Shipping is changing, and the next decade looks set to deliver more real change than the past half-century. Climate change driven technical change, the rise of new forms of regulation, demands driven by clients, stakeholders, and the eyes of consumers on us 24/7, mean the pressure to improve and deliver will be continually ramping up.
Safety of people, looking after the planet and delivering on time and in time will see shipping companies, ship managers, owners and operators leaping through ever more hoops and connecting directly or indirectly with an increasing number of stakeholders.
Keys to the future
So, what will the future likely bring? Here are the key areas we think you need to be pondering…
- The old ways are evaporating: survey and certification have provided a promise of performance, but that was a long time ago. Rows and rows of neat files and checklists will mean little, the future will be about real performance, not promises. So get used to everyone knowing everything about all the things you do. Open source shipping, with the client knowing the “code” will mean results will matter more and more and there will be fewer places to hide.
- New Shipping: Smart sensors will be the drivers of this new shipping environment. Sophisticated sensors and raw computational power will enable new ways to analyse ship-generated data and gain actionable insights. This is the brave new, wonderful world of maritime informatics.
- A new voice: The relentless rise of sensors will mean a new voice of shipping. The feedback will be the data squeezed out of every vessel. All important operational aspects onboard (and maybe some unimportant ones) will have sensors. The outputs will tell whoever is interested all they need to know. The impact of sensor optimised operation on the bottom line? An EY model suggests that under a “high-implementation” scenario, the EBITDA margin could increase by 11%–34%.
- So many new questions: The levels of data and transparency which shipping will be entering will mean operations can be scrutinised in unprecedented detail. This means ignorance will be no excuse for ignoring the necessary. The old proverb of “never ask questions you don’t want the answers to” will be difficult to observe with so many answers begging for attention.
- Acting on the actionable: With so many questions being asked, and data flowing between ship and shore, and back again, the insights gained are vital. However, the real value only comes when the actionable is actioned. Knowing things will not be enough, companies will have to make the tweaks, changes and adapt to deliver real improvements.
- Seaworthiness redefined: This fundamental requirement will be redefined in the years to come. With terabytes of data flowing across the oceans, there will be a data component added to the traditional definitions. With continuously streaming data there will also be no particular need to limit the obligation of seaworthiness to a narrow window in time.
- Risks will evolve: With data comes decisions, and no industry is quite as adept at using figures to weft and weave its way through business deals as marine insurance. It will be fascinating to watch how the perceived risks are assessed, or indeed if the notion of insurance changes as levels of operational certainty challenge margins.
- Bigger, but smaller too: There are still some who think that we will see ever bigger ships. Ports will obviously have a say in just how big is too big. Anyway, along with the leaps in economies of scale will come a parallel shrinking as smaller vessels have a new role to play. The use of rivers, canals, estuaries, as well as coastal waters is likely to rise greatly over the coming years. The necessary changes to meet emissions reduction targets will mean that countries have to embrace new transport modes and the best new one may be a very old one; transport by water! New technologies, including remote and autonomous operation, will also be applied more readily in these non-IMO fleets.
- Greener propulsion: Determining how future ships are powered is at the heart of meeting carbon reduction targets. The changing role of fossil fuels and the marginal operational gains from fuel savings, will be give way to new fuels. LNG may be the transition fuel of choice (for some) and fossil fuels last hurrah, but soon, green ammonia and hydrogen will make their plays, and there are still ambitions for molten salt nuclear reactors to play a part.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us here at StratumFive, and we will share the journey as the future becomes the present, and the big picture becomes clear.
Stay connected and safe.