In the process of the transition from the navigation area to the e-navigation are, we may identify three different types of companies: The first one is the innovative companies, which makes things happen. The second type of company is the one that sees what happens. And the third type is the one that wonders what happened. World is changing. Every business sector and the industry will go through digitalization—if not now, soon. It will bring changes to existing business models and offer new opportunities worldwide.

Ship equipment maintenance, for instance, is often done at fixed intervals or once equipment fails to operate. Remote asset management allows land-based service teams to assess the situation before extra costs occur. Furthermore, sharing vessel asset information in a cloud service enables effective fleet management of even very small freight and passenger fleets. New information will adjust vessel speed and routes, reduce cost; and bring considerable savings. Cruise passengers will have mobile applications to serve their needs both on sea and land. Communication between land and sea will increase dramatically in the years to come.

Shipping has changed a lot over the last decades; efficiency and profits are some of the main driving forces. The result is special type of vessels for individual needs and trading pattern. However, there are no less assignments for the navigators on board, rather more tasks to be done for a reduced number of crew. A navigator today is more an administrator.

The change has also come to the navigation and the operations of the vessels, either big or small. The rising administrative burden has taken much of the bridge officers’ time as less time is spent on navigating and much more is spent for paper-shuffling and box-ticking. Less crew results in demands for smarter and more effective ways of handling ship operation, navigation information and voyage planning. Therefore, the question is how we can the new technology contribute to make operations easier for both navigators, superintendents and other stakeholders involved in the ship operation. Digitalization will make life easier for navigators, and safer, clearer and more efficient for ship-owners and operators.

As far as it concerns the transition from paper to digital, it is time to take advantage of the intelligent and fast evolving maritime- Information and Communications Technologies network. ICT will drive e-Navigation and by using the latest technology, NAVTOR has simplified tasks, increased efficiency and improved operations to make life easier and safer, clearer and more efficient for navigators and ship-owners.

More users will enter into the world of e-Navigation due to the ECDIS Mandate. Of 50.000 SOLAS vessels due to the IMO mandate, approximately 50% must be equipped with ECDIS within 2018. What about the rest? In the future ECDIS will be onboard the majority of vessels in the SOLAS fleet, both within and without the mandate due to its efficiency. The individual shipping or management company has to choose its own ECDIS strategy and different brand of maker as well as the policy of going total paperless or add a minor portfolio of paper charts.

My recommendation is to go for a supplier of an ENC service that is compatible with all makes of ECDIS. This proves a real advantage for ship-owners with multiple ECDIS brands across their fleet.  Compared to paper charts and publications approximately 85% is available in digital format today. We still miss some areas of ENC coverage as well as some publications that are not available in digital format. However, as digitalization will continue, in near future all needed chats and publications will be available in digital version. Hence your company must select your own strategy with regards to e-Navigation implementation, whose provider is to prefer and offer the most convenient way of installing, licensing and updating digital charts and publications?

A portfolio management system that comes with the ENC subscription shall be used by the navigators on-board and for the office personnel ashore to manage the ENC portfolio, to have full control over cost of ENC at all time, to monitor the vessels planned route and actual track and also for access to printout of subscriptions certificates for Vetting and PSC.

E-Navigation is a Strategy developed by IMO to bring about increased safety of navigation in commercial shipping through better organization of data on ships and on shore, and better data exchange and communication between ships and the ship and shore. The future of e-navigation is a reality today. The challenge is to utilize of the development, the technology and the know-how to meet your business goals, being more effective and profitable.


Above article is an edited version of Mr. Willy Zeiler’s presentation during the 2016 SMART4SEA Forum

Please click here to view his video presentation

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.