, in some way, determined by or based on software. This means that today there is a growing need for domain specific maritime software engineers in the maritime industry, which so far has not yet been fully recognised by most maritime CEOs and decisions makers.”
Ultimately, innovation in shipping often only sells if it can make the end user, the owner, savings, and constantly Maritime CEO is bombarded with marketing bumf claiming all kinds of incredible cost savings. Just occasionally, however, we come across genuine innovators who are helping owners trim their operating costs.
For instance, with fuel bills near the top of the headache list for shipowners these days one Danish firm is growing at around 25% a year as it provides solutions to this ever increasing problem.
Propulsion Dynamics was formed back in 2001 by three entrepreneurs envisioning that great savings could be made from monitoring and optimising ship’s hull and propeller performance.
“Many shipowners are finding themselves in a very tough market with high fuel oil prices combined with low rates for their services, and on top of this facing regulatory issues and requirements,” said one of the founders, Christian Brobeck. The company has testimonies from two of its biggest customers claiming possible fuel savings to be approximately 5% on their whole fleet and ROI to be far less than one year.
Similarly the issue of escalating lube prices is one that will continue to vex shipowners for years to come unless a radical solution is made available. One lube veteran, Dr Klaus-Werner Damm, reckons he has found the technology and middle ground to keep owners and suppliers happy.
Damm founded InnoTech in the US just over a year ago. Among his ideas to make lubes more accessible is in developing localized microblending, a technology he has created called InnoFlex.
Saving money and ‘going green’ are mutually beneficial – and inevitable – trends for shipping many have argued when interviewed by this site.
The coming five years will see a dramatic green change in shipping, argued the head of Finnish new energy firm, The Switch, this February.
Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen is the president and ceo of The Switch, a company focused on alternative energy and involved in many sectors other than marine. Being involved in plenty of other sectors gives Mäkinen opinions on how shipping can buck up its green credentials.
“There are currently many drivers that are pushing towards greener technology,” Mäkinen said of the shipping industry. “That’s why,” he continued, “we believe that over the next five years a major shift will take place in the maritime industry. At that time, non-green ships will be too expensive to run, and they will not be welcome any longer at many harbours.”
Quite so, agreed Penny Haire, managing director of oceanographic IT firm, Tidetech, when we caught up with her in Tasmania earlier this year. She, for one, is absolutely convinced that shipping will have to embrace green technology and the sooner the better.
“Going green is a business decision and those who pursue these technologies most aggressively will see the earliest returns,” she maintained.
Not every invention is about saving money, some are more important, saving lives.
For instance, did you know lifeboats have cost more lives during training drills than they saved during actual rescue situations. The hook release system, which attaches the boats to the wire and winch that lowers them into the water, has been the cause of about 80% of these accidents.
A new SOLAS legislation that takes effect from July 1 this year will regulate that all vessels drydocking must change their launch, recovery, retrieval system (LRRS ). By the end of 2019, all systems must have been replaced. Solutions are at hand however.
Nadiro, which was established in Denmark in 2009, has an On-Load, Release, Retrival System (OLRRS) for lifeboats which ceo Frank Hansen maintained was a “game changer” for the industry when interviewed as Maritime CEO 298 last week.
Over in the UK, Teresa Stevens was the inventor behind Guardian Maritime, what has become on of the most effective tools against piracy.
Guardian works by covering the ship’s safety rails with a specially designed plastic barrier made in one metre sections that slot over a vessel’s rails. Once installed, Guardian provides a robust and simple way of making access to a ship, yacht or rig as difficult as possible.
“While there was nothing like it available on the market before I designed Guardian,” Stevens related, “sadly as with all great ideas people with no original ideas of their own are trying to steal the design and copy it, we are fighting IP battles constantly.”
Therein, lies the problem with innovation, the greatest ideas are invariably copied.
Watch out tomorrow in the second of our special Maritime CEO 300 series where we look at shipping’s public image issues. [07/04/13]

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