Synopsis of the World Shipping Forum 2017

The 'World Shipping Forum (WSF) 2017', organized by The Institute of Marine Engineers (India), Chennai Branch, will be held from November 23-25 at the landmark Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park hotel.

The theme of the Seminar is: "Maritime India — Propelling Growth Amidst Disruptive Technologies".

"The shipping industry is ripe for disruption and the driver for change will come from outside the industry as shippers will demand higher efficiency. The impetus for change is because new technology is now available that will forcibly demand changes in the existing system for improving efficiency. This change is being seen now and will take place over the next 5-10 years.

Caption: Technology disruption driving innovative changes

Emerging technologies are revolutionizing businesses across a broad spectrum of industry sectors already, for instance the manufacturing sector where smart technology and real-time data are used to increase productivity and reduce costs. The innovations are already seen in the automotive industry with self-driven cars.

'Hyperloop' is one such emerging technology that has the ability to transport standard shipping containers while averting many of the hassles of overbooked cargo ships/congested ports. Hyperloop uses vacuum tubes to push capsules containing cargo or passengers between locations at speeds exceeding 550 mph, reducing hours of travel time. This fast-tracked technology termed 'Hyperloop Transportation Technologies' by inventor has been given the licence to begin construction of a five mile stretch of a full-scale passenger and freight hyperloop system next to California freeway to be commissioned in three years. This will re-define logistics. The use of drones by logistics companies for product delivery could well be the future mode of door delivery.

Additive technology will also impact shipping and logistics. Additive technology is a slow process in which a printer reads a digital blue print and methodically drops building materials according to set instructions, creating a final product that's built — tiny layer by tiny layer. This will have huge implications for the supply chain. Everything from material handling to inventory to supply chain management to procurement will be impacted by these emerging technologies.

Caption: Innovative change amidst disruptive technology

These innovations will significantly have the potential of reducing costs, timelines and processes. Shipping needs innovative strategy to tackle operational issues and regulatory challenges. It needs to be competitive, environmentally and financially sustainable, and needs to harness its potential from data processing and analytics.

The concept of disruptive technology extends beyond engineering or manufacturing to encompass a range of marketing, investment and managerial processes. Innovations can be a process of change in any of these technologies. "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change".

'WSF 2017' will serve as a platform for discussion on disruptive technology having an influence on a wide range of topics connected with the shipping industry. The inspiring theme will indeed influence the delegates to vigorously participate in the various discussions.

Panel discussion on critical issues

Coastal Shipping & Inland Waterways
It offers options for consideration:

  • Substantial advantages in terms of cost and fuel savings, decongestion, provision of alternative paths and means of transport.
  • These advantages are by no means certain and automatic. The extent of these advantages vary from waterway to waterway, and some of the proposed waterways could also be economically unviable.
  • The creation of waterways needs very significant interventions in rivers, estuaries, creeks etc, in the form of dredging, channelization of rivers, river training and straightening, bank protection, barrages, locks and gates, ports, terminals and so on.
  • The maintenance and operation of waterways also can have significant impact on rivers, their ecosystems and livelihood of people.
  • The social and environmental impacts are hardly being assessed properly.
  • Much of the work on waterways is going on without adequate public awareness, public consultation and public participation.
  • There is no clear policy document that considers all the above points to chart out in examining the options.
  • There is no attempt to examine whether waterways can be designed and where the issue of conflict of interest is involved.

The Sagarmala Project

A Shipping Ministry study has claimed that the ambitious Sagarmala Project could lead to an annual saving of INR 40,000 crore by optimizing logistics. This potential saving per annum by optimizing logistics flows for key commodities by 2025.

Some of the key drivers identified are for promoting coastal shipping of bulk commodities like coal, setting up coastal clusters for bulk commodities like cement and steel and providing last mile connectivity of ports with national highways and railway network. The ministry of shipping is set to promote coastal shipping and water transportation and make it competitive to roads and railways transportation. Consensus did emerge in a national workshop 'Promotion of Modal Shift of Cargo to Coastal Shipping and Inland Waterways'.

The stakeholders were unanimous that even though use of waterways, as a mode of transportation, is fuel-efficient, environment-friendly, and capable of easing traffic congestion on road and railways, there exist many impediments in the form of inadequate infrastructure and higher costs due to multiple handling of cargo. The forum proposes to address the critical issues in a systematic manner from the end users' point of view to add value by way of recommendations to the special committee to make its final action plan based on recommendations formulated for this purpose. Certain financial/operational/technical and policy issues remain critical and vague that require further clarification before an investor can consider investing in this industry. Through panel discussion led by experts of the industry — the aim is to: change the way logistics evacuation happens in the future, savings in logistics costs nationwide for cargo handled and evacuated through seaports, boost overall economic development through ports and empower coastal communities.

Maritime Education & Training

The free market was allowed in maritime training in the year 1997 when many private players were allowed to set training facilities on a commercial basis so as to meet the huge training demand. With the arrival of many players the quality of training came crashing down with businessmen making hay with short term profit goals without any dedication to quality.

In retrospect, we can see that, free market is not as bad as its method of implementation. Allowing the private sector investment does not absolve the government of any of its responsibilities. This was not ensured by the regulatory authorities. Success in the free market in future will depend upon the vigilance of the government and the maturing process of responding to the call of the market on the part-time players. This will be analysed over a panel discussion and intense debate to see how best we can tide over the situation.

Innovative Engine Designs

As countries run low on their own natural resources and consumer goods, they are becoming increasingly dependent on a reliable shipping industry for global trade. Rapid innovation in marine propulsion during the last few years has resulted in the development of new engines that are designed to be more powerful and energy efficient. The trend towards using renewable and alternative energy sources to fuel engines has gained momentum over the last few years.

Rolls Royce has developed an engine powered by waste - derived liquid bio-methane to power passenger ferries running on LNG and the world's first fossil fuel-free sailing cargo ships being constructed by B9 Shipping. Its 'Bergen K' reciprocating gas turbine has already contributed to substantial reductions in NOx, SOx, and CO2, compared with conventional diesel engines. The latest Wartsila RT-flex 96C diesel engine design is based on the conventional RTA 96 engine, but modern fuel injection systems have been replaced with the traditional camshaft, chain gear and fuel pumps. As a result, 50% of the energy in the fuel is converted to motion. Technological and structural advances are pushing boundaries in ocean-going efficiency, productivity and precision.

Latest technology to reduce fuel consumption

Reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions are two of the main concerns of the shipping industry. From renewable/alternate sources of energy to design modifications, the industry has continuously improved its technology for an enhanced form of sustainable shipping — LNG fuel. Dual fuel engines and design modifications are being extensively explored to reduce fuel consumption costs and to find eco-friendly ways to meet stringent regulations. Some of the latest technologies that are being used are:

Air Lubrication: the air bubble lubrication across the hull surface reduces the resistance working on the ships' hull creating energy saving effects. The silver stream air lubrication system is installed on the Norwegian Cruise Line ships for improving operational and environmental efficiency.

Caption: Air bubble lubrication across hull

Propeller attachment: HHI has used an energy saving device called the Hi-FIN attached to the ship's propeller which generates countering swirls that offset the swirls generated by the propeller thus improving its efficiency.

Caption: HHI – Hi FIN attached to ship's propeller

Modifying the ship's bulbous bow: The NYK Group has made bulbous bow energy saving adjustments to a container ship resulting in a 23% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over half a year, while Maersk Lines claim reduction in fuel costs of 8% by the same method for a similar period.

Fuel Oil Emulsion Technology (FOE): FOE Technology by blended fuel solutions burns more completely and uses less fuel. Hence, emissions are lower and engines cooler, which results in lesser maintenance costs. This gives significant financial savings.

Wind and solar power: This is a known phenomenon that will drive the future.

Maritime claims — litigation and arbitration

A learned sitting High Court Judge, who is also an experienced maritime arbitrator, is chairing a session of the panel discussion on 'Maritime Claims — Litigation and Arbitration' with leading maritime lawyers and expert arbitrators participating as panel members. The session will systematically address the concerns of the industry in general and the litigant in particular. The High Court Judge will also present his views on 'Why India is not yet ready as a maritime arbitration centre'.


WSF 2017 will serve as a platform for discussion on wide ranging topics connected with the shipping industry. We attempt to find solutions to build, market, finance and manage the ships and ports of tomorrow, when the Government of India is intent on heavy investments towards development of the Indian maritime sector, ports and terminals, under the umbrella of maritime growth. The Shipping Ministry has identified Tamil Nadu as one of the two maritime clusters with scope for developing various components like maritime and ancillary services for the cluster as part of the efforts to cut logistics costs, enable competitive trade and boost India's economic growth.

On behalf of the Institute of Marine Engineers (India), Chennai Branch, and the organizing committee of WSF 2017, we extend a warm invitation to you and your organization to actively participate in this mega forum.

With your wholehearted support, we sincerely hope an eventful interaction on the various topics will fine-tune our focus to offer the participants with wonderful opportunities that are available in India to expand with rapid growth of their maritime businesses.

K. Shankar, B.Sc., C. Eng., F.I.Mar.E., Ex-President, The India Cements Ltd, Senior Maritime Professional & Management Consultant is the Convenor of WSF 2017.



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