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COMMENT Q LeaderA new wave


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Volume II – Issue 11 Cover Photography: Richard Gleed


S


hipping is currently navigating its way through a major depression and while lower oil prices have


given operators a temporary reprieve, I am yet to hear an analyst forecast a market upswing for the sector as a whole. Speakers at the Dubai Maritime City conference in early November unanimously declared that present market conditions are the ‘new normal’. They insisted that shipping needs to innovate to keep pace with the rest of the world. The global downturn has focused


attention on improving efficiency, thus opening the door for new ways of doing things. As with most conferences of late, a question put to the panel was: What is the next big thing… the ‘Uber’ of shipping? And is so often the case, there was a lot of posturing about ongoing investment in new technology without anyone willing or able to offer a definitive answer. As an observer on the sidelines, it


almost feels like there is a religious fervour surrounding the saviour in the form of technology, with geeks appointed the designated prophets. At an innovation day in


Hamburg, courtesy of DNV GL in October, one shipowner spoke proudly of the fact that he has at his disposal a ‘geek squad’ who are all under 25 and have probably never worn suits in their lives. “They are different to you and I –


they are always connected and prefer online chat over face-to-face conversation! You know the kind: they wear these badly fitted jeans and always have giant headphones on,” he told the gathering of conservatively dressed owners and


very least they control the purse- strings meaning that technology will not be adopted unless it is palatable to them. You can have the cleverest


invention in the world, but if no one uses it, what you are left with is a failed concept. Shipping is ripe for digital


disruption and in fact, I would agree with ShipServ’s Mark Warner who argues that the revolution is already underway (see August 2015 edition), as evidenced by the significant sums of money and attention being invested in automation and Big Data. Condition monitoring, automated container loading, robotic welding and 3D printing of parts are existing technologies that are cropping up again and again in the sector. For me, where disruption is most


needed is in the industry mindset. It must accept that these geeks are not outsiders, but part of us, vested stakeholders who are moving forward on a new wave – one that shipping needs to get on board for.


Namrata Nadkarni


Editor, The Marine Professional


03


operators that nodded along in knowing agreement. The irony of the fact that these


badly dressed prophets – the outsiders – are seen as the cure for shipping profits was one that escaped everyone there. To me, the elephant in the room is that these traditional owners are the gatekeep- ers to the shipping markets. At the


outsiders


The new generation of geek phrophets must be accepted as equal stakeholders if shipping is to truly change


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