Skip to content

OEMs focus on data collaboration amid shipowner pressure

1 November 2022

Ship technology suppliers are aiming to submit a proposal to IMO on improving data sharing to appease growing discontent among shipowner customers. The CIMAC digitalisation strategy group – made up of representatives from engine manufacturers, component suppliers, engineering companies, classification societies and universities – is developing a position paper to present to the Maritime Safety Committee in 2023, suggesting ways to make greater collaboration feasible to improve safety, efficiency and operational insight for ship owners.

The group chairman, ABB Marine & Ports head of regulatory affairs Eero Lehtovaara, told ICS Leadership Insights that suppliers acknowledge that owners expect better data services. He noted that many operators are having to find their own solutions for processing multiple data sources into usable analysis.

“Shipowners are building operating centres to combine analysis rather than get it from us,” he said. “They are the ones having to invest rather than suppliers.”

Data from ship systems can provide a holistic picture of the vessel, helping operators with everything from reducing emissions to optimising maintenance and making navigation safer. But often incompatible systems require their own dashboards and analysis, leaving shipowners to work out for themselves how to combine data from multiple sources.

One shipowner approached by ICS Leadership Insights, which already operates data centres, acknowledged that integrating ship data was a challenge, but argued that understanding their own data should be a core capability for operators. However, they acknowledged the privileged position held by big operators that can afford to invest in their own resources.

Lloyd’s Register Chief Technology Officer Chakib Abi-Saab noted the obstacles for many shipowners. “More than 70% of shipowners have less than 10 ships, and half of those have less than five,” he said. “We need to find a solution that enables smaller operators to access the benefits of technologies that make shipping safer.”

One issue is the lack of a business model, noted Lehtovaara. Companies need to invest in collecting and processing data and are understandably concerned about their return on investment. The CIMAC position paper will propose a data-sharing business model among other issues including data formats and intellectual property.