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SMTC 2021: Further bunkering related tech initiatives in the works at Singapore port, shares SSA

15 Apr 2021

The following interview arranged by Informa Connect is part of pre-event coverage for the upcoming Singapore Maritime Technology Conference 2021 (SMTC 2021), where Manifold Times is an official media partner. Readers can find out more about the virtual hybrid event which takes place between 19 to 22 April by clicking on the link here.

Marine refuelling operations have come a long way since the days of steamships and is poised to advance further with the help of technology, says the President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA).

“The term ‘bunkering’ originated in the days of steamships when coal was the main fuel and was stored in bunkers,” Caroline Yang tells Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times in an interview.

“Technology has enabled ships to be more advanced, and has changed and helped improve bunkering operations. So without a doubt, technology definitely has a role to play in bunkering.”

Yang, also the Chief Executive of Singapore bunker supplier Hong Lam Marine, was keen to share how the application of Coriolis Mass Flow Meters and digital technology has helped Singapore cement itself as a world-class bunkering port.

“With Mass Flow Meters (MFM) installed on bunker tankers for bunker delivery in the Port of Singapore, efficiency, productivity and transparency in bunkering is greatly enhanced,” she says.

“With digital technology, Singapore has seen its bunker volume increasing year by year after MFM was introduced on bunker tankers from 2012 and mandated from 2017.

“Additionally, the annual volume of bunkers has been delivered by a smaller number of modern efficient bunker tankers with faster turn-around time.”

Yang notes Hong Lam Marine participating extensively in test-bedding of the MFM with other bunker tankers, bunker supplier ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, meter vendors Endress+Hauser and Emerson, and various authorities including the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, National Metrology Centre and Weights and Measures Office when the project started in 2009.

Notably, the first two bunker tankers approved for bunker delivery through the MFM system were Hong Lam Marine’s M.T. Emissary in 2012 and M.T. Demure in 2013.

“Hong Lam Marine has also acquired many modern bunker tankers since then adopting diesel-electric propulsion for fuel economy and reduce air pollution, unmanned machinery space to reduce manpower, remote-controlled winches and cargo/ballast valves operation to improve efficiency, and other features to reduce maintenance cost,” she adds.

The republic, meanwhile, has invested in other bunkering-related technology initiatives such as electronic bunker delivery notes (e-BDNs), the delivery of bunker from terminals using MFM (SS 660:2020), and the verification of MFM on bunker tanker using a Master Meter (TR 80:2020) to enhance the local bunkering sector – with the close participation of SSA.

“The e-BDN is the upcoming initiative that the industry can look forward to. There are already solutions in the market and at SSA, we see ourselves as creating the awareness to the industry and at the same time, encourage our Members to be part of the digitalisation journey together as soon as we can,” says Yang.

“From what we know, MPA is also looking at a digital-base monitoring system during bunker supply. Like the rest of the industry, I am also looking to hear more details from MPA on this.

“For SSA, what I can say is that we play a very active role to encourage members to embrace digitalisation and technology. Over the last couple of years, SSA collaborated with MPA and IMDA on various initiatives such as the Maritime Digitalisation Playbook (MDP) and the Industry Digital Plan (Plan) which charts out digital solutions that SMEs in the harbourcraft and bunkering sector can adopt.

“SSA members want to digitalise and they have ideas too. To ensure that proposed solutions/plans are able to meet current and future needs, they would need clarity from the authorities on the expectations and regulations that are still evolving.”

Moving forward, Yang believes the shipping sector should stay updated on technology trends to remain relevant.

“The bunkering industry, like many other shipping sectors, have undergone tremendous changes and we can expect more developments with emerging technologies, availability of alternative fuels and emerging technologies, not to mention the IMO 2050 emission targets,” she explains.

“With such constant evolvements, it will be hard to remain relevant if one does not keep abreast of industry development or latest technology and equipment.”

Note: Caroline Yang is among panellists at the Singapore’s Digital Vision Dialogue: Transformation for The Next Frontier onsite + online live stream roundtable. The session is scheduled to take place on Tuesday (20 April) at 09:40 SGT as part of SMTC 2021.

Photo credit: Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd

Published: 15 April, 2021

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