Across the maritime industry, the digitalisation process is in full swing. Most companies involved in shipping, shipbuilding and related disciplines are busily investigating ways of using smart solutions to improve efficiency and sustainability, and optimise work processes. As a topic relevant to all parts of the value chain, digitalisation was chosen as the overarching theme for SMM 2018: Apart from high-tech products enabling sensor-based remote monitoring of ship operations, satellite-supported platforms and control modules interlinking all ships of a fleet are high on the agenda, as well. Mobile tracking and booking apps as well as customer portals are now being developed to streamline the logistics chain. ”Digitalisation is not the goal, nor is autonomous shipping; these are tools and ways you might develop it. The goal is maritime transport systems that meet the needs of the next generation,” says Clarkson Research president Martin Stopford.
The 2,289 exhibitors from 69 countries present at SMM will provide interested companies with plenty of choices to custom-tailor product packages that will bring their digital capabilities to a new level. “From agile start-ups offering specialised software applications, to market-leading suppliers of maritime technology offering entire portfolios of digital systems, our 13 halls and 93,000 m2 of exhibition space address every aspect,” says Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs & Exhibitions at Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH. The main focus is on practicable solutions delivering true added value to users.
Unmanned ships and printed spare parts
One of the most fascinating topics is unmanned shipping. According to the SMM Maritime Industry Report, more than one-third of market players believe it to be a realistic option for the future. A shining example, the “MV Yara Birkeland” designed by the Norwegian technology company Kongsberg will soon be the world’s first autonomous, electrically-powered container ship. She is being built by the Norwegian Fincantieri subsidiary Vard. Delivery is scheduled for early 2020. The vessel is to begin operating entirely without a crew in 2022, relying on GPS, radar, cameras and many sensors only, and replacing roughly 40,000 lorry trips per year. This is just one example of how the two SMM themes, “Smart Shipping” and “Green Shipping”, interlink.
For the world of industrial production, the “fourth industrial revolution” and the Internet of Things are key initiatives. Efficient and network-integrated process control allows manufacturers to meet customer needs faster, and deliver bespoke solutions with ease. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is beginning to play a key role, opening up entirely new options for suppliers and manufacturers. In future, things like urgently-needed spare parts for a ship could be manufactured at the next port of call, or even directly on board. This would reduce the logistical effort while avoiding costly laydays.
For the first time ever, SMM will present a special exhibition on 3D printing, arranged jointly with the Northern German Maritime Cluster (MCN). In addition to seeing various exhibitors specialising on additive manufacturing, visitors will be able to listen to intriguing lectures and watch live presentations, including those from member companies of the newly-established “Forum 3D Maritim”. The SMM exhibitors specialise on specific aspects of the 3D printing process and will demonstrate the entire value chain of additive manufacturing, from the first sketch to the finished product. The process of 3D-printing blades for controllable pitch propellers can be watched directly at the fair. Manufacturing these marine components the conventional way is a complex, time-consuming process. Using a printing machine by Gefertec, the blades will be made from duplex steel in an additive production process that is estimated to take eight to then hours per blade. “Our 3DMP process can be used with a wide range of materials. This opens up vast new possibilities for the manufacture of maritime components,” says Gefertec CEO Marcus Ortloff.
Inspiring conferences, improved guidance
The Maritime Future Summit conference will likewise explore how advanced technologies can create new opportunities for the industry. Held on 3 September, the day before SMM opens its doors, it will set the stage for the leading maritime trade fair and its high-profile conferences. Science and industry experts will discuss what the maritime sector can do to prepare for the future, and which technologies will play an essential role. Digitalisation, autonomous shipping, artificial intelligence, 3D printing: All these visionary concepts have already become part of industrial reality, as many exhibition stands at SMM will demonstrate in tangible ways. “We will offer SMM visitors a perfect mix of theory and practice,” says Claus Ulrich Selbach. “Our Digital Route guides interested fair visitors directly to exhibitors who focus on future-looking topics such as digitalisation. This means people can get a direct impression of what shipping