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Race for the Finnish Line

Smarter Ships and Suistanable Maritime Operations Safeguard Competetive Edge for the Future - but Quality Project Managemet Is Still King

article picture: Race for the Finnish Line

photo: MERIMA OY


The vision of the Finnish maritime industry is to make every ship smart by 2025. By applying digital technology, the marine cluster has vast opportunities to e.g. raise the level of safety in maritime operations and support sustainable transport at sea.

The marine prowess is, of course, is linked to the digital development of the surrounding society. Finland is already a global forerunner in developing digital solutions with world-leading capabilities in artificial intelligence, sensoring and wireless technology – and during the 2020’s, the e-volution should only increase its momentum.

The track record so far is pretty solid: for example, in 2017, the Digital Economy and Society Index ranked Finland as the EU’s second most advanced digital economy. The companies in the Finnish marine cluster have both the experience and the expertise to steer the global industry into the future.

DELIVERING THE GOODS

Elina Andersson, Secretary General of the Finnish Marine Industries, says that the competitive edge of the Finnish maritime has a lot to do with perfecting the processes:

kuva
photo: DELTAMARIN LTD

“We have real project management excellence in the industry. This means that even big and demanding projects are able to finish on time – which is something that the customers have really come to depend on and appreciate,” she says.

The other thing Andersson mentions is the decades-long culture of working together to achieve the best results. “Collaboration in the marine industries has always been of great importance, and the role of broad cooperation has only increased recently,” she believes. As the Finnish marine cluster features around 1,000 companies – big and small, from all around the country – this really is a remarkable ecosystem with a dynamic mindset.

“From this ecosystem, we see that new startups are emerging, bringing forward innovations which benefit the entire industry,” she adds.

DIGITAL DEPTH

Presently, competitiveness arises from e.g. rapidly developing digital technologies which are connecting people and machines in novel ways, minimizing human error and providing new revenue and value-adding opportunities. Digitalization leads to more efficient operations, user friendliness and effective, streamlined services.

Naturally, part of this digital transition is automation – in forms that may surprise you. For example, the world’s first autonomous and remotely controlled ferry journeyed from Turku, Finland, to a Finnish archipelago destination in December 2018. Developed by Finnish companies, the new technology aboard the ferry is showing, in part, the way of the future for autonomous vessels.

Autonomous shipping is attractive from the point of view of the global players, since it tends to increase safety and makes the shipping business more economically viable. Digital connections allow the ship to be steered from a land-based control room, while a captain can take over under demanding circumstances.

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photo: VALMET

DECARBONIZING THE SEAS

And then there is the sustainability angle. Finnish companies have gained a global reputation for creating smart, green innovations: among these are advanced energy management and fleet performance systems which reduce emissions and increase fuel savings.

Luxury cruise ships, for example, benefit from technology that allows them to sail into waters with strict emission limits or journey into fragile ecosystem areas. It is no coincidence then that 60% of all the world’s largest luxury cruise ships are designed in Finland (and one third were built by Finnish shipyards) – the cruise lines are gravitating towards greener ships and nobody has a better reputation in this regard than the Finns.

BLUE GOES GREEN

The shipping industry will go increasingly green, once the EU’s Green Deal policy really gets going. In December 2019, SEA Europe – the Shipyards’ and Maritime Equipment Association of Europe – welcomed Green Deal as a very ambitious political engagement in support of a climate neutral society by 2050.

SEA Europe noted that the Green Deal for Europe offers “interesting challenges and great opportunities” for Europe’s shipyards and maritime equipment industry. In addition, it will allow the sector to enhance its global competitiveness, whilst contributing in fulfilling the Commission’s targets and in building a sustainable “blue economy” for Europe.

By: Sami J. Anteroinen

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