Europort Tackles Shipping’s big issues
Shipping’s data revolution, its environmental responsibilities and its continuing reliance on ‘the human factor’ will be the focus of attention as the eyes of the maritime world turn once more to Rotterdam between 7th-10th November 2017, for the staging of the long-established, and always well-supported Europort event.
Organised by Rotterdam Ahoy, Europort is the highlight of the maritime exhibition calendar in 2017, with a finely crafted programme expected to attract an estimated 30,000 visitors and 1,100 exhibitors.
The Europort exhibition team has chosen three highly topical themes for the event this year. These are: Big Data; The New Environmental Age; and The Human Factor. Raymond Siliakus, Exhibition Manager, says: "Each of these themes is very different, but all three come together to drive forward the event's overarching aim - to help maximise vessel performance - and as such will have an increasingly important role in shaping the world of shipping and shipbuilding over the months and years ahead. We have selected these three very current themes to ensure that attending Europort will be a hugely rewarding and valuable experience, with benefits extending well into the future for those visiting and exhibiting."
Many leading technology suppliers, shipbuilders and shipping companies are exploring the scope of using Big Data methodologies to develop 'smart ships' that will be safer, more efficient and cost effective. As an illustration of the trend, last year the world's biggest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries, joined forces with tech giants Microsoft and Intel to develop smart shipping software solutions that are expected to yield benefits in terms of crew wellbeing, technical inspections, equipment maintenance and voyage information recording.
Furthermore, Rolls-Royce, whose subsidiary MTU will be exhibiting at Europort, recently formed a strategic alliance with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland to develop the first generation of remote and autonomous ships, while another exhibitor, Lloyd’s Register, acquired Big Data company Real Time Adaptive Maintenance Optimisation (RTAMO) and plans to roll out its software to commercial shipping.
Europort will provide a showcase for new generation IT and system integration tools, ultra-sensitive monitoring, condition-based maintenance, fleet performance management and other types of data analysis needed to help owners and operators enhance cost efficiency and reliability. "If you are involved in Big Data and are targeting the maritime sector, then Europort 2017 is the place to be," adds Siliakus. The popular Europort Masterclasses will be returning this year and there will be daily Masterclasses specifically targeted at this theme.
International regulations continue to drive the development of environmentally friendly technology. The entry into force later this year of IMO's Ballast Water Convention will require major investment in ballast water technology, both in new ships and as retrofits. The IMO cap on fuel sulphur content is also due to enter force in 2020. Both developments will require the evaluation of available technologies to ensure compliance.
Europort’s focus this year will not simply be the solutions aimed at compliance, but those providing a competitive advantage, with exhibits to include alternative fuels, high tech coatings and solar cell systems. As Siliakus points out: "The underlying message will be clear. Clean and efficient shipping is central to a profitable and sustainable business model."
A special conference on Alternative Ship Power & Propulsion Systems, organised by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), will be held on November 8th. This will examine the current use of alternative fuels in shipping and how to embrace the challenges of designing cleaner, lower carbon emission vessels.
Remaining competitive today in the maritime industry also relies on having a skilled and motivated workforce, able to innovate and operate efficiently. Europort will provide a forum for a well-timed discussion on the importance of investing in human capital, with the opportunity to engage with academic institutions and training bodies on how to attract and retain the younger generation.
Many believe the maritime industry is facing a workforce crisis, with a lack of younger seafarers to fill the gaps left by the retirement of an ageing workforce, putting marine companies under renewed pressure. The U.K. Department for Transport (DFT) predicts a shortfall of around 3,500 deck and engineering officers by 2021 in the UK alone, while the BIMCO / ICS Manpower Report suggests there could be a worldwide global shortfall of 147,500 officers by 2025. This shortfall in human resources is evident not just in the deep-sea segment, but across the maritime industry, where specialists and technical staff with very specific areas of expertise are required, as shipping moves to embrace robot technology, automation and advanced data capture tools, among other advanced technologies.