Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Software Sought to Protect Freighters and Offshore Platforms as Duo Cooperate

IT and Meteorology Marry Up in Joint Venture
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – WORLDWIDE – Studying the weather whilst at sea used to be an art which the captain of any freighter or other vessel needed to cultivate if his ship was to make land safely, and, in some part that remains true. Today however rapid developments in technology are making the science of meteorology somewhat more precise and now, with the blending of two Norwegian headquartered companies we see firms from the IT and weather prediction sectors coming together to search for and develop a range of innovative software solutions for the offshore and shipping industries.

In an announcement made today, the companies, maritime software solutions supplier Star Information Systems (SIS) and global weather services provider StormGeo, agreed to work together whilst at the same time StormGeo has taken a 15% stake in SIS which will provide SIS with valuable funding as it continues its global expansion activities. Erik Langaker, chairman of StormGeo, also becomes non-executive chairman of SIS.

By combining the companies’ capabilities to create new software both firms believe they will be able to offer operators’ of ships, rigs and offshore supply vessels unique benefits in terms of safety, performance and cost savings by improving risk management. It is believed to be the first time that two companies with these credentials have come together to develop such pioneering products and the pair say they hope that the first products from this new partnership will be available to the market within the next twelve months.

Detailed meteorological information and decision systems already provide the shipping and offshore industries with crucial tools to safeguard people and equipment while operating in harsh conditions. However, SIS and StormGeo believe that this data becomes even more powerful when it is combined with operational data ranging from engine management to event handling and the initiation of safety measures. Per Anders Koien, CEO at Star Information Systems, said:

“For some time, we have been searching for a partner that can help us to both develop our international presence and expand our product portfolio. In StormGeo we found potential synergies in products, technology, organization, customers and geographical locations. With StormGeo as a business partner and shareholder we believe we will manage to develop together game-changing software solutions to our target markets.

“We see that our customers are facing new and more demanding requirements for safe operation from the authorities and their own customers. We also see that their activity is increasing in more demanding locations, such as in arctic areas. By combining machinery and operational performance information with weather forecasting we can help our customers to build a safer and more cost-efficient operation.”

Erik Langaker stated that the company recognised that there could be an opportunity for it to integrate other software suppliers’ asset data with its more traditional meteorological forecasting and risk assessment models. Based on this, the firm had been studying various companies that were servicing customers with its own time critical data systems and the companies’ investment in Star Information Systems should be viewed in this perspective. He added:

“The ultimate goal of our new relationship with SIS is to provide customers with an optimum decision platform for safe journeys and minimum fuel consumption. We hope to be able to take ‘optimal voyage planning’ to a new and more sophisticated level, both on an individual vessel basis as well as for large fleets servicing offshore and shipping segments.”

Star Information Systems has experienced a strong growth over the last 10 years as its systems have been implemented in many of the major shipping and offshore companies around the world. Its strategy is to continue to grow and to establish new subsidiaries in locations where customers are located. By joining forces with StormGeo, SIS will be able to take advantage of its office locations around the world - particularly Houston and Dubai - to better serve its markets.

For its part, StormGeo will gain access to SIS’ sites and network of agents worldwide. It will also be able to benefit from the SIS customer base of more than 1500 ships, as well as over 150 offshore units operating around the world. Both companies will be able to take advantage of the others companies’ highly skilled and knowledgeable software engineers who all have a deep insight into the requirements of the shipping and offshore markets.

Photo: Erik Langaker and Per Anders Koien