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DNV ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar: Panel explores challenges and opportunities in maritime digitalization

Digitalization can help shipping achieve its decarbonization goals but only if human factors are considered enough when introducing smarter maritime operations with ‘user-friendly’ technology.




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Digitalization can help shipping achieve its decarbonization goals, but only if human factors are considered enough when introducing smarter maritime operations. Technology must be “user-friendly”, so both crews at sea and management teams in port are well-equipped to make the most of it.

These were some of the key points that emerged during DNV’s second ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar on 26 May, from a panel made up of leading industry voices, who focussed on the challenges and opportunities faced by ship owners and ship managers. 

Changing mindsets to effectively manage industry transformation is essential, and we need to have systems that communicate with each other, they agreed.

The Benefits of Digitalization

One of the panellists, Caroline Yang, President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and Chief Executive of Hong Lam Marine, made it very clear that while it might not be easy to introduce digitalization, the benefits are undeniable. 

By dealing with the “low hanging fruits” and addressing inefficiencies, she was able to measure a definitive reduction in the carbon footprint – and greenhouse gas emissions – of Hong Lam Marine’s fleet.

Webinar moderator and former CNA news presenter Yvonne Chan pointed out that Hong Lam Marine received the SG Carbon50 Award from the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) in Singapore last month, in recognition for meeting emission reduction, innovation and scalability. 

This was reinforced by panellist Goh Chung Hun, General Manager (Fleet) at Pacific International Lines (PIL), who pointed out the importance of “harnessing the data” collected by artificial intelligence (AI). He said that data, for instance, “tells us when we should clean the hulls of our ships”, helping to reduce fuel consumption, optimize energy use, while also cutting ship emissions in the process. 

“Making the best use of the data we now have at our fingertips enables shipowners to better measure and manage their short-term and longer-term sustainable goals,” stated panellist Magnus Lande, DNV Product Line Director and Head of APAC for the industrial digital eco-system and data platform Veracity*, who sees technology as a key enabler in the transition to a low carbon energy system. 

(Bio)fuelling up for the Future 

In response to the question as to how maritime operations can facilitate lasting change and which smart practices can accelerate effective decarbonization, Mr Goh pointed out that PIL has already embarked on biofuel bunker trials, both for existing vessels and when introducing new ships.

While Used Cooking Oil (UCO) has been successfully trialled in Singapore, PIL is also looking to utilize an algae-based biofuel. Mr Goh made it clear, though, that LNG would continue to be used by PIL as a low carbon fuel. 

Caroline Yang was asked, in her role as President of SSA, about the use of mass flow meter (MFM) technology which Singapore has been using for five years for marine refuelling operations. 

She said this has created a level playing field for the use of smart technology by significantly reducing bunkering time from ten hours to six, and in some cases, to four hours. “It’s been a game changer!”

The moderator Yvonne Chan asked: “As a leader in maritime guidance and transformation, how does DNV support and empower ship owners in their decarbonization journey?”

Magnus Lande highlighted that DNV recognizes technology and digitalization as key enablers in the transition to a low-carbon energy system, so the company is ready to act as an advisor to all industry stakeholders. 

As evidence, he pointed to the continuing research and development (R&D) that DNV undertakes, as well as its willingness to work with the industry on testing and trialling new fuels and systems.    

DNV ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar: Panel explores challenges and opportunities in maritime digitalization

Transforming Attitudes towards Change

Moving onto the challenges involved in implementing “transformative change”, Ms Yang talked about SSA’s Digital Transformation Committee which was specially designed to “uplift Small and Mid-size Enterprises (SMEs)” and help them embark on the digitalization journey. 

She pointed out that digitalization is not an easy process and that even in her own company, there had been setbacks. “It’s necessary to change mindsets” to get staff and management onboard for the journey.

With a variety of stakeholders involved, as well as various digital platforms, it is vital to undertake effective training for all, including crews at sea. 

“I want to see crews do what they are best at and not complicate their lives at sea or in port. Adopting digitalization should be like using a smart phone,” Ms Yang underlined. 

This was reinforced by Mr Goh, who said PIL has set up a “transformation department” to facilitate the digitalization process, as well as to help all stakeholders work towards decarbonization goals.

He stressed the importance of making systems user friendly: “We must engage with our business partners and our customers to make sure we have systems in place that communicate with each other.”

Mr Lande also emphasized the importance of “connectivity” for all stakeholders, as the maritime industry embarks on digitalization and decarbonization at the same time: “Whether it is about alternative fuels or optimizing efficient use of existing fuels, we must make the best use of all the data we now have access to. And DNV is helping companies do just that.”  

Gearing up for Cyber Security

The downside of enhanced connectivity and data-driven operations are increased cyber security risks. For DNV, one of the key components in mitigating such risks is the application of human-centred design with technologies that are meant to support human performance.

Ms Chan asked the panellists how companies can be operationally and systematically geared to handle cyber security risks.

Training of crews to be aware of the risks is essential, said Mr Goh. Virtual reality (VR) can be used in training, as this can produce positive results. He mentioned that having “a global advisory group” for cyber security was necessary to both undertake the necessary risk assessment, as well as to have secure software platforms in place.  

The panellists agreed that as preparedness for cyber risks involves human aspects, it is vital to keep three key components in mind: people, technology, and processes.  

Mr Lande pointed out that all shipping stakeholders need to be aware of the “cyber hazards” but stressed that effective cyber security tools were freely available and that DNV, for one, was there to help companies handle this “very serious topic”. 

For Ms Yang, managing cyber security risks must go hand in hand with the transformation journey for digitalization and decarbonization. 

For both her own company and SSA, Yang was most encouraged by “just in time” systems which show that it is possible to have seamless deliveries and introduce more efficiencies. 

As innovation is happening constantly, Mr Goh admitted that it has proven a challenge for the industry to keep up to date and transform at the same time. 

Maximizing the use of available data to drive efficiencies at sea and in port is vital, but we must not underestimate the human factors, the panellists agreed. There is no point in having “human-centred design” if we are not effectively equipping the people to manage change.

*Veracity is DNV's independent data platform and industry ecosystem. It brings together all the key players in the maritime and energy sectors to drive business innovation and digital transformation. Today, Veracity has over 18 000 companies and 200 000 users on the platform, enjoying frictionless connection through the exchange and sales of datasets, applications and insights. Veracity is a natively born digital unit in DNV, working with global partners to grow an industry network to increase customer satisfaction through speed and automation in service delivery. It provides the means for all participants to build the future by solving today’s problems.

Note:The full recording of the hour-long webinar can be found here

Related: Future-proofing shipping: The decarbonization game-changer


Photo credit: DNV
Published: 1 June, 2022

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Vessel Arrest

Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for illegal anchoring in East Johor waters

Panama-registered vessel was operated by 17 crew members, aged between 21 to 58 years, from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.





Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for illegal anchoring in East Johor waters

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (28 November) said a Panama-registered tanker has been detained for illegally anchoring in East Johor waters on 27 November.

MMEA Tanjung Sedili Zone acting director Maritime Cmdr Mohd Najib Sam said the tanker was detained by a patrol boat at 11am at 15.8 nautical miles northeast of Tanjung Penawar.

The captain of the vessel failed to produce any documents that permission had been obtained to anchor in Malaysian waters. 

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The vessel was operated by 17 crew members, aged between 21 to 58 years, from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The case will be investigated under Section 491B(1)(L) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 for anchoring without permission. If found guilty, individuals may be fined not exceeding MYR 100,000 or face an imprisonment term of not more than two years, or both.

Manifold Times previously reported law firm Oon & Bazul LLP sharing on steps shipowners should keep in mind before anchoring and conducting STS operations in Malaysian waters to avoid detention.

Related: Oon & Bazul to shipowners: Measures to take before anchoring, conducting STS ops in Malaysian waters

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Third edition of its paper series focuses on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships; explores bunkering aspects for LNG and methanol.





DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Classification society DNV recently released the third edition of its paper series Alternative fuels for containerships, focused on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships.

In its updated paper series, DNV examined the different alternative marine fuel options and provided an overview of the most important technical and commercial considerations for the containership sector.

It explored the bunkering technology for LNG, bunkering infrastructure for methanol, and availability and infrastructure of ammonia. 

Building on the foundation laid in the second edition, which focused on the most important aspects of methanol as a fuel, this latest third edition delves deeper  – exploring the technical intricacies and commercial considerations associated with adopting methanol as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Furthermore, it provides an overview of crucial aspects related to ammonia and discusses its potential as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Amongst others, the new edition of the paper looks at the following aspects:

  • Technical design considerations for methanol
  • Commercial implications of adopting methanol as an alternative fuel
  • Ammonia's potential as an alternative fuel
  • Availability, infrastructure and ship fuel technology for ammonia
  • Major updates based on the latest IMO GHG strategy decisions at the MEPC 80 meeting

Note: The third edition of DNV’s full paper titled Alternative Fuels for Containerships can be found here.

Related: DNV paper outlines bunkering infrastructure of alternative fuels for boxships

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Tool is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering.





EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in collaboration with Arup, on Tuesday (28 November) introduced the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool, a system to help shipping stakeholders align investment decisions that support the maritime energy transition away from fossil fuels.

The tool, which is presented in a preliminary findings report – The Potential of Ports in Developing Sustainable First Movers Initiatives – scores a port’s potential to produce and bunker electrofuels while delivering local environmental and community benefits in alignment with the global temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius set by the Paris Agreement.

“Ports can play an important role in kickstarting shipping’s decarbonisation process even before global policies are established,” said Marie Cabbia Hubatova, Director, Global Shipping at Environmental Defense Fund.

“By considering the impact sustainable first mover initiatives can have on port-side communities, climate, environment and economies, resources can be better directed to locations where these initiatives will make the biggest difference.”

With close to two billion people living near coastal zones globally, the role of, and impacts on local port communities must be intentionally considered as the sector decarbonises globally. Ports can play a crucial role in ensuring shipping decarbonisation efforts are done in a way that has positive impacts on port communities.

The preliminary phase of the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool analyses 108 ports in the Indo-Pacific region according to five criteria including land suitability, air quality, renewable energy surplus, economic resilience and ship traffic.

It is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering. The combined criteria and scenario evaluation determines which ports have the greatest potential (high potential) for sustainable first mover initiatives to lead to significant emissions reductions and positive impacts in nearby communities, such as improved air quality and economic resilience.

“The transition to clean energy supply for shipping can be achieved only if stakeholders act together. Identifying potential port locations is the first step in this process,” said Dr Carlo Raucci, Consultant at Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub. “This approach sets the base for a regional sustainable transition that considers the impacts on port-side communities and the need to avoid regions in the Global South lagging behind.”

Regions in the Global South are fundamental in driving the decarbonisation of shipping. To make this transition effective, the rate at which different countries adopt and scale up electrofuels must be proportional to the difference in capital resources globally to avoid additional costs being passed on to local communities. Sustainable first mover initiatives can play an important role in making this happen by ensuring the sector’s decarbonisation is inclusive of all regions and by engaging all shipping stakeholders, including port-side communities.

“There’s a huge opportunity for early adopter shipping decarbonisation initiatives to unlock benefits for people and planet – shaping the way for a more equitable transition in the 2030s,” said Mark Button, Associate, Arup. “Our collective approach shows that taking a holistic view of shipping traffic, fuel production potential and port communities could help prioritise action at ports with the greatest near-term potential.”

The tool can be customised according to stakeholders’ needs and goals and is dependent on scenario desirability. The next phase of this work will include the selection and detailed assessment of 10 ports to help better understand local needs and maximise the value offered by sustainable first mover initiatives. 

LR and EDF carried out a joint study on ammonia as shipping fuel, and LR and Arup have collaborated on The Resilience Shift study focused on fuel demand for early adopters in green corridors, ports, and energy systems, amongst many other projects.

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 29 November, 2023

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