In October, Anglo-Eastern agreed with Wärtsilä on a programme to digitalise its global fleet of more than 600 vessels in what was one of the maritime industry’s largest digitalisation deals ever. What does this mean for the sector?
It took two long years for Hong Kong-based ship manager Anglo-Eastern and its technology partner Wärtsilä to agree on the right path for digitising the Anglo-Eastern fleet, but the programme the two firms developed is a game-changer for the maritime industry. The solution supports full voyage planning and execution as well as engine performance and fuel-efficiency monitoring.
“It is a lighthouse deal. We deliver our solution to 600 vessels managed by AESM, but there are 60 ship-owning companies behind Anglo-Eastern as the ship management company. That makes it very important and valuable,” says Kay Dausendschoen, Solutions Manager, Wärtsilä Marine. “It will have a multiplier effect. These owning companies are already asking us, ‘I have half of my fleet with Anglo-Eastern, can I also apply Wärtsilä’s solution to all my other vessels?’ So, the deal with Anglo-Eastern is a door to a much larger pool of potential customers.”
This multi-year milestone deal puts the focus on Wärtsilä’s Fleet Operation Solution (FOS). FOS integrates individual processes that are otherwise separate from each other. It enables voyage planning, weather routing, ship-to-shore reporting and fleet performance management to reduce fuel consumption and takes into consideration charter party compliance and speed management, as well as the condition of the hull, propeller, and engine.
“We are keen to leverage the advantages of the latest digital solutions to maximise the efficiency of our voyages and the performance of our fleet. Realising the opportunities made possible by the Wärtsilä Fleet Operations Solution, we look forward to contributing to the further development of the solution as an early adopter,” says Capt. Bjorn Hojgaard, Chief Executive Officer of Anglo-Eastern.
Wärtsilä’s FOS is based on the connected Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). This equipment is already mandatory on every ship, but the Wärtsilä FOS gives it a new and more significant importance. FOS is the common platform that integrates a connected ECDIS with a ship’s planning station via cloud computing, machine learning, data analytics, and mobile applications.
“Fleet Operations Solution is exactly what we mean when we, at Wärtsilä, talk about utilising a Smart Marine approach to raise efficiencies, improve safety, and reduce the carbon footprint of shipping. We are excited to be bringing these benefits to the 600 vessel Anglo-Eastern fleet over the coming 12 months,” says Torsten Büssow, Managing Director of Wärtsilä Voyage Solutions/Transas.
A recent trial of Wärtsilä FOS by Danish Shipping company J. Lauritzen A/S estimated that fuel worth USD 15,000 can be economised in just one voyage of one ship. Apart from fuel savings, there are several other touch points for savings, such as reduced friction between maritime stakeholders that help improve operations, reduce emissions, increase safety, and reduce crew workload.
For example, a ship owner and a charterer can close chartering deals with increased transparency, thereby reducing potential claims. FOS leads to better closure of commercial deals based on the ship’s performance as well as a reduced risk of financial burden for the owner, since it provides early warnings of situations such as violations of charter party agreements.
“Better connectivity is a game changer for us,” says Dausendschoen. “In the past, the connection bandwidth and overall connection between ship and shore was extremely limited. Connectivity for the merchant market was a very big problem because of bandwidth. Now that we have it, there are a lot of possibilities including data transfer between ship and shore.”
The deal with Anglo-Eastern raises the bar for more transparency and efficiency in the maritime sector. It enables different stakeholders like ports, ship owners, and ships to plug in to one common platform to share or exchange data on a real-time basis. For example, it allows ports to connect with vessels via ship traffic control solutions to better manage arrival times. So, if all the berths in a port are occupied, FOS could share relevant information like the expected time of arrival with approaching vessels. That in turn enables ships to adjust their speed and operations, leading to fuel savings and lower emissions.
In some ways, FOS brings the shipping industry closer to achieving the same fleet management efficiencies as the aviation sector.
“If you look at aircraft, they have a slot system where the arriving airport already tells the departing airport when your arrival slot will be. It’s kind of a similar approach. However, in the maritime industry it’s a bit more complicated and very hard to implement because there is very little standardisation and sometimes conflicting interests among stakeholders,” explains Dausendschoen.
He adds, “there are too many stakeholders and all very different from each other. Ports are different from each other, vessels are very different, etc. Low standardisation is one of the reasons why the maritime sector is lagging behind. Fortunately, we have technology as an enabler so it’s possible to do it now.”
Experts agree. As a ‘new normal’ characterised by increased market volatility, fluctuations in trade, geopolitical and environmental risk emerges, ship owners and operators will have to rely on smart solutions like FOS to stay afloat. The deal between Anglo-Eastern and Wärtsilä is a giant leap in this new direction.