Last year, Norwegian software company Tero Marine announced the appointment of Rune Lyngaas for the position of CEO. Digital Ship’s VPO Global spoke with Mr Lyngaas to find out about his plans for Tero Marine and his vision for navigating the evolving digital landscape.
Norwegian technology company Tero Marine has been developing fleet management software for more than 30 years but what most attracted Rune Lyngaas to the position of CEO last year was the “huge technology leap and many interesting things happening at this young, dynamic company,” Mr Lyngaas told Digital Ship. Born and raised in Norway, a country considered to be a hub of technology innovation, Mr Lyngaas developed an eye for “new and interesting challenges in the maritime industry.” Having observed the evolving needs of many shipowners and managers throughout his time in the maritime industry, including seven years at classification society DNV GL, he is determined to drive a new vision for Tero Marine, one that will enable technology innovators and end users to grasp the new opportunities created by an increasingly digitalised industry.
Satcoms for fleet management
In the last decade, a boom in satellite constellations has driven IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity, enabling vast quantities of data to be collected and shared across various departments. For the maritime industry, this has facilitated greater insights into ship and fleet performance and driven improvements in energy efficiency and safety.
For Tero Marine’s CEO, one priority is to make even better use of these IoT opportunities to maximise the performance of global fleets.
“We have all these new technologies now that allow us to structure the data first and then layer advanced solutions with fleet management software to draw trends and obtain analytics from the data in a completely different way to the old days,” he told us.
By the old days, Mr Lyngaas means the low-state bandwidth and low expenditures on IT that made it difficult to fully embrace technology and data. Historically, unstructured information and a lack of standardised infrastructure meant data collection and management was chaotic. But now, according to Mr Lyngaas, there is a move to a phase where shipping has the connectivity it needs in combination with the development of mature technology to gain better insight into performance.
“This technology shift in shipping doesn’t necessarily need to be behind anymore as we have the connectivity and we are able to make full utilisation of the technology.”
One area Mr Lyngaas points to is the development of sensors and more automated processes.
“There’s a lot more going on with sensor technology today. Instead of having ship engineers running around the vessel and recording different measurements, this can be automated with sensors. The cost element of transferring from sea to shore is not really a factor anymore; it makes this more and more possible to do.”
Cost versus efficiency
According to Mr Lyngaas, technology uptake is still largely driven by cost, rather than motivation to make efficiency gains, although this depends to some degree on the shipping segment and its digitalisation demands.
“Companies might have the big satellite communication strategies in place, but they are often driven by cost rather than efficiency,” he said.
He believes that accelerating the adoption rate of new technologies will come down to a push from the digitalisation innovators.
“What I have experienced over the last 20 years in the industry is that the digitalisation innovators are the ones that are pushing digitalisation of the mainstream areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. They are the ones really driving it forwards and making the progress. These digitalisation innovators are the ones that have the responsibility to push the vendors into creating the solutions, while some of the players that are more hesitant to adapt will wait and see what happens. When they realise that there are possibilities for efficiency and cost cutting, there will already be a lot of solutions readily available for them. The slower part of the industry will then be able to move much faster as they will have a variety of different solutions to select from,” he explained.
The ultimate message from Tero Marine’s CEO is that it will be up to industry leaders to push their suppliers to deliver more advanced and intelligent technologies, which he warns could take some time.
Centralising the digital system
Another area Mr Lyngaas is keen to see evolve in the maritime industry is a more centralised digital system that will ultimately enable better fleet management. A centralised digital system generates automatic alerts when an anomaly is identified, facilitating proactive rather than reactive maintenance.
“A centralised approach enables more data and more decisions to be made from the office and the ability to extend the trends and graphs of any kind of measurement of your vessel,” Mr Lyngaas explained.
A centralised digital system also has the benefit of aiding in procurement and logistics as it enables the customer to access previous prices of a ship part across a range of different suppliers and compare their delivery times and accuracy. The result is faster and more efficient decision-making with less time spent sourcing and comparing items.
A further important aspect of a centralised digital system is to improve safety. A centralised system can distribute information and learn from previous experiences. For example, a helicopter landing on a vessel is a high-risk scenario. Carrying out a risk assessment using a centralised system will alert the user to when and where previous accidents occurred, either on the same vessel or another vessel in any given time frame, enabling barriers to be put in place to ensure the landing environment is as safe as possible for the crew.
Ship manager and Tero Marine client OSM, which manages more than 500 ships across a multitude of owners, has been driving a centralised fleet management approach to facilitate better decision making. According to Mr Lyngaas, as a ship manager that looks after many owners, all with different management systems and approaches, harmonising vessel reporting and purchasing strategies can be a challenge. OSM made the decision to provide all of its office-based staff access to the same data and applications for all of its vessels, enabling all managed fleets to use the same system.
Mr Lyngaas said that this approach “makes it much easier for OSM to transfer the information from vessel to vessel and to make comparisons on fleet performance and business efficiency. On top of that, it allows a business intelligence approach, where you can measure and monitor different vessels which you are managing against one another, giving huge possibility for improvement.”
A push for transparency
Another driving force for shipping’s digital transformation that Mr Lyngaas touched upon is the push for transparency and the desire to fully identify the risks and advantages involved in all aspects of shipping operations.
“A lot of the digitalisation and integration between different parties is coming from an increasing expectation in the world for better transparency,” Mr Lyngaas explained. “Many players are making huge financial investments into optimising ship and fleet performance and for a shipowner, a well-performing vessel evidenced by clear transparent statistics that show better performance than other vessels is essential. Negotiating port fees, for example, is much easier if an owner has transparent clear statistics that shows how his vessel outperforms potential competitors.”
Furthermore, as transparency increases and additional information comes to light, more questions are asked.
“We see the evolution of business intelligence where the more data that is gathered, the more is demanded to find answers to new and evolving questions.
“There is also a huge expectation that all this data needed to make a decision is available immediately,” he said.
Evolving digital culture
The evolving digital culture in shipping is in part being accelerated by new generations entering the maritime workspace. A connection to the outside world and instant access to information is a necessity for many these days.
“Just look at the younger generation running around today with their smart phones. They are used to getting information and updates instantly, and they interact with people around them through Tweets, Instagrams, and so on, which is really short-lived information. They are used to small bites of information where they don’t need to know how and where to find the information, they can simply just search for it and act on it immediately.”
This expectation for instant knowledge will play a particularly relevant role in the way shipping operates, Mr Lyngaas confirmed. Situational awareness is one example Mr Lyngaas drew upon, whereby those entering the maritime industry from a young age will just “expect the information they need to be available immediately. They will be taught that their smart watch or computer will tell them what to do rather than them having to go around and know what to do.”
Mr Lyngaas believes this generational shift and the demands for instant knowledge will lead shipping’s transition to more digital ways of working, both in the office and onboard. Even in just one decade, he expects this shift to be “huge.”
Bringing user experience to sea
Mr Lyngaas confirmed that one of Tero Marine’s top priorities is developing the user experience (UX) of its applications. This involves creating an experience that is meaningful to users and ensures every interaction they have with a piece of software or an app is a positive one.
“We are looking at how to better the experience by analysing every single screen of our next innovation master, what needs to be on the screen, what is too much information, how we can visually lay it out on the screen to make it more appealing and functional,” Mr Lyngaas explained.
He also confirmed that the company will put greater emphasis on mobile apps to help with mobility and being able to fulfil work requirements, regardless of location. “Those are the biggest changes that we are focussing on internally,” he noted.