What is actually the problem with the maritime industry? Maritime transport, the backbone of global trade transporting over 90% of the world cargo, suffers of low to no profitability already for some several years; this is of course not sustainable. Furthermore, maritime transport emits about 1,000 million tons of CO2 annually, that’s about 3% of the global emission which is expected to grow. Even though we are by far the most energy efficient transportation method, we will be regulated over and over again if we don’t improve. We are too big to avoid attention. Also, there are significant waste elements in the value chain by unbundling of ships core systems, insufficient information sharing, generic processes and partly outdated way of working. No one is going to ask our permission before they disrupt us. And last but not least, maritime safety or crew cargo assets are jeopardized on a daily basis due to weak safety culture, complacency and short-termism. All the above drag down the attractiveness of the industry, however, we need to recruit the best talents from the next generation to move forward.

Potential from underperforming systems

  • Annual losses from underperforming container cargo systems in 2-digit bn€*  range
  • Average cargo utilization rate of Baltic sea multi purpose vessels less than 40%*
  • Vessel mooring system designs not fit for active sea duty e.g. 1-2% of vessel lose their anchor p.a. **

Potential from underperforming processes

  • Energy efficient vessels are not operated different than the average, value is not captured or given away ***
  • Multi purpose vessels can take up to 3 years in operation before performing acceptably*
  • RoRo logistics study showed a 500% performance gap between best and worst port*

* MacGregor research ** P&I Club *** Shippingefficiency.org

At the same time, the industry has a lot of potential from underperforming systems and processes. According to a recent MacGregor research, annual losses from underperforming container cargo systems are estimated at 2-digit bn € range, and average cargo utilization rate of Baltic Sea multipurpose vessels less than 40%. Also, P&I Clubs indicate that the vessel mooring system designs not fit for active sea duty e.g. 1-2% of vessel lose their anchor every year.  No one would accept 1-2% of the cars on the highway to lose a tire every year – why does our industry? An interesting study from shippingefficiency.org has found that energy efficient vessels do not render any higher charter rates to their owners, and neither are they  operated different than the average vessel; value is not captured or given away. MacGregor research has also found that multi purpose vessels can take up to 3 years in operation before performing acceptably after delivery from shipyard. A MacGregor RoRo logistics study showed a 500% performance gap between best and worst port in loading and turning around vessels.

To capture the value, we need to focus on the lifecycle earning potential of the vessel, not only on initial CAPEX.

All of you need to identify your key stakeholders in an early phase and involve them in your projects for collaboration before any critical design decision is made that could limit the lifecycle earning potential. It is also about building the vessels again around their intended purpose, to transport cargo. Let’s put the cargo back in the center again, because it is not about the vessels it is about the cargo – a standard design ship is not competitive enough We should also have a holistic system approach. It is no longer enough to optimize component by component; you need to optimize the systems as a whole. It is not enough to have the highest capacity on paper in theory but you need to have the highest cargo capacity in reality with the best cargo density, with realistic sea condition and actual cargo profiles.

Looking ahead, there is as well a need for a mindset change. We need to enhance the spectrum of where we innovate, because innovation for the sake of innovation itself doesn’t guarantee  impact.  Innovation cannot only be driven by internal ideas or new technology available, innovation  should be driven by clearly defined problem. Therefore, let’s start collecting the problem as well, not only the ideas. We must start to value a good problem perhaps even more than a great idea. However, knowing the problem, let’s not forget it is not only about solving them with new equipment or products; we must as well enhance and appreciate innovation in processes and services. You need to master all the elements to make impact over the lifecycle.

Last but not least, let’s look at some practical examples and how these solutions could look like. In MacGregor, we have invented a concept, called ‘Container Cargo Boost Factory’, applicable both to new and existing vessels. Core of the solutions that bespoke software, it’s designed to analyze and simulate your vessels. It means that we can simulate your container vessels several  years and rotations  beforehand, apply different design concepts, variations in cargo profiles, speeds,  which ports you are visiting etc., to understand the impact of over lifecycle on every small design decision. It is not only about selling equipment to shipowers; it includes improved process, alignment, , training, staying with the customer monitoring that you really get the business impact and your whole organization and all stakeholders are understanding how to get best use of the new vessel.

In the breakbulk segment, there is a concept for smarter stowage planning. We are taking the planning for this vessel segment from, worst case whiteboard or Microsoft excellent environment, into applying algorithms. Back in 2017, we did a proof of  concept for our customers; it was an actual vessel, an actual loading computer, it was the actual cargo available around the ports at that point of time, and in this proof of concept, we were able to get 10% of more cargo on board this vessel. We used a couple of minutes for that planning versus the normal full day of  planning. There is no ready product yet,  it is still being developed; but imagine the impact to your fleet: either you are able to carry 10% or more paying cargo or having less vessels for the same capacity.

Taking even one more step back and looking to the fleet efficiency, MacGregor, acquired in 2017 a cloud based collaboration platform which we have continued to develop, focusing on the PCTC segment. It enables you as a shipowner or operator to actually capture and analyze data from all the stakeholders that you work with along the logistics chain. Enable you to make fact based decisions – no more guessing. Run performance or benchmark report,  have  transparency across your fleet. After one year of pilot on a smaller fleet, we identified two digit million US waste that can be tackled together with a owner .

So, there is huge potential in this industry and there is lot of value to capture. It is not necessarily that we have to wait for much more new technologies,, but working with what is already available. There are going to be different ways to continue, but I think one common denominator is that no one can do this alone. We need to collaborate more, so next step is to cooperate, let’s co-create a better future!

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Above text is an edited article of Marcus Ejdersten’s presentation during the 2018 SMART4SEA Conference

You may view his video presentation by clicking here.


Marcus Ejdersten has worked in different parts of the marine industry since his master in science graduation in 2004 from the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. He joined MacGregor in 2007 as a member of company’s container ships team. Since 2015 Marcus has lead in the Group level Strategic Marketing for MacGregor’s extensive portfolio of solutions to the Marine and Offshore industries.