Tag Archive for: maritime transport

Why are shortsea shipping routes on trend?

In 2021 Shortsea Shipping recorded an 11.7% increase over 2020, and managed to surpass 2019’s figures, when 269 million tons were moved, according to Shortsea data.

The so called ‘Butterfly effect’ that has is origin from the Chinese proverb: “The flapping of a butterfly’s wings can be felt on the other side of the world.” It can be used to illustrate the causes and changes that led to the increase of short sea shipping traffic and routes in the Mediterranean. This led to the need for specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains.

Several factors have influenced this upward trend in short sea shipping, mainly the shortage of truck drivers and the relocation of production from Asia to Africa or even Europe and thus changing the maritime trade routes.

Why this?

Shortage of truck drivers

One of the factors responsible relies on the global shortage of truck drivers, specifically, 2.6 million jobs were left unfilled worldwide in 2021, according to the Driver Shortage Global Report 2022: Summary.

Some of the reasons why truck driver positions are disappearing are: the difficulty finding operational workforce, since the average age for truck drivers is 55 years, in addition to being a profession that requires long periods away from home, which is a hindrance for the younger generations, who are more aware of the need for work-life balance. These reasons are compounded by the lack of female drivers and the lack of training and, therefore, of qualified drivers.

In addition to this, restrictions and problems for supply chain worldwide led to a shift in lower risk production locations, increasing local production.

Supply chain shifts and energetic dependency

China’s zero covid policy have aggravated problems in supply chains worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, and have had a direct or indirect impact on European industries, which have opted on the recovery of production in Europe and America to the detriment of Asia.

Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made clear that the only way to be energy independent is through renewable energies, therefore decarbonizing the transport sector.

Beyond being on trend, the shortsea shipping routes have proven to be the most effective solution to these disruptions, being not only strategic for industries but more sustainable in the short and long term. Facing global supply chain adaptations, energy dependency issues and the urgent need to decarbonize the sector, as well as the need for qualified workforce for intermodal transport, see highway in the Mediterranean are becoming great commercial routes.

Therefore, more and more specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains might be needed because of this changing scenario.

Shortsea Shipping Transport Talent

In a short future scenario companies form the logistics and transportation sector might need more qualified talent capable of managing intermodal transportation logistics chains, as this is the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option.  Trainings like Most Iberia are top gear and economical options for professionals or companies seeking to specialize its personnel with the latest trends and topics in the sector.

Source: El renacer comercial de las autopistas del mar | Actualidad Económica (elmundo.es)

Green hydrogen ‘comes back to the future’

Green hydrogen as a source of fuel can be essential for decarbonizing the transport sector, especially for covering the limitations of electric solutions and other clean energies, since it is found easily and thanks to the increase of research projects worldwide, green H is getting cheaper.

Anthony-Rampersad_Unsplash_Green Hydrogen

What is ‘Green Hydrogen’?

Green Hydrogen is a source of energy that has no colour, no odour or taste, is abundant and it does not emit any carbon dioxide emissions when used to power fuel cells.

There are different types of hydrogen and every type has its characteristics; they’re essentially colour codes, used within the energy industry to mark each type of hydrogen.It can be grey, blue, green, brown and even yellow and pink, depending on the type of products used, different colours are assigned to the hydrogen.

As the iconic movie trilogy of the mid-’80s “Back to the future” predicted, we can say that hydrogen “comes back to the future”.

Many factors make this raw material so appealing as a great alternative in comparison to electric and carbon fuels. And especially, now is the time to incentivise green fuels as the need for decarbonising the planet is one of the goals that countries around the world have set for 2050, especially the European Union.

How does Green Hydrogen work?

As explained before, hydrogen has no colour, but the name of the colour is given by the type of waste in the production process. Grey and blue come from fossil fuels that generate CO2, and the resulting emissions are captured, stored and not released into the atmosphere. Pink hydrogen comes through electrolysis powered by nuclear energy, yellow is a relatively new phrase for hydrogen made through electrolysis using solar power. Brown hydrogen is made using black coal or lignite (brown coal), these black and brown hydrogen are the opposite of green hydrogen in the hydrogen spectrum and the most environmentally damaging – whereas green hydrogen does not generate any emission neither in the production process nor the combustion.

Green Hydrogen is produced with no harmful greenhouse gas emissions and is generated by using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to electrolyse water. Electrolysers use an electrochemical reaction to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, emitting zero-carbon dioxide in the process, according to National Grid information.

How can the transport sector make use of green hydrogen?

Since the transport sector represents the source of one-third of total CO2 emissions in Europe, it could benefit from the renewed attention on hydrogen to replace fossil fuels and meet the European Union decarbonisation goals. This way it could be a lead actor in the transport sector where batteries are an impracticable solution to substitute fossil fuels powering ferries, coasting trade or inland waterways and in rail applications.

Currently, the production of green hydrogen represents a small percentage of the overall, this is due to the elevated costs of production. Green hydrogen will come down in price as it becomes more common, providing an answer to one of the great challenges facing the energy sector. Developing systems to store surplus energy from renewables on a large scale, reduce Europe’s energy dependence, and cover gap areas since electric energy cannot be used in all transport systems as in maritime transport.

What are the obstacles to using green hydrogen?

So, can green hydrogen be implemented right away in the transportation sector? One of the biggest barriers to the adoption of this fuel for the transport sector comes from the low supply, since FC vehicles are expensive, although mass-production could reduce costs, as well as the difficulties of mass market diffusion in hydrogen storage. If applied in the current scenario of mass production vehicles for transport and fuels, hydrogen could reach areas where batteries and electric energy sources cannot cover.

Application in maritime transport

One of the major consumers of oil products and heavy fuels is the maritime sector, harming the quality of air, especially around ports. If applied to the engines of the maritime transport sector, green hydrogen could reduce not only emissions during sea navigation, but also those deriving from port operations.

In the last year, there have been some steps towards creating the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship. Implementing this technology on ships, ferries and other coastal crafts could strongly reduce CO2 emissions.

Application in rail transport

Currently, it is difficult to electrify certain sections of railway lines on which fossil fuel-powered trains are used. Hydrogen trains are considered competitive for those railway sections that don’t depend on electric energy, with a low frequency of service and operate on long distances. These conditions are frequent in rail transport, making hydrogen rail mobility interesting from an economic point of view and an excellent opportunity to further decarbonise public transport, according to Enea, (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile).

 

Certainly, we will see green hydrogen powering sectors that strongly depend on carbon fuels as companies and countries meet the goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in the maritime and rail transport sectors. This is without a doubt a comeback to clean and essential sources of energy and as the famous DeLorean from the film, engines will be using clean hydrogen to keep up the pace.

 

Sources:

The hydrogen colour spectrum | National Grid Group

 Hydrogen and “green transport” – EAI (enea.it)

Green Hydrogen: an essential element for decarbonization (cepsa.com)

Alternative Fuels Data Center: Hydrogen Benefits and Considerations (energy.gov)

 

Infographic: Why Real-Time Data Matters to the Maritime Industry

Big Data is a field that extracts and analyses data from data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. But why does it matter to the maritime industry? For this month’s #DidYouKnow series we have prepared an infographic that details the main concepts that surround real-time data and maritime transport. 

Curious to know more? These and many other concepts are covered in our Motorways of the Sea course. Contact us to find out what are the upcoming courses this year.

Why real-time data matters to the maritime industry 1/2 Why real-time data matters to the maritime industry 2/2

Why Real-Time Data Matters to the Maritime Industry

In the face of the current 4th industrial revolution, it is interesting to take a look what changes are taking place in the virtual space of maritime transport. This month, we wanted to share with you an article, originally posted on the Sofar Ocean website, dealing with real-time data and why it matters to the maritime industry and its on-shore and off-shore actors. 

 

Logo-SofarOcean

This article originally appeared on the Sofar Ocean website

Over 90% of the world’s trade is in the hands of the international maritime shipping industry. Every year, it moves more than USD 4 trillion of goods. For shipping companies, there’s a lot of pressure to remain on schedule, protect the cargo ship and crew, and ensure profitability. It is not an easy task.
This interactive map of the world’s main shipping routes provides a glimpse of the industry’s complexity. 90,000 vessels cross paths as they transport goods from one continent to another on a daily basis.

 

The map was created by London-based data visualisation studio Kiln and the UCL Energy Institute

It’s clear from this map that the maritime industry involves an intricate system of transportation. To complicate things, ports and vessels are also subject to the forces of nature, which are becoming harder and harder to predict. With all of these obstacles in the way, shipping companies must be able to adapt to changing situations and act fast. This is where Sofar Ocean comes in. We believe that with real-time big data analytics, however, the maritime industry can better navigate these unexpected challenges.

What is Real-Time Big Data?

Big data is a field that extracts and analyses data from data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. Real-time capabilities mean that those insights are delivered immediately after collection.

How does Real-Time Big Data Help the Maritime Industry?

Maritime companies generate data from different sources and in several formats. Traditionally, these insights are fixed, siloed, and inconsistent. Actioning this information is time-consuming and a major complication point for shipping companies.

With big data tools, this inflow of data is collated and organised in a cloud-based system. This system then analyses and extrapolates the relevant data in real-time, which promotes better decision making. Nothing is left to intuition or chance—therewith unlocking opportunities to drive greater efficiencies.

Efficient Maritime Operations and Logistics

Overall operations and logistics, for example, become much more efficient with real-time data. Companies can obtain information through GPS and RFID tags to help locate containers and ships immediately. Data technology also helps synchronise communication to manage ship arrivals, berthings, and departures safely and efficiently. And in case of an emergency, non-availability of the labour, or terminal allocations, real-time data helps ships plan their routes and speeds accordingly.

Due to climate change, this ability to pivot has never been so relevant. Although the interactive map above demonstrates that the global maritime industry is a well-oiled machine, the ocean’s climate—currents, waves, and wind—are more unpredictable than ever. Real-time data streamlines decision making and supports ad hoc navigation to ensure companies maximise returns.

Fuel-efficient routing

By having access to real-time sea state observations—currents, waves, and swell—vessel operators can re-route according to current ocean and weather conditions while optimising fuel efficiency. Inefficient weather routing oftentimes leads to the increased time spent at sea, which not only disrupts and delays the supply chain but can also increase fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

In addition to increasing voyage earnings, fuel-efficient routing also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, supporting the latest GHG reduction strategy developed in 2018 by the International Maritime Organization. The initial strategy envisages that the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. What does 50% look like? The IMO calculated that vessels released 1.12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide the year before, in 2007. So we can guess that emissions need to be reduced by 560 million metric tons. That’s equivalent to emissions from 102 million cars!

So are we saying that real-time data helps reduce fuel costs and GHG emissions? Yes, yes we are. Not a bad day at the office.

Is Real-Time Big Data Safe From Cyber Threats?

We hear this question a lot, and rightly so. The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) onboard ships—and their connection to the internet—creates an increased attack surface that requires greater cyber risk management.

On the IT side, the chances of cyberattacks can be mitigated through proper implementation of encryption techniques like blockchain technology. From an operational standpoint, IMO maintains that effective cyber risk management should start at the senior management level—embedding a culture of cyber risk awareness into all levels and departments of an organisation. You can read more about this in BIMCO’s Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships.

Full Speed Ahead for the Maritime Industry

Is it possible that the maritime industry can become bigger and better? More lucrative, while emitting less GHG emissions? We believe so.

Knowledge is power. By implementing real-time insights in daily operations, shipping companies are well-positioned to navigate anything that comes their way. And how this year has gone, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an edge on the unexpected.

Curious what real-time data looks like? Take a peek at Sofar Ocean’s publicly available weather network dashboard, which offers real-time open-ocean marine weather observation data from over 500 weather sensors worldwide!

This article was originally posted on Sofar Ocean

Towards gender equality at sea

Historically, the shipping industry has been dominated by men, and the sea has been deemed a “man’s world”. This pattern can still be witnessed today, with a larger percentage of male workers hired for onboard positions when compared to the low percentage of female employees. In fact, only around 2 percent of the world’s seafarers are women, with the vast majority (94%) employed in the cruise industry. Long months at sea, complemented by hard physical labour have driven this trend and made it difficult for women to join the crews of international tankers, containerships, etc and to balance out gender equality.

Today, there are organisations that work towards the normalization of women in shipping – with the IMO having launched several initiatives. One such initiative was setting the theme for the 2019 World Maritime Day as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”– and so providing a unique opportunity to raise awareness of gender equality and to give visibility to the contributions of maritime women all over the world. Similarly, since 2015, the European Neighbourhood Instrument has put special focus on gender equality and the economic empowerment of women on both shores of the Mediterranean, and has been working with projects that give light to the incredible work of women in Europe and Africa.  The Union for the Mediterranean itself has dedicated a vast amount of their social and civic work towards the empowerment of women, developing the employability of women in Africa, and WOMED, which aims to prepare the next generation of leaders.

Nevertheless, the shipping industry is not only composed of seafarers– it also comprises a whole network of professionals that design, build and manage on shore operations. Let us take a look at the situation in more detail.

Women at sea

The issue of gender equality in shipping is a very complex one, and has been on the radar of many international organizations for years (with a particular boost following the women’s rights movements that gained momentum in the late 2010s). In 2019, the IMO has tried to push the promotion of women at sea and begun to investigate the roots of any gender-related incidents. The studies have identified instances of sexual assaults and abuse directed at women on board of deep-sea shipping routes – in line with the general trend identified across many other industries following the rise of the #MeToo movement. Nevertheless, this has not been the principal barrier to getting more women to join crews onboard. “At the end of the day, it is all about equality – the work on board of a vessel is physically demanding. Even with the advances in automation, a lot of hard work still has to be done by the crew, and stamina and physical strength are a must! Women at sea should, of course, feel safe and comfortable, and at the same time pull in the same amount of work as the men crew members”, commented Vanessa Bexiga, a maritime engineer and seafarer herself. Routes with more frequent port calls are easier for everyone, as they help diffuse physical and psychological tensions between the crew members, and are more appealing for women seafarers.

Photo of Seafarer Daniela Andrade from the Ecuadorian Coast Guard #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare

Another issue identified by Bexiga is the lack of transparency and publicity visible in the shipping industry, which is the true barrier. Maritime news and developments almost always stay within the maritime sector, and do not transcend the social strata of the broader society. As a result, there is no true reference which can serve as an entry point for women to become interested enough to try to enter the maritime world – something that would need to change to put the profession on the radar of young women contemplating their future employment options.

Cruises are another story – in the last few years Celebrity Cruises in particular has taken on the leadership role in the promotion of women and sea, and began to push for the employment of women at sea. The most famous example is the advancement of Kate McCue to the role of Captain on the bridge of Celebrity Summit in 2015 (you can follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/captainkatemccue/?hl=en). She is now the captain of Celebrity Edge, and has gone down in history as the first American woman (and fifth overall) to have been given the command of a mega cruise ship. Last year Celebrity Cruises became the first company to boast of an all-female officer crew – further helping combat the perception that sea work is a man’s job. Visibility is key in normalizing the role of female seafarers, and to this end, the IMO has started the #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare hashtag – to make women seen both within the maritime community, and in the social media and news reports. You can check out the existing photo bank here: flickr.com/photos/imo-un/sets/72157713420624662/

Achieving complete gender equality is a long process, and it will take small and decisive steps to get there. It is not a sprint, but a marathon, and we are moving in the right direction.

Women on shore

Women on shore is a completely different story – as they are not faced with the same barriers as women on board. The months-long isolation is not a factor, and theoretically barriers shouldn’t exist for women who want to advance in the sector. As with many sectors, however, this is not the case. Women still get overlooked for promotions, and frequently aren’t trusted with positions of higher responsibility. Moreover, having children is a career-ender for a woman at sea, and it also affects the perception of the availability of a woman on shore.

It is not all bleak. Marta Miquel, the Chief Operations Officer at the Escola Europea, has noticed that many companies are realizing that women hold management skills that help enterprises relate better to current social trends, digitalization patterns and human resource management through the use of analytical thinking and pragmatism, with added touches of empathy and social sensibility. Automation in terminals has made it possible for employers to look for soft skills in their new hires – with the ability to speak English being at the top of the desired list – and the high number of female university graduates has made it possible for women to slowly even out the gender imbalance in the sector.  This is supported by the fact that the Escola Europea, a training center specialized in transport and logistics and founded in 2004, has noticed a significant growth in the presence of women in the industry. 50% of registrations for the training courses of the Escola come from female participants, who find themselves in the 18-22-year-old age group.

This balance is not evident in the Escola’s courses organized for executives, where the percentage of women is significantly lower. This could be seen in a positive and negative light, says Miquel: “The good news is that women at a young age are becoming empowered and seduced by this interesting industry. However, the bad news is that they do not get the chance to escalate as quickly as men, or get discouraged when accessing the sector.”

Maritime Associations for Women’s rights:

 

Officer Nkopuyo Abraham – photo by IMO #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare

If you are interested in this topic, take a look at the many different women’s right associations and capacity building programmes that are dedicated towards gender equality. The Women in Maritime Associations has launched a number of them, as listed on the WIMA’s website:

  • The WMU (World Maritime University) Women’s Association (WMUWA) aims to establish a network of past, current and prospective female students by expanding international networks with other organizations worldwide while planning for future growth: http://wmuwa.wmu.se/
  • Pacific Women in Maritime Association (PacWIMA) set up in Fiji in February 2004 and relaunched in Tonga in April 2016. (http://www.pacwima.org)
  • Network of Professional Women in the Maritime and Port Sectors for West and Central Africa launched in Benin in February 2007.
  • Association for Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa region (WOMESA) established in Kenya in December 2007. (http://womesa.org)
  • Women in Maritime Association, Asia (WIMA Asia) established in January 2010 and relaunched in the Philippines in 2015. (https://www.facebook.com/wimaasia/)
  • Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC) set up in Jamaica in April 2015. (http://wimacaribbean.com)
  • Arab Women in Maritime Association  (AWIMA) established in Egypt in October 2017 (http://www.arabwima.org/en/home)
  • Red de Mujeres de Autoridades Marítimas de Latinoamérica (Red-MAMLa), established in Chile in December 2017.
  • WISTA, formed in 1974, and connects female executives and decision-makers around the world- https://wistainternational.com/

This article has only touched the tip of the iceberg that is the topic of women in shipping. In the past 5 years a lot of progress has been made to improve the disparity that exists between the two genders. Although more work has to be done, we are going in the correct direction. “It needs to start in schools! I used to go to schools to talk about my experience as a seafarer and present it as an opportunity for young girls. The sea is my life, and I want to share it with young girls and boys alike. Historically it hasn’t been accepted as a profession for women, and this is why we need to educate the youth and normalize it for young girls. It is no longer only a fool’s dream – women are sailing the seas, and show no signs of slowing down,” concludes Bexiga.

Special thanks to Vanessa Bexiga and Marta Miquel for their contributions to this editorial.

Written by

  • Lidia Slawinska

 

Useful links:

Innovative perspectives for training of the new generation in the Blue Economy

In 2019 the Escola’s team has decided to take it upon themselves to carry out a research study on the current state of experiential training offers in the areas in which the Escola is active. This study was borne out of the recognised need to understand the exponential changes that are happening in the world of transport in light of the fourth industrial revolution. This is particularly true when dealing with professions in the Blue Economy, which hosts the majority of the global international trade. The Escola’s team hoped to conclude that there is a rapidly growing need to adapt training programmes of professionals hoping to enter the maritime world, to help counter this reality and thus better prepare the individuals for the industries.

The resulting study showed that when synergies are created in a network of training centres and companies in the sector within a country or between different countries, the result is rapid learning and the creation of innovative training programmes, which better prepare the professionals for the jobs of the future. Using data data collected from training centres and companies that frequently collaborate in the Escola’s courses, the team concluded that the courses offered by the Escola have a format that is both innovative and experiential in nature, and thus by internationalising and mixing the groups, the training is more successful and current to the needs of the market. It is important to develop tools and course models for training centres and companies to follow, and to ensure that more students have access to them. The final paper can be downloaded from the Escola’s website.

At the end of November, the Escola’s team then travelled to Portugal to present the findings at the first annual World of Shipping International Conference on Maritime Affairs, which took place in Carcavelos between the 21st and the 22nd of November. During the conference topics such as improved waterborne transport concepts, energy efficiency and emission control in waterborne transport concepts, optimisation of transport infrastructure including terminal, the port of the future, the autonomous and unmanned vessels, complex and value – added specialised vessels, and digitalisation were covered in other studies presented by scientists, researchers and industry professionals from around the world. The conference, which had its pilot event this year, aims to establish itself as a meeting point of reference bringing together the industry, leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of maritime transport to promote a better future for the industry.

Check out the Escola’s paper here: https://escolaeuropea.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/WofS_061_Full_Paper_FINAL.pdf.

Interested to know more? You can contact the article authors to enquire about the study itself or any future research planned.

The Escola Europea and the AdSP promote Fomarti al Porto

Civitavecchia, 27 September 2019 – The President of the North Central Tyrrhenian Sea Port Authority (AdSP according to its Italian initials), Francesco Maria di Majo, and the Director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, Eduard Rodés, presented the project “Formati al Porto”, whose aim is to offer training in the maritime and logistics sectors to students of secondary schools and universities.

The main objective of the initiative, already piloted with great success in the Port of Barcelona, is to address and bridge the gap between the specific skill needs of companies offered by the territory in the professional spheres.

“The Escola Europea, together with the AdSP, has worked very hard over the last two years to bring this wonderful project to the fore, which today becomes a reality”, declared Eduard Rodés. “One of the objectives of the course is to create a space for experimentation and discovery that can attract more and more people to this sector and, at the same time, guarantee professional development”, he continued. “The port and its operators, the port community, put their knowledge, infrastructure and equipment at the service of training and, therefore, of the city itself. Training and the promotion of employment must therefore constitute the spirit that moves “Formati al Porto”, with the complicity and help of all.”

“There is no doubt that maritime transport today is one of the main axes on which global trade moves,” explained the president of the North Central Tyrrhenian Sea Port Authority, Francesco Maria di Majo. “The increasing use of the so-called “Motorways of the Sea”, much desired by the European Union, has brought important benefits in terms of decongestion of land networks, facilitation of the flow of logistics chains and reduction of environmental impact,” continued di Majo. “Today the port of Civitavecchia feels even more than yesterday the need to offer competitive services and, above all, to invest in the human factor by forming a logistics community capable of facing future challenges and strategically placing the port at the forefront of Mediterranean logistics. Hence the importance of specific training in intermodal transport and the motorways of the sea to design, build and manage door-to-door operations more efficiently and safely, offering the necessary tools to analyse direct costs and environmental impacts. These are all fundamental elements for companies that want to increase their competitiveness in the market”, concluded Molo Vespucci’s number one.

The Escola Europea, which has an excellent international training record in the maritime and logistics sector, will use a team of experts and professionals from the Italian and Spanish sectors, making sure that the participants get high quality educational content.

The course, in collaboration with the most important Italian associations within the maritime sector and numerous local partners such as the Municipality of Civitavecchia, the Customs Agency, the University of Tuscia, ITC Guido Baccelli, Automar, the Mooring Group, Port Mobility SpA and the Port Authority, is also supported by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

And this morning, as a corollary of the synergy between AdSP and the Escola Europea, the Italian branch of the Escola was inaugurated. It will be located in the AdSP headquarters, where the pilot courses of “Formati al porto” will soon begin.

For more information about the course you can contact Marco Muci: italy@escolaeuropea.eu.

 

MASS Control Centre

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

One of the more controversial topics in shipping is the emergence of autonomous vessels. The feasibility of these new arrivals to the maritime field is today still quite controversial among the majority of industry experts. Nevertheless, what is certain is that, despite the uncertainty and the many sceptics, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does not disregard these new technological alternative initiatives and continues the debate and establish a methodology for conducting trials and develop a road map to consider the projects and investments of several leading companies of the sector.

The legal framework

The viability of applying these technologies is subject to legal limitations of the sector. Since 2018 the IMO has taken the first steps to address the issue of autonomous vessels, taking into account the interests of the industry in MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships). Initially the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved a framework for a regulatory scope exercise, in which a work plan and preliminary steps of autonomy have been established to create a methodology that can regulate the insertion of the operability of this activity.

Alongside the discussion of the feasibility of these operations, which can be very extensive, in this blog of Blue Innovation we want to comment on the technological advances that are currently under way and consider the initiatives of different companies that are beginning to develop these technologies.

Technological framework

When thinking about autonomous shipping operations, companies and governments alike need to take in account various considerations before implementing the technologies. Land based control centres, satellites capable of tracking the positions and progress of these vessels, sensor systems, collision prevention technologies, security concerns and environmental protections are only some that would need to be addressed before maritime autonomy becomes viable. It would also be unwise not to take into consideration the “twin” of MASS – autonomous mooring systems which require sensors and automated systems not only for vessel operations but also for shorter operations in the ports of call.

What follows is a brief summary of some of the leading projects currently in development that aim to tackle these and other issues, and thus pave the way towards shipping of the future:

  • 2016: the creation of One Sea, a global conglomerate of maritime partners that joined together to lead research co-creation of high-profile ecosystems with a primary aim to create an operating autonomous maritime ecosystem by 2025. Partners as Wärtsilä, ABB, Inmarsat, Ericson, Monohakobi T.I., Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Shipbroakers Finland and others are working together to combine top research to “create an environment suitable for autonomous ships by 2025”.

https://www.oneseaecosystem.net/about/

 

  • May 2017: Yara company joined DNV, Shipyards Vard and Kongsberg to build MV Yara Birkeland, an 80 mts, 120 TEUs and max 10kns vessel that aims to cover a logistic need of the Yara Group and seeks to eliminate 40,000 annual truck trips by road by substituting them with maritime routes of this new vessel. In addition to being autonomous, the vessel also follows a zero-emission plan with azimuthal electric engines and a closed ballast system, equipped with sensor technology, control algorithms, communication data and connectivity that will be interlinked with the operations of its automated terminal. The idea is to start manned operations in 2020 and then, with the help of Kongsberg’s technology, gradually move to an unmanned vessel by 2022. An automated mooring system is under development by the MacGregor group and, to provide additional support to terminal operations, the Kalmar group is working on the incorporation of Automated Crane Technology (AutoRMG) that will complement the integration of zero-emission operations during the vessel’s operations in port.

https://www.yara.com/knowledge-grows/game-changer-for-the-environment/

 

 

Source: http://hugin.info/134793/R/2210941/860932.jpg

 

  • January 2018: Rolls-Royce opened the first Research & Development Centre for Autonomous Vessels. This materialized the digitization of the maritime sector with a focus on autonomous navigation and the use of artificial intelligence for the operations of unmanned ships.

https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/press-releases/2018/25-01-2018-rr-opens-autonomous-ship-research-and-development-centre-in-finland.aspx

 

  • April 2018: Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg joined forces to create the first company dedicated to the development of autonomous ship operations. The company Massterly seeks to establish infrastructures and design support services for the operations of autonomous vessels and lead the land-based control centres that will make monitoring of the operations of the vessels at sea and in ports possible. Massterly was created in Norway to support the Yara project and has Kongsberg’s experience in the technology sector and Wilhelmsen’s experience in maritime services and logistics behind it.

https://www.wilhelmsen.com/media-news-and-events/press-releases/2018/wilhelmsen-and-kongsberg-establish-worlds-first-autonomous-shipping-company/

 

  • August 2018: DNV published a Paper focused on Remote-Controlled and Autonomous Vessels in which it summarised the current situation, the operational changes in terms of navigation and other functions, regulations and motivations for implementation, and the ethical and social implications of such technologies.

https://www.dnvgl.com/maritime/publications/remote-controlled-autonomous-ships-paper-download.html

 

  • In December 2018: Finferries and Rolls-Royce publicly exposed the operational tests of the 53.8m Falco ro-ro ferry, which is adapted with sensors interconnected with artificial intelligence that contain anti-collision technologies and an autodocking system which is monitored from a ground control centre 50km from the city of Turku.

https://www.finferries.fi/en/news/press-releases/finferries-falco-worlds-first-fully-autonomous-ferry.html

 

Source: https://www.vesselfinder.com/news/14008-Rolls-Royce-and-Finferries-demonstrate-worlds-first-Fully-Autonomous-Ferry

  • December 2018: That same month, Samskip led an initiative called “Seashuttle” of an autonomous Short Sea Shipping vessel, propelled with hydrogen through the use of electrolysis, with the goal of creating more sustainable shipping alternatives. The operations route aims to cover the regular line between Poland and Norway and is supplied in maritime technologies by Kongsberg Maritime; by Hyon in the implementation of hydrogen technologies; and by Massterly in terms of operational MASS.

http://www.samskipmultimodal.com/news/press-release-1

 

The difficult steps in establishing legal precedents and frameworks to ensure the safe and efficient operations of MASS still lie ahead of us. Similarly, cyber security is still a broad field that requires detailed and extensive investigations before safe passage at sea for MASS vessels are possible. The road ahead is long and arduous, but the companies that have joined these projects have taken the first steps towards developing the technologies that will make suitable adaptations possible and thus make unmanned vessels a reality.

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

Useful Links

Barcelona to host the 1st World Edition of Startup Weekend focused on the logistics and maritime world

Barcelona will host the 1st World Edition of Startup Weekend focused on the logistics and maritime world, with the support of Google for Entrepreneurs and Techstars bringing together entrepreneurs to solve the major challenges of the sector.

This event will be held during the next weekend of May 17, 18 and 19 at the new facilities of OneCowork. This edition will have the collaboration of different companies and institutions of the logistics sector.

Encouraging entrepreneurship, disrupting the logistics sector and solving major challenges are the goals that this edition of Startup Weekend Barcelona aims to achieve with its new Maritime & Blue Logistics edition in May 2019.

It is expected to bring together the 100 entrepreneurs of different profiles. Businesses, developers, designers and technicians of the logistics sector with business ideas that revolutionise the logistics sector as we know it today, networking and sharing experiences.

On Friday, May 17th, participant will present their business ideas and then the most promising ones will be selected. The objective during the weekend is to work in the business model with countless partners and specialist mentors from the sector to learn, inspire and discover new solutions.

About Techstars Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend ™ is a 54-hour event, in which groups made up of different professional profiles such as developers, business, entrepreneurship enthusiasts, designers and, in this edition, specialists in the logistics sector will be challenged to move from an idea to a product  or business. The teams will work throughout the weekend collaborating to achieve a viable minimum product to submit to the verdict of the jury, composed of executives and specialists in the logistics sector.

Startup Weekend was born in 2007 and by 2016 it has grown to have a global presence. In December 2016, Startup Weekend reached a presence in 140 countries, and more than 1100 cities, involving more than 234,000 enterprising participants. Startup Weekend is a program of Techstars Startup Programs, along with Startup Week and Startup Digest.

Founded in July 2007 in Boulder, Colorado by Andrew Hyde, Startup Weekend brought together 70 entrepreneurs to try to start a startup in just 54 hours. The model quickly expanded to other cities around the world. In 2010, Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen took full ownership and registered the non-profit organisation, moving to Seattle. After the acquisition, Startup Weekend would organize 80 events in the United States, Canada, England and Germany. In December 2010, the organisation had 8 full-time employees, more than 15 facilitators and more than 100 local organizers. In 2016, Startup Weekend is in more than 1000 cities around the world. Startup Weekend is an initiative created by Techstars and has the support of Google for Entrepreneurs .

Important startups have come out of this initiative, which today are consolidated companies such as: Zapier , Foodspotting , Hydrate or Haiku Deck

Maritime & Blue Logistics

We premiered with an event where we expect 100 participants and a team of mentors that will turn this edition into a unique opportunity to update, undertake, network and have fun. The event will be in English and it is expected to obtain an important attendance of both international and local entrepreneurs. For this edition, we have great sponsors, partners and companies that are betting on this initiative such as the logistics company Grupo Romeu , the company accelerator Founder Institute, Marinel-lo Abogados , design agency Jaimitos , ATEIA , Portic , Kantox and the Port of Barcelona .

For more information you can go to : www.startupweekendbarcelona.com

The Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport is collaborating in this event, and as such it can offer a discount of 25% to our students and visitors to our website. To take advantage of this discount, click HERE

Mediterranean ECA bid needs Spain’s support

Barcelona City Council has backed an initiative to establish an Emission Control Area (ECA) in the Mediterranean Sea (Med-ECA) to limit air pollution produced by ships and is urging the Spanish Government to support the cause.

Alianza Mar Blava, Transport & Environment, Ecologistas en Acción of Catalonia and Plataforma por la Calidad del Aire have congratulated Barcelona City Council for subscribing to the initiative led by the CleanCruiseNetwork alliance.

The initiative calls for the Spanish Government to actively support the creation, as soon as possible, of a Med-ECA covering all major air pollutants, such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides, but also particles and black carbon, to support efforts in this direction initiated by France and other coastal states of the Mediterranean.

EU coordination

Spain is also being asked to coordinate with the European Commission, with France and the rest of member states of the European Union (EU), as well as with non-EU coastal states, to ensure the creation of said Mediterranean ECA and, subsequently, once created, to support the implementation of a cooperative cross-border management of the same.

Additionally, it is being asked to urgently implement the relevant measures in the Ports of the State to ensure the reduction of emissions from ships, forcing them, once they are docked, to connect to the electricity grid for daily operation, among other measures.

The establishment of a regulatory framework for ECAs in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the English Channel has led to immediate improvements in air quality of up to 50% since 2015 and associated socio-economic benefits valued in billions of euros.

Source: Maritime Journal