The Maritime Standard staged the fourth in its groundbreaking and increasingly popular webinar series, Covid 19: A Leadership Perspective, last Wednesday 17th June. The theme once again was the impact that the pandemic is having on the maritime industry’s take-up of digitalisation, building on the huge amount of interest generated by the previous webinar, which also looked at digitalisation and business transformation.
Webinar moderator, TMS editor Clive Woodbridge says, “This time the emphasis shifted from strategic considerations to more practical solutions and innovations and the need for greater industry cooperation and collaboration was one of the main themes. The maritime sector has come a long way in a short time, taking full advantage of digital investments made pre-pandemic. But it was evident from the discussion that companies and organisations need to work together more, to achieve greater standardisation and break out of silo-based working practices to secure maximum benefits going forward.”
With a virtual audience of around 500 listening in from the outset, the webinar looked more closely at the port sector this time around. Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, CEO, Maqta Gateway pointed out that while the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation, Abu Dhabi Ports, its parent, was already able to operate completely online, which it is now doing during the pandemic. She added, “We were ready for the pandemic in terms of technology and that has been a big benefit. We are now working to see what more we can do.”
Hans-Christian Mordhorst, Chief Operating Officer, of Marcura Group, which has lengthy experience in digitalising the ports disbursement process, underlined the positive impact of Covid-19 in accelerating the trend to remote working, something he said was already in his company’s DNA. “Not having people from different disciplines and departments working alongside one another means there is going to be a significant need for digital solutions to enable in-house knowledge sharing,” he suggested.
The important role of classification societies in a digital context was highlighted by SV Anchan, Chairman, Safesea Group. “The ability of class to accept digital proofs has helped keep our vessels afloat by avoiding the need for physical attendance,” he said. DNV GL’s Regional Head, Marine Advisory, Dr Shahrin Osman pointed out that remote surveying was becoming the norm, with DNV GL now having over 15,000 remote surveys under its belt, and e-certification moving more to the cloud. “Digitalisation is not new, in reality. But there is no doubt that our earlier investment in digital initiatives is paying off in the pandemic,” he added.
Bahri is another well-established digital pioneer within the shipping industry and Khalid Alhammad, Director Fleet Management, Bahri Ship Management, underscored the tangible advantages that the company’s in-house development of innovative software solutions had generated. “Everything is working perfectly. The only limit is our imagination,” he suggested.
Chris Peters, CEO of Tristar-Eships, described how digitalisation had enabled one of its vessels to postpone a planned drydocking in partnership with class, thanks to digitalisation, while the company had also just taken delivery of a new vessel from a South Korean shipyard. “This was the first time for us that a vessel closing had taken place by video link,” said Peters. “It is encouraging that documentary and other legal processes could be carried out without the physical presence of signatories, and our new ship was handed over in June this year still right on schedule despite everything that has taken place.”
Sponsored by Abu Dhabi Ports, ADNOC L&S, JM Baxi Group, Marcura Group and Safesea Group, the webinar was watched by an international audience, many of whom submitted interesting and demanding questions for the panelists to answer in a special ‘Question Hour’ during the event.
The Maritime Standard will be staging a fifth webinar in the series on Wednesday 8th July. This will assess the impact the pandemic has had on finance issues. For more information go to: https://www.themaritimestandard.com/tms-webinar/