SMM: Smart Shipping Key to Industry Survival

Despite a 20 percent capacity reduction and closure of over 500 shipyards, ordering levels for new ships are well below world capacity, Martin Stopford, Non-Executive President of Clarksons Research Services said while speaking ahead of the SMM maritime trade fair in Hamburg.

As a result, shipyards and equipment manufacturers face a challenging year, he stressed. In 2016 the shipyards have experienced the lowest newbuilding orders since the 1980s, prompted by increased cost pressures faced by shipping companies that were hit hard by low freight and charter rates and tightening environmental restrictions.

According to Stopford, one strategy to cope with these difficulties is Smart Shipping. The rapidly evolving information and communications technology (ICT) has enormous potential to improve fleet operations and transport productivity. It will play a crucial part in the survival strategy for shipping, said Stopford.

On the other hand, sophisticated on-board computer technology also raises the risk of cyber disruption, data theft and industrial espionage.

Joining Stopford at the SMM advance press conference in Hamburg on 2 June 2016, Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary General of BIMCO, explained what risks shipowners should expect and how they should defend themselves effectively against cyber-attacks. At the beginning of the year the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), joining hands with other international shipping associations such as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), published its first cyber security guidelines.

“These provide guidance in selecting and applying the necessary procedural and technical means and methods to guard against cyber-attacks and limit the potential damage, should the defences be breached” said Pedersen.

The conference also included a keynote from IMO spokesperson Lee Adamson who referred to the necessity of international regulations that apply equally to all ships, and Michel van Roozendaal, President of MacGregor, who gave an assessment of the current situation of the shipping industry from the perspective of an internationally-operating company.

 “It has been made clear today that the shipping industry must aim high today to be successful tomorrow. This industry has always had its strongest moments when everybody joined forces and embraced innovation. This spirit will be clearly felt at SMM 2016,” Hamburg Messe CEO Aufderheide emphasised.

SMM 2016 will open its doors in just three months, from 6th to 9th of September 2016. Digitalisation will be the underlying theme of all the special events. Green Propulsion will be another focal topic. More than 2,100 exhibitors have registered, and over 50,000 industry visitors from roughly 100 nations are expected to attend.