Wilhelmsen takes next step on rapidly evolving digital voyage

Wilhelmsen’s dogged pursuit of becoming a digital pioneer among the world’s shipping community continues with news of a major investment in a local platform. Wilhelmsen has purchased 50% of Dolittle, a fellow Norwegian company developing and operating business platforms and applications for cloud environments, splitting ownership 50/50 with the start-up founders.

The Dolittle strategic acquisition follows on from the recent creation of Massterly, an autonomous shipping company created in a joint effort with the Kongsberg.

“You will not survive in this industry if you’re conservative,” said Thomas Wilhelmsen, group CEO of Wilhelmsen. “ By owning digital competency we enable all departments and companies within Wilhelmsen to develop and create valuable digital solutions. With help from Dolittle we can move quicker and cover the internal and external needs our customers have.”

Arif Shafique, CEO and co-founder of Dolittle, explained that the start-up creates new architecture and frameworks for digital product building.

“We develop digital solutions for customers in a rapid pace. The first version of a newly announced software system for Wilhelmsen smart ropes was developed in a week and a half. This used to take months, even years. In addition to fast pace decision- and development processes, we use tried-and-tested building blocks for all our products. This gives flexibility where we can scale all our products from day one,” said Shafique.

Wilhemsen has been trialling smart ropes with sensors as well as many other novel initiatives such as drone deliveries to ships and 3D printing in port.

“Technology such as virtual reality (VR) and digital twins, let us simulate and test solutions in a safe environment before we use it out at sea in real life. With VR and digital twin technology from Dolittle, it’s about time we move new solutions onto the digital bridge,” Wilhelmsen said in a release.

Dolittle’s team come from previous roles in Microsoft and the Norwegian online retailer Komplett

In a bold statement, Shafique, Dolittle’s co-founder, said: “We want to change the way software is built globally and Wilhelmsen wants to chart the course for an entire industry. Together we will lay the foundation for how we shape tomorrow’s maritime and software industry.”

No price has been revealed for the Dolittle investment.

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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