Wallenius Wilhelmsen's newest addition, MV Traviata, becomes home of sustainability and digitalisation discussion and showcasing technology.

Digitalisation is shaping the shipping industry’s future in every aspect, whether that’s on board or onshore, taking advantage of new designs and technologies to improve efficiency and, most importantly, ensuring safe operations to protect our crew. Since the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announcement last year to reduce at least half of shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, digitalisation has been viewed as a key enabler to help maritime meet this goal. Whilst onboard Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s newest vessel MV Traviata in June, maritime and technology experts came together to discuss the role of digitalisation in tackling’s maritime’s decarbonisation challenge, whilst also showcasing existing digital solutions. Like her sister vessel Titus, the MV Traviata sets a new benchmark in terms of energy efficiency and is one of the most environmentally-friendly ro-ro vessels in the Wallenius Wilhelmsen fleet.

During the naming ceremony of the LR-classed MV Traviata, Craig Jasienski, president and CEO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen, talked about shipping’s responsibility to the environment. “We use the world’s oceans, we have 130 vessels sailing across the seas, so we have a responsibility to take care of the world in which we work and that’s the ocean” reinforced Jasienski.

“Awareness and understanding around carbon emissions has really increased over the last couple of years, but it has mostly been driven by the policy space – regulators like the IMO,” said Katharine Palmer, LR’s Global Sustainability Manager, who is leading the sustainability movement in the classification society.

“There is still a gap when it comes to understanding how sustainability equals success and what this can mean for business. It’s about truly understanding the sustainability benefits and impacts, so that you can turn these into something successful. Currently, that sentiment is not embedded throughout the sector,” Palmer stated. 

What are the most important things that need to change to accelerate digitalisation in maritime?

In terms of accelerating digitalisation in the maritime world, Vigleik Takle, Senior Vice President of Maritime Digital Solutions in Kongsberg Digital, believes “the first step is making sure vessels are data enabled and digital ready.”

According Per Tunell , COO of Wallenius Marine, another key part of digitalisation in the shipping industry is a change of mindset and approach to current processes. “There needs to be a mind shift among shipowners and an increased degree of trust in data driven decisions. Decision-makers need to realise the huge potential that lies in front of us. We need to dare challenge old habits and structures that hinder efficiency gains throughout the entire supply chain.”

“We also need to overcome the barrier caused by a lack of standardisation in shipping in order to be able to make use of all data. From the very detailed information on specific machinery components onboard to more business-related data such as scheduling, delivery requirements, pricing as well as information related to ports and terminals” Tunell continued.

How will the drive for digitalisation transform maritime?

Nikolai Astrup, Norway Minister of Digitalisation, talked about the importance of digitalisation at the MV Traviata’s naming ceremony, “the future belongs to those [shipping companies] who stay ahead, those who embrace technological change with a sense of urgency, the companies that survive and thrive tomorrow – are the companies that invest in sustainable solutions today.”

Shipping’s journey towards a zero-carbon future should not be disconnected with digitalisation. “It can offer a means of measuring efficiency and fuel consumption by providing and managing data, allowing the industry to make informed decisions about how it can meet these decarbonisation goals. It also underpins improved transparency and disclosure in the supply chain” said Palmer.

Digitalisation can “enhance insight and reducing complexity to reap benefits like increased efficiency, safety, and sustainability”, according to Takle.

Tunell highlighted the strong drive for sustainable shipping in maritime and “digitalisation is the tool that enables this through continued automation, advance analysis and operational optimisation, as well as improved planning and execution” he commented.

“Digitalisation also provides increased and crucial transparency between stakeholders. Maritime will become smarter, safer and much more efficient with the help of digitalisation.” Tunell added.

For Joakim Thölin, President BU Marine Separation & Heat Transfer Equipment at Alfa Laval Marine, digitalisation has already had significant impact on logistics. “When it comes to ship operation, digitalisation has had and will continue to be significant especially in connectivity service for compliance and in reducing operating costs.

“For example, digitalisation has made it possible to monitor vessels and help reduce fuel consumption by choosing optimal routes,” Thölin continued.