Digitalisation at sea; the role of data in maritime’s future

Andreas Symeonidis - Marketing and Partner Relations Manager - METIS

Maritime’s rapidly-changing future indicates that AI-powered digital tools will be crucial for the transition to the new age, says Andreas Symeonidis, PR & Strategic Collaborations Manager at METIS.

METIS Cyberspace Technology is a high-end technology company which specializes in the development of solutions for the digital transformation of the global maritime industry. Utilising the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, METIS analyzes hundreds of signals which are automatically stored by all crucial systems of a ship and are converted into information relating to the performance of each vessel.  With this approach, we are providing shipping executives with a clear image of the condition of their vessel in real time, while having the ability to access the history of its behavior, and most importantly, to obtain accurate predictions for vessel performance in future voyages. In a very short period, METIS has gained the trust of the Greek shipping community and at the same time has a remarkable presence on an international level.

Which data is collected on vessels in real time and what conclusions can be reached from these?

“You cannot manage what you do not measure” is a familiar phrase which highlights the importance of quantification and data tracking for the efficient management of any type of operation. With the use of IoT technology, automated collection of data related to crucial parameters for the operation of vessels such as the performance of engines, fuel consumption, the conditions of temperature and pressure, the weather conditions, the location, the draft, the route, the speed, and much more have been possible for some years now. The collection of such data enables the monitoring of the vessel’s performance in real time and is also the basis for the procedure of specific and complicated analysis.

How can the collection of data aid in the conservation of resources?
Data collection can play a crucial role in energy efficiency in maritime operations. An example is the optimization of fuel consumption through determining the optimal routes; the adjustment of speed enables the operator to minimize not only the cost, but also their environmental footprint.  The constant monitoring and conforming to environmental legislation contributes to minimizing the impact that the industry has on climate change. Moreover, the preventive maintenance possible through data analytics helps to avert costly damages.

Today, reducing emissions and carbon footprint represents the biggest challenge facing the sector today. Data is a key enabler in decarbonizing the sector, and our platform offers the most sophisticated tools to support owners with their environmental objectives.

What are Digital Twins and how can they support a sustainable maritime future?

Digital Twins are in essence simulation models, of vessels or of aliquot parts of them, which are based on AI and fed with real time data. By analyzing large amounts of data, these simulations provide important information on performance, maintenance, and the regulatory and operational behaviour of ships.  Key is their ability to detect trends and predict future situations, aiding in the decisions both on a tactical and strategic level.

What are the main challenges that the maritime industry is facing in terms of digital transformation?

There are certainly challenges, such as with the integration of new technologies both onshore and onboard. The accomplishment of smooth exchange of data between shipping companies, equipment manufacturers, service providers, port authorities and others can be hindered by closed systems and different protocols. Furthermore, as the industry is becoming more interconnected, cybersecurity is an ever-evolving threat. Finally, adjusting to the new, digital environment requires change of mindset; the human factor is crucial in shipping’s evolution.

How are Greek shipowners responding to maritime’s digital transformation?

It could be said that in our home market, owners were at first hesitant when it came to the adoption of new digital technologies. However, in the past few years change has been evident. Shipping companies understand that they must embrace digitalisation, not only to meet new legislative compliance but also to obtain a competitive advantage.  Now, Greece is evolving steadily into an important technological hub, with many startups creating innovative solutions that offer advances in operations for both vessel and crew.

What are the goals of METIS for the coming years?

With more than 350 registered ships, we are growing rapidly each year.  Our priority is  expansion internationally, whilst continuing to develop new tools and functionality.  The  future of shipping is changing fundamentally, and our evolving solutions will be crucial to support maritime’s transition to this new age.

This is an interview was given to Forbes (Greece), June 2023

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