Marine goes digital and cleantech
Marine innovation has been driven by big corporations. Now, the sector is evolving and accepting open innovation ecosystem allowing experts of various disciplines to contribute to maritime development. First is the cleantech. Second, digital and Internet of Things solution. And last but not the least - manufacturing innovations. Check the latest trends in the article.
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Maritime cleantech is renovating itself driven by state regulations. Clean oceans become a priority. Therefore substituting traditional fuel to biofuel comes in play. Currently, the European Parliament set a share of biofuel in traffic fuel usage to reach up to 10% by 2020. In Finland, for instance, the target is set as 20% of biofuel usage by 2020 and 40% by 2040. The industry, like the rest of sectors, follows the aim of being clean and zero-carbon. The aim is to find new and innovative ways to power the ship to make shipping and cruising environmentally-friendly.
There are initiatives worldwide to substitute the fuel in shipping. Marine industry is putting lots of R&D resources to find sustainable substitution to current fuel. Biodiesel is one of the options highly explored by Lloyds Register. Lloyd's Register has launched a two-year program of testing biodiesel for shipping. Meanwhile, in Denmark, Steeper Energy and Port of Frederikshavn, and Aalborg University, are working towards producing up to 100,000 tons p.a. of drop-in marine biofuels using wood.
Changing the fuels in marine means replacing the whole system, including oil tanks, engines, pipes, etc. The price for new ship easily surpasses billions of dollars not taking in account R&D costs. Finnish Vaasa-based WE Tech Solutions company has launched a wind turbine generator, which can be installed on the modern ships."The shaft generator creates all the electricity needed on a ship through the use of the ship's propeller shaft, which is powered by its main engine," says CEO Mårten Storbacka.
Stela Line in collaboration with Wärtsilä launched the world’s first methanol powered ferry. Large cruise ferry operated by Stena Line between Gothenburg and Kiel, the Stena Germanica, has been adapted for new biofuel system and engines. Now, the ship has dual fuel technology. Methanol is used as the main fuel while Marine Gas Oil is saved as a second option. 22 million euros project received 50% funding from the EU Motorways of the Seas project.
Data-driven innovations redesign cars to driverless, carbon-free and improved safety performance. Trains find solutions in kinetic energy, underwater tunnels, and enhanced consumer experiences. Airplane industry goes solar and constantly develops itself. Meanwhile, the marine industry does not seem to rush to modernize itself for digital future. However, in Finland, where the industry is traditional, there is a program aimed to create an open source innovation system for the industry.
MERIT is the project of the City of Helsinki directed to find intelligent solutions for maritime funded by Ministry of Economy and Employment. Understanding that maritime industry is conventional, closed, and not as flexible as desired, MERIT is a partner and mediator for big corporations and startups. The main goal is to boost the development and to introduce Internet of Things and digital revolution to maritime players. Ulla Tapaninen, the head of the MERIT, says that "Couple of years ago, when the conversation about digitalization just started, Maritime Industry hardly had any idea about opportunities of open data and how it can be implemented in the sector. During this two year of MERIT, we have had a number of various events, workshops, conferences, pitchings, educational seminars, to bring corporations and startups together. It was was essential to have shipping companies to share their visions and needs for development." The challenge was a lack of communication and networking between young innovative companies, who can bring digital solutions, and corporations. MERIT has successfully solved this problem with its events. The program combines expertise from ICT services, IoT technologies, and innovative mindset of start-ups.
On the final stage of the project, on November 5th, 2016, MERIT organizes SLUSH conference to bring together companies like Maersk, Wärtsilä, Rolls Royce Marine, Finnlines, TallinkSilja, ESL Shipping, Conexbird, and Industryhack, to share and open their data to boost the innovation. Digitalization of the industry, looking at the ship as at rich database, and open data policy will generate a new market and business opportunities. "Next year we are going to continue with "Maritime startup ecosystem", where we invite startup companies from all over the world in one place to find the solutions and opportunities for the industry. It will expand the local efforts to global level," says Ulla.
Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), world leading cargo shipping company, has come up with the futuristic concept of the future cargo ship. NYK Super Eco Ship 2030 is a zero-carbon technologically advanced concept of the ship. And nowadays, there is nothing "futuristic". There are plans that have an opportunity to become a reality. Let's take a look at NYK Super Eco Ship 2030 concept, which has solar panels, wind turbines, seals, equipped with smart technologies to plan the route and speed according to weather conditions, and other technological advances.
Rolls-Royce Marine leads and Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) project to create an autonomous shipping. It will change the nature of shipping industry, just like Uber, Spotify and Airbnb did. AAWA will integrate ships into logistics and supply chain generating new marketplace and cost savings. Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President says: “Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry. As disruptive as the smart phone, the smart ship will revolutionise the landscape of ship design and operations.”
The project creates an autonomous ship control system which can be controlled from the shore. AAWA exploits as an example other industries where remote operation is commonplace, such as aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration. According to Jonne Poikonen, Senior Research Fellow of Technology Research Centre at the University of Turku, who is leading the project’s technology research, said: “The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist – the sensor technology needed is sound and commercially available and the algorithms needed for robust decision support systems – the vessel’s ‘virtual captain’ – are not far away. The challenge is to find the optimum way to combine them cost effectively in a marine environment.” The future is for simple and high-tech revolution in maritime industry.
The shipping industry is getting ready to reinvent itself. Maritime sector opens its data for professionals of various disciplines to come up with innovative development. Finland, where the maritime industry is traditional, innovates sector from cleantech to digital solutions. In years to come, shipping by water will become efficient and environmentally-friendly with unlimited business gems, that are hidden today.