Simple steps to futureproof the shipping industry


Panel of speakersSenior decision makers from all sectors of the shipping industry met in Hamburg yesterday to hear some of the leaders in the digital revolution debate the opportunities and threats faced by the industry today.

Although operating in many different fields, their conclusion was startlingly clear. To navigate successfully and profitably in the digital age, ship operators must go back to basics, steering a clear course through the data explosion to harness the benefits of the new technologies whilst avoiding their pitfalls.

Run by Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, MariApps Marine Solutions and World-Link Communications: “Solving Challenges in the Marine Industry” tested its audience, challenging it to prepare for the impending step change in the way technology is used both onboard and onshore. Experts covered an array of topics including digitalisation and computerisation of shipmanagement, the increase in reporting obligations and procedures, the threat of cyberattacks, modern and cost-effective communication tools and cloud solutions.”

Moderated by Sean Moloney, publisher of Ship Management International, industry speakers included Kuba Szymanski, Secretary General of InterManager; Jan Warmke, Managing Director, BSM Germany; Asad Salameh, President, World-Link Communications; and Sankar Ragavan, CEO, MariApps Marine Solutions.

Mr Warmke (pictured) opened the session with his predictions for the future of shipping, demonstrating how the advent of satellite communications, the cloud, ‘the internet of things’ and smart phone technology have made the move to smart shipping as inexorable as the transition from sail to steam, transforming what is perceived to be a technologically backward industry.

The panel then discussed balancing the unique vulnerability of the shipping industry in the face of a cyberattack; the lack of top level attention paid to cybersecurity; the realities of ‘big data’; the opportunities and complexities of operating amidst a data explosion; the invisible nature of shipping and the use of technology to meet the needs of the seafarer –   all in an environment of increasing customer expectation.

Solutions to many of the issues raised were proposed by the speakers. Mr Salameh demonstrated the simple steps that could be taken to develop a robust defence culture against the cyber threats being faced.

“Cyber security is a real issue we all have to address in shipping. We have to define the threat and risks and decide how we should work to mitigate these risks,” he told delegates.

Cordula Boy, Marine Training Officer at BSM Germany, showed how BSM, through its Project Pilot scheme, had adopted procedures tried and trusted in the airline industry to simplify complex procedures and improve safety and operating performance within its own fleet. By simplifying the text of established shore and sea-based manuals, the message of how to follow key operational check lists was greatly simplified yet made more effective, she stressed.

While tackling the issue of cloud computing, Mr Ragavan told delegates: “Cloud services are growing generally and it is a $230 billion market worldwide today.”

As far as shipping was concerned, “fleet and maintenance management as well as procurement and document management could be moved to the cloud,” he said.

His colleague Khalil Rehman from MariApps, presented details of the tangible differences that mobile applications can make to the lives of seafarers, while Mr Moloney looked at the bigger picture, examining the difference that the internet can make to the image of the shipping industry as a whole – providing the tools to help make an invisible industry more transparent.