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Wärtsilä and China’s coming maritime digital transformation

Chief correspondent Jason Jiang has been in Shanghai all week on a press tour with Wärtsilä. Below are his key takeaways from the trip.

Finnish marine engine maker and marine services provider Wärtsilä is increasing its efforts in the digital transformation realm.

Roger Holm, president of Wärtsilä Marine Solutions, believes digital transformation is essential to overcome the current situation of marine markets.

“Currently the marine markets are recovering at a slow pace and the short term market outlook continues to be weak in many vessel segments,” Holm says.

According to Holm, the company has been making large efforts on smart marine and smart energy ecosystem solutions, and has made significant investments in future technology in the areas of artificial intelligence, data analytics, open platforms and blockchain to create new business models.

“Wärtsilä’s portfolio provides robust support for digitalisation,” Holm says, adding that data generation across its portfolio enables big data analytics and a full-blown automation, navigation and control system offering.

The company is also putting a large R&D effort in autonomous navigation.

Moreover, Holm says China’s move into a mobile and social media age also impacts how the company does its business, considering the company has a major presence in China.

Holm is optimistic Wärtsilä has increasing opportunities in China. The company has more than 20 years’ history in China. Currently Wärtsilä operates five joint ventures, three fully-owned factories, and seven service centers in the People’s Republic.

Despite the current doldrums in the shipbuilding industry, Holm believes China is expected to further strengthen its position as a shipbuilding giant through increasing consolidation.

The size of the Chinese owned fleet has doubled since 2010 and is expected to grow further. According to a report by Clarkson Research, China is expected to overtake Japan as the second largest owner nation by 2020, and the top 10 Chinese builders are expected to account for 70% of total shipbuilding output by 2020.

James Han, managing director of Wärtsilä China, says the current main challenges in the Chinese shipbuilding markets include weak external demand, overcapacity and fierce competition, however, Han believes the government’s supply end reform initiative, combined with financial support for key state-owned shipyards and the ongoing transformation to high-end shipbuilding are all positive factors for the market.

Wärtsilä also has a strong offering in marine services with a broad range of expertise and services including maintenance and overhaul, repair, trouble shooting, technical advisory and training.

Claus Vogel, director of Wärtsilä’s China Service Unit, has seen there is increasing demand for energy efficient solutions to comply with regulations, reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

“Environmental legislation and energy efficiency are major concerns for our customers,” Vogel says. He reckons digital rendition enabled via transparent and real-time data is essential and value adding digital services will help improve performance and increase revenue potential.

Wärtsilä is currently providing marine services to a number of top state-owned companies of China including Cosco Shipping, CNOOC and China Communication Construction Company.

“China’s internet plus strategy of the current five-year plan fits well with our digitalisation strategy. The South China Sea and One Belt One Road initiative will be supporting our service segment going forward,” Vogel says.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.
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