Top 3 shipowner challenges in 2021

23 Mar 2021
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As the world tries to navigate the disruptions of a global pandemic, the maritime industry is no different and can be seen working to put the pieces back together. Along with the hurdles brought on by the coronavirus, this year also brings along with it numerous day-to-day operational challenges. Here are 3 challenges shipowners are likely to face in 2021:

Performance Benchmarks

Shipping remains the most critical and essential mode of transport for global trade. However, the maritime industry consumes far more fuel in comparison with other transport methods, with vessel-related emissions contributing considerably to global air pollution and global warming in the long-term. Connected to fuel consumption, shipping contributes sizeable amounts of annual global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and greenhouse gases (GHGs). 

Charter company agreements may soon include warranties or guarantees that promise a minimum standard relating to fuel consumption and speed. The deal will require ships to reduce engine power from 2023 to improve energy efficiency. From 2026, ships will need to comply with compulsory reduction targets met through speed reduction or the use of alternative fuels, keeping abreast of all efforts to reduce shipping’s carbon footprint.

It is forecasted that maritime emissions will rise significantly by 50% to 250% during the period leading up to 2050. With fuel costs accounting for approximately 50% of the total operational costs of a vessel, a significant reduction in fuel consumption can mean big savings for day-to-day operational costs of vessels and fleets. 

The shipping industry is striving to reduce its fuel consumption and emissions as a result of increasingly high fuel prices and fast-forming mandatory and strict emission control regulations globally.

One proven way of improving energy efficiency is through underwater hull cleaning. The accumulation of small sea creatures, plants and algae on a ship’s hull (also known as biofouling) can weigh heavily on a vessel by increasing drag and fuel consumption. Biofouling can increase fuel costs by up to 40%, making this a costly problem. 

Environmental Responsibility 

As visitors in the oceanic world, vessels have a responsibility to look after the marine life. As mentioned, biofouling can quickly add weight to operational costs but that’s not all. Invasive aquatic species (IAS) refers to biofouling that has evolved in one location but then introduced through a variety of means into another location.

IAS has become a major threat to the planet’s oceans and the conservation of precious marine biodiversity. The spread of invasive species is now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic well-being of the planet. These marine “hitchhikers” are carried either via ballast water or on ships’ hulls and the problem has intensified over the last few decades as a result of expanded trade and traffic. This change in biodiversity can lead to severe impacts that may include:

In 2011, the Marine Environment Protection Committee and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Member States established the first biofouling guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling. The Biofouling Guidelines include: 

In 2017, the IMO initiated the GloFouling Partnerships program. This plan aims to build capacity in developing countries to implement the Biofouling Guidelines and protect marine ecosystems.

Although many underwater hull cleaning methods can remove biofouling, they release the harmful organisms into the ocean where they are still able to lurk in unknown waters. HullWiper’s innovative remotely operated vehicle (ROV) uses an onboard filter system, capturing removed fouling and disposing of it onshore in an environmentally and port-approved manner.

With operations bases in Dubai including key locations across the Middle East, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Spain, Egypt, Australia, Panama, and Mauritius and Namibia, ship owners and operators can proactively manage the effects of hull fouling to keep in line with regulations and reduce costs with HullWiper. 

Technological Evolution

Much like the rest of the world, technological advances are changing in the shipping industry. Technologies such as machine learning, robotics, AI, drones, cloud-based software, augmented reality and so much more are already being put to use to create more efficient, productive and safer environments to carry out maritime trade. 

The widespread increase in digitalisation has the potential to guide shipping processes in the future by helping with complex logistics, supply chain and asset management. These are the top three ways technology is changing the shipping industry:

Read more about these technological shipping trends here.

While consumerism continues to grow, so too do the demands of transport goods industries. As the digital revolution takes over and easy access to the internet becomes the norm, suppliers are able to access numerous quick and cost-efficient solutions at the click of a button. 

Luckily, by placing sustainability at the forefront and keeping up to date with the ever-changing, growing demands of global trade, ship owners and operators can remain relevant, offering solutions that can meet the needs of markets.