Telenor Satellite is a European provider of satellite broadcast and VSAT data communications services for maritime and land-based sectors throughout EMEA and extending over the Atlantic. Here Julian Crudge, Managing Director of the UK arm of the company, explains how dry bulk carriers can use technology to monetize operations.
“With the looming need to meet the 2030 IMO goals for decarbonization of the shipping industry along with an increase in the basic cost of doing business, the need to digitalize operations has never been greater.
“Certainly among our end-users there is a move towards smart routing which means they are making decisions based on a myriad of information such as location of individual vessels, speed they are able to travel, and current circumstances at ports. While this allows the shipping company to maximize its efficiency, it does rely on real-time information reliably arriving from a number of different sources. However, when handled correctly, the result is that fuel use is kept to a minimum as is downtime waiting to enter port, both of which have financial benefits to the operator.”
“But it’s not only in terms of smart routing that digitalization can be beneficial. With specialized cargo comes the need to monitor temperature, humidity and general condition of the products in transit, particularly in the case of hazardous goods. If monitoring can be relayed back to shore for analysis at head office, then the benefits of these observations move onto a new level entirely. With the ability to relay data back and forth between ship and shore, decisions can be taken and acted upon at a much earlier stage ensuring goods are delivered to port in prime condition.
“Engine management can also benefit from the numerous sensors now found onboard. The data provided by these sensors makes it possible for maintenance and engineering work to be scheduled well in advance so that days at sea are not lost to unexpected problems. Technology is also helping engineers to run vessels with greater fuel efficiency.”
“Today we are seeing many more of our clients putting in place an ‘office at sea’ with much of their administrative function lodged in the cloud. Furthermore, these companies are running video calls with members of the onshore and offshore teams coming together for meetings regularly. And with vessels sailing between different regions of the world, there is a need for robust connections that won’t let them down at their time of need.
“With up-to-date information flowing back and forth between vessel and head office, there is the potential for last minute space onboard to be sold in advance of arriving in port and new customers lined up quickly if a sale falls through again ensuring that fuel isn’t wasted and so helping the environment.”
“Of course from the point of view of the crew, knowing that they are able to get in touch with families back home is vitally important, as is having access to the same social activities as their work mates on shore and being able to check their personal banking etc. Personnel attraction and retention is at the top of the agenda for all shipping companies as shortages brought on by the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict continue to bite and the ability to offer a good internet package of satellite communications can play an important role in appealing to crew.”
“While having reliable, dependable and high-quality connectivity is the prime concern for operators, many are also looking for flexibility in the service they get. Vessels today can be rerouted at extremely short notice and so the connectivity requirement can similarly change. Companies are looking for a service that can be upgraded to provide more bandwidth or greater speed when needed but can equally be downgraded if, for example, the ship has an extended period in port.
The use of IoT on vessels and the move to greater communications has increased the need for 24/7/365 support from Network Operations Centres as even the briefest loss of connectivity can have a negative impact on operations and I expect to see more companies building redundant links into their systems in order to have added security.
“Whichever way you look at it, digitalization is changing the way that maritime operates but the changes it brings are helping to make the industry not only more profitable but also more sustainable.”