It is clear to everyone that the technological revolution in shipping is still in its very early steps. Especially the processes in the bunker industry is still archaic as some of the industry executives have already mentioned before. As a result, it is not surprising that most of the problems have not yet found their solution.
However, there are more efforts recently which are taking place in this direction and according to a recent survey conducted by Informa Engage on behalf of Wärtsilä Marine, the situation looks rather promising. Specifically, more than two-thirds (69%) of the shipping companies which took part in the survey responded that they have already tried digitalised technologies to solve some of the industry’s deficiencies that they face.
The interesting fact is that more than half of the respondents advised that the digitalised technology is a very important tool in the hands of their top management while using digitalised solutions was reported as the first strategy that the companies are willing to follow in order to solve the current deficiencies. Digitalisation does not seem to be an option only for a small proportion of about 5%.
The major challenges that the respondents have identified are related with the increasing fuel and operating cost of their ships, the market uncertainty and the need to efficiently follow environmental and other regulations, such as the IMO 2020. As a result, most of the respondents reported that their investments in new technologies are related with ship operations, while those related with cyber security and more specialised solutions (e.g. blockchain, electronic logbook etc) were chosen by between 14% and 3% of the survey participants.
However, the survey has also identified some drawbacks which can probably explain why the technological innovation is still poor in our industry. Despite their enthusiasm about the digitalisation, most of the respondents (approximately 69%) have reported that they have been moderately satisfied through their experience with the new technologies. The reasons encountered are related with the high investment cost and the unknown payback period, the lack of standardization in the industry which makes the global adoption a tough process and the uncertainty about the benefits of each technology.
To widen the use of digitalised tools it remains very important each solution to clearly outline the problems it solves and explain the benefits for both its customers and the overall industry. At the end of the day, each solution which intents to transform an industry from an archaic place into an advanced community, by enhancing the market awareness and transparency, should share the same principles by its own.