Being one of the first to pick up new technology before others is no mean feat in business, but with foresight and experience this is what PT Shipmanagement has done, writes Samantha Fisk.
Shipping is going through a profound step change with the advent of digital solutions that have been flooding on to the market. Patrick Toll, managing director, PT Shipmanagement highlights how shipping needs to adapt to these technologies coming on to the market and how they can actually benefit the ship management business.
PT Shipmanagement was launched in 2015 as a reaction to a need that Patrick Toll saw in the maritime market. So, using both his and his family’s interests in IT and technology, he formed the company, to do what he said that other ship managers had failed to do. “I tried to change those guys, but gave up”, he says.
There have been many attributes of what digitalisation can bring to the industry, such as better communication and more efficient ways of working, with different companies focusing on those different elements in order to bring better services to its customers. PT Shipmanagement highlights that the key point that digitalisation will bring to shipping will be better energy efficiency and without the use of external hardware such as sensors and utilising algorithms more.
By utilising algorithms and in test situations PT Shipmanagement has seen that the results through simulation are near enough the same results as what they have seen when conducting tests through using technologies like sensors. Toll opines that if the results from algorithms are practically the same as the results of real-life testing, this could see the end of sensors and external hardware in the future.
One of the key concerns that Toll has about digitalisation of the industry is the issue of transparency. Where the solutions will bring better transparency to the market, he says “too much transparency is also not good.”
If you have other competitors that are not being as transparent this will be an issue he notes, also the solutions themselves will highlight all issues and may appear to the untrained user that there is lots of issues in that company.
Also, being ahead of the game doesn’t always mean that you will also be at the forefront of the market, “We’re looking at 4.0 where most other [ship management companies and clients] are not even on 1.0 and still operate using old methods”, explains Toll about the lag in the technological advancements in the market.
Toll comments that in starting up PT Shipmanagement that one of its key aims was to spearhead the development of digitalisation. This he says has been founded on a keen interest in IT and also his fathers’ own work in IT solutions, seeing how this technology can actually make a difference to how people work has been something that Toll has wanted to bring to the shipping industry. Blending this with “the legacy of shipowners” has seen Toll build the company to what it is.
Although digitalisation is a revolutionary change for the industry with many having to adapt and learn new skill sets, Toll highlight that the practicality of digitalising ships is easy with the correct broadband connect and also notes that it hasn’t had as big an impact on customers as originally thought, due to either customers already having a similar set up or not being that technically advanced and so not having the demands for the services.
Also, the learning curve and the step change may not be such a giant leap for the industry looking to the future, as younger crew start coming onboard the vessels, many of them will already be familiar with the technology and will be able to pick it up quickly.
“It’s about attracting the right people to use the software. Our youngest Captain had his 30th birthday when he had his interview with us. We see that with the younger generation that there is more fun onboard, and they are more open when communicating with each other, which is what you need”, says Toll.
Other reviews in the Fathom World assessment of digital ship management