Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Tread Carefully - Digitalisation and Decarbonisation of Shipping Throw Up New Risks

Caution Needed to Avoid Unseen Safety Dangers for the Supply Chain
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – WORLDWIDE – A new white paper from classification society DNV GL has been released warning that the rush to digitalise and decarbonise shipping may present unforeseen safety issues.

DNV have been at the forefront of technologies for both aspects with partnerships in both the environmental and digital fields, this however has not stopped it issuing a cautionary note with regard to the headlong flight to modernise the industry.

The 24 page white paper ‘Closing the safety gap in an era of transformation’ paper identifies a looming ‘safety gap’ between shipping’s existing approach to safety risks and its ambitions for greater digitalisation and the adoption of alternative fuels.

DNV says the new technologies and fuels that the industry is banking on to meet the challenges of the next decades are also creating a new risk landscape and demanding a new approach to safety. If shipping is able to adapt and implement the new safety paradigm identified in the white paper, the end result could be a maritime industry that is not only more efficient and sustainable, but safer as well.

The document focuses on those twin trends shaping the industry, digitalisation and decarbonisation, and the different safety-related risks associated with them. Digitalisation increases system complexity and introduces new ways of operation and collaboration, while decarbonisation involves a significant increase in the use of alternative fuels and operations. To deal with these, the white paper focuses heavily on the interaction between technology, organisations, and the greatest asset of the maritime industry - its people. Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime observed:

“To close the safety gap, we will need a collective, ongoing effort. As a class society, we can play a leading role by acting as trailblazers for regulators, gathering expertise, partnering with industry and developing guidelines. Suppliers, owners, charterers, and yards can work together to ensure we treat vessels holistically, over the entire lifecycle, rather than a collection of separate sub-systems.

“We need to recognise how any single decision, for example the choice of fuel or introduction of a new digital system, impacts upon other ship systems, the vessel as a whole, and even the fleet. But, if we can all work together, step out of our silos, we can develop the procedures and competencies needed to meet these challenges and enable a culture of continuous improvement.”

The white paper concludes that every maritime organisation can play a part in facilitating safe and efficient performance, by balancing technology and personnel, utilising human-centric design, and ensuring the overall wellbeing of their people. Fenna van de Merwe, Principal Consultant at DNV GL – Maritime, and the paper’s lead author, himself concluded:

“If we want to ensure our industry transforms safely, we must embrace the idea that whenever we are developing new technologies, systems and processes, the end user must be central to that development process.

”Our aim should be that throughout the industry we have a shared focus that in both design and operation we are supporting people in their work and decision making. This is essential to understanding these new risks and to building the safety barriers that will enable us to realise the potential of these new technologies and processes safely.”