As 2022 commenced and New Year resolutions will now start to turn into actions, we can say with certainty that making substantial progress in the green transition of global trade will be, once again, one of the top priorities for shipping companies, institutions, and stakeholders for the year ahead, says Søren Meyer, CEO at ZeroNorth.
The next twelve months will be pivotal in the industry’s efforts to decarbonise operations, not least because of mounting pressure for change from regulators, customers, and stakeholders from outside of the sector.
The importance of the climate emergency and the level of urgency of both internal and external expectations for change leave no time to wait. While new energy sources such as future and low carbon fuels are a valid and exciting option to decarbonise the global fleet, there is still a very long way to go in the development of these fuels to scale them, reduce their cost and make them a commercially viable alternative.
However, the scale of the challenge to reduce emissions requires action now, and very few solutions can genuinely enable immediate action. Chief amongst these is the more intelligent use of data or, in other words, owners and operators using a resource they already have to ensure they aren’t ‘leaving money on the table’.
This is because technology and data can help unlock and underpin more intelligent decision-making, which is an immediately achievable first step towards realising greater sustainability outcomes. It is fantastic to see that the market’s increasing recognition of this reality has led to a greater level of interest and adoption of data-driven technology in the shipping sector.
The last few years have proven that, as the maritime digital transformation accelerates, technological advancement is also accelerating. Today’s integrated platforms can have a tangible, immediate and measurable positive impact on revenue and emissions, enabling owners and operators to base decisions on the reality that their vessels face.
Shipping now has access to a large well of data, spanning vessel performance, weather, market rates and fuel prices, to mention a few. The trick is turning this data into meaningful action. In other terms, our industry’s challenge is about turning ones and zeros into dollars and cents.
Data can be turned into a true commercial differentiator and driver, and we will collectively begin to find more diverse use cases for shipping’s data asset, unlocking greater cumulative cost and efficiency savings. These cost savings can be used in many ways, including being injected back into a business or freeing up room to invest in R&D and other efficiency solutions. Digital solutions therefore accelerate and ease the industry’s transition to a low-carbon future immediately.
In order to achieve these operational and cost efficiencies, however, our industry needs innovators and first movers that are willing to approach the challenges the market faces by offering data-led, accessible, user-friendly technology solutions that extend beyond the shipping sector to incorporate the wider logistics and transportation supply chain. Only this approach will enable companies to act as a catalyst for change and to make global trade green.
Our recent acquisition of ClearLynx online platform for the bunker fuel market, is an example of our efforts to create a single destination for voyage, vessel, and bunker optimisation which can directly support and enable the decarbonisation transition within the marine value chain.
Consider just one example of where technology can support the industry not only to decarbonise but to advance operations, such as integrated and advanced weather routing. Weather routing on every voyage is an achievable advantage which prioritises the safe and efficient operation of every vessel on the world’s oceans. But now, several technologies can enable owners and operators to not only “manage” the weather, but proactively take advantage of it. This is all possible because integrated technologies can consider vessel and ocean factors in real time, meaning that voyage plans can evolve, and measure dollar and CO2 impact in real time.
Shipping companies have finally come to terms with the fact that, in order to drive real change, they must align decisions around both profit and planet. Digital technologies provide them a means of doing this and will proactively contribute to shaping the future of shipping. The time to act is now, because the decisions that are taken today will generate returns in the immediate term and set the industry up for success in the future. The alternative – inaction and delay – is not an option.
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
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