Corporation Proposes Smart Marine Ecosystem for Improved Efficiency

vessel-as-a-service marine Wärtsilä
Wärtsilä’s proposal for a Smart Marine Ecosystem. Credit: Wärtsilä

Finnish marine and energy equipment manufacturing corporation Wärtsilä is proposing a “Smart Marine Ecosystem” that combines shared capacity, big data analytics, intelligent vessels, and smart ports to improve efficiency in the shipping industry.

The corporation sees the new ecosystem as a way to address waste in the form of overcapacity, inadequate port-to-port fuel efficiency, and time spent waiting entering ports and other high-traffic areas.

“In the future, we shall be looking more holistically at customer business operations,” Pierpaolo Barbone, president of Wärtsilä Services said in an announcement about the Smart Marine Ecosystem. “Instead of optimizing a single vessel, we may be optimizing a fleet, or even the customer’s business. In the long term, vessel-as-a-service becomes the ultimate means of providing asset and lifecycle management services.”

Wärtsilä calls out four main areas that the company’s leaders say will reshape the shipping industry: shared capacity to improve fill rates and reduce unit costs, big data analytics to optimize operations and energy management, intelligent vessels that enable automated and optimized processes, and smart ports for smoother and faster port operations.

Such a transformation sounds particularly challenging, especially at a time when shipping industry leaders are grappling with global energy policy and decarbonization. However, Wärtsilä’s leaders say they have already made steps toward making the Smart Marine Ecosystem a reality.

In September, Wärtsilä collaborated with a vessel owner to successfully control the ship remotely via a satellite located nearly 5,000 miles away. Another example is the Wärtsilä HY, which the company calls “a fully integrated hybrid power module combining engines, an energy storage system, and power electronics optimized to work together through a newly developed energy management system.” In addition, Wärtsilä offers wireless charging for battery-powered vessels.

Elsewhere in the shipping industry this year, Rolls Royce launched an energy management system this year to help ship owners reduce energy use, fuel consumption, and operating costs. Ships have been retrofitted with battery energy storage systems and converted to liquefied natural gas propulsion. Over the summer, a shore power solution for ships docking at the Port of Montreal is allowing them to shut off their diesel engines. If we can have smart cities, smart seas might not be far behind.

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