No ship is an island, says Maritime Development Centre CEO

No ship is an island, says Maritime Development Centre CEO

A ship should not be thought of as an island if optimal performance is to be achieved and global climate goals are to be met, says CEO of Danish Maritime Development Centre (MDC) Mikkel Hansen.

“We sometimes look at different components or processes onboard and wonder how we can optimise to make it more efficient, however, we don’t always consider that this component is part of a sub-system,” said Mr Mikkel Hansen speaking at Digital Ship’s forum in Copenhagen last month. “We have to think about how components integrate and deal with other components in order for the sub-system, the ship, to work optimally and flawlessly.”

CEO of the Danish Maritime Development Centre’s (MDC) Mikkel Hansen speaking in Copenhagen last month.

When it comes to voyage optimisation, it is possible to improve energy consumption in one area by making a small modification to a system or process, or by changing an operational element. However, Mr Hansen warns that  considering only that process or element in isolation and neglecting to consider the impact on the whole ship or fleet, energy consumption could be exacerbated elsewhere. “If one sub-system is optimised with regards to energy consumption, what happens if that’s at the cost of the ship performance as a whole?” he asked. To acquire a true understanding of the performance of a ship or fleet and how that can be improved, Mr Hansen believes in thinking of a ship as a sub-system and carefully examining how well its components and processes have been integrated.

As global efforts are made to cut GHG emissions, not just from shipping but from all transport and business sectors, Mr Hansen also believes it is crucial to consider how the performance of both an individual ship and an entire fleet affect the whole maritime transport chain. “We tend to forget that the ship is just part of a global logistic supply chain,” he said. “When it comes to energy use, we need to look at how we optimise across the whole supply chain and how energy and investments might be spent best where the highest climate affect is.”

He believes that having the expertise to seamlessly integrate new digital solutions and technologies into ships that will be operating for 25 years or more is vital to achieving global climate goals. “If you look at the whole supply chain and transfer of goods from A to B, when it comes to climate issues, we can not only look at shipping issues and focus on shipping’s impact. We need to look at the full impact. For instance, with alternative fuels like biofuels or ammonia, we need to understand the chain and use it where it matters the most.”

Mr Hansen’s overall message is that transparency, being open to learn from others, and attracting innovation from outside the maritime domain are crucial to developing efficient ships, fleets and entire transport chains. “We have to have non-maritime companies to develop solutions for shipping and we need to look more into where we can learn from and who might have the solutions to our problems,” he said.