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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: The digital highway

Listen to the third of three special edition podcasts produced in association with DNV GL examining the tectonic shift shaping shipping’s future: decarbonisation, alternative fuels and digitalisation


DIGITALISATION has been under discussion for the past five years, although progress thus far has been uneven. Shoreside processes have developed rapidly, but the contrast with what has been happening onboard ship is stark.

Real changes will only be seen when ships are included in the digital value chain.

Processes on board are mostly still manual and there is little in the way of analysis of the data generated by the ship. Larger companies have invested to secure the benefits of digitalisation; they will begin to reap the benefits before too long. However, it has proved a harder sell for smaller companies under financial pressure.

How to explain the advantages of adopting digital processes across the industry is the issue at the heart of this podcast. Bjorn-Johan Vartdal, digital director for marine at DNV GL, discusses the importance of implementing good digital processes.

Stener Stenersen, head of technical support Norway, explains that this digital journey began long before the coronavirus pandemic. In the period between 2017 and 2019, DNV GL brought out digital certificates, smart survey bookings, and remote surveying for the full fleet.

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the pace of this digital journey

There are still challenges to be tackled, including the wider use of data analysis, better connectivity, and the standardisation of data. A critical element is a willingness to invest in digital solutions.

Mr Stenersen explains the importance of keeping the growing number of connected vessels cyber-secure. This will become a compliance issue in 2021.

Looking over the horizon, Mr Stenersen sees more connected vessels, with improved satellite coverage and lower prices. The big change, he believes, will come with the sharing of data across the industry.

Mr Vartdal views digital processes as commonplace by 2050. This will have implications for the distribution of responsibilities for vessel operations and, further down the line, some processes will become automated. He concludes that it’s not unrealistic that some processes, and therefore some shipping functions, will be fully autonomous.

This is the third of three Lloyd’s List podcasts with DNV GL, following discussions of the journey towards a decarbonised future for shipping and the fuels emerging to achieve that goal.

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