‘Normal means nothing is normal. Normal means change’: ABS boss

Christopher Wiernicki, the chairman of American class society ABS, has once again impressed upon the shipping industry the need to embrace change amid dramatic technological changes sweeping through the sector.

Addressing the opening session of the Connecticut Maritime Association (CMA) Shipping 2018 conference, Wiernicki said: “It’s clear our business environment is changing and we have a new definition of what normal means. Normal means nothing is normal. Normal means change. The new norm will be more data-intensive, focusing on better asset management decision making, not just better equipment or physics.”

 Analysing the challenges facing leaders in the new normal, Wiernicki outlined three actions leadership must take in order to succeed.

“Leadership must understand the role of technology and the importance of assessing technology risk in the commercial risk decision making process, maintain a healthy balance between innovation and pragmatism especially when it comes to digital technologies, and recognise it has three levers to pull in order to achieve competitive performance: Identifying and developing talent, managing and rationalising technology, and choosing the right operating model for a business,” Wiernicki said. 

“The step-change for shipping is likely to have a longer horizon, and the more disruptive digital technology-driven changes are likely to be introduced first to the commercial process in shipping’s supply chain, such as blockchain, trading platforms and predictive vetting and training,” the ABS boss added. 

“This will most likely be followed by gradual changes in the digital operating ecosystem in the form of redefining ship-to-shore communication through cloud computing, improving navigation through greater situational awareness and object recognition using sensor technology, relying more on data-driven predictive and preventive maintenance to improve propulsion system performance, and by condition-based versus calendar-based classification,” he concluded.

CMA continues today with the unveiling of the latest commodore, the de facto American shipping hall of fame, with Sabrina Chao from Hong Kong’s Wah Kwong set to join the illustrious pantheon of shipping greats.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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