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SMM Hamburg – The Digital and Green Propulsion Edition

The organisers of the SMM international maritime trade fair today held an advance press conference to give the shipping trade press a foretaste of things to come when the fair takes over the city of Hamburg in three months’ time.

Several highly reputed experts joined the President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress, Bernd Aufderheide to deliver insights into current industry trends and reveal some details on this year’s 150-item programme.

The official theme for SMM 2016 is digitalisation, but the 2016 programme is also laden with ship efficiency and green technology. Green propulsion will have an overwhelming presence at the fair, not least due to the fact that the organisers have dedicated 3500 square metres of extra exhibition space in the new Hall A5 for highlighting innovative ship propulsion technologies.

The focus of the global maritime environmental congress (gmec) on 6 September will be green shipping and efficiency. A newly-created conference will be hosted the day before. The Maritime Future Summit will see software experts and CEOs of leading manufacturers of ship propulsion systems discussing the consequences of Smart Shipping and Big Data for the shipping industry of the future.

Aufderheide delivered many statistics for the upcoming fair in his welcoming address. He stated that 2,100 exhibitors have registered and the exhibition hall spaces are fully booked. He believes that this year’s fair will be another record breaker.

He also commented on the highly international nature of the fair, saying that only one third of the 2,100 exhibitors are German companies. Also, this year the SMM fair will welcome Iran, Malaysia and Greece to the country-specific pavilions.

In his keynote address, Martin Stopford, Non-Executive President of Clarksons Research Services, reviewed market developments and trends in the maritime industry. Shipping companies face low freight and charter rates, increased cost pressures and tightening environmental restrictions. In 2016 the shipyards have experienced the lowest newbuilding orders since the 1980s, he pointed out. Despite a 20 percent capacity reduction and closure of over 500 shipyards, ordering levels for new ships are well below world capacity, so shipyards and equipment manufacturers face a challenging year. According to Stopford, one strategy to cope with these difficulties is Smart Shipping. The rapidly evolving information and communications technology (ICT) has enormous potential to improve fleet operations and transport productivity. It will play a crucial part in the survival strategy for shipping, said Stopford.

On the other hand, sophisticated on-board computer technology also raises the risk of cyber disruption, data theft and industrial espionage. Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary General of BIMCO, explained during the advance press conference what risks shipowners should expect and how they should defend themselves effectively against cyber-attacks. At the beginning of the year the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), joining hands with other international shipping associations such as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), published its first cyber security guidelines. “These provide guidance in selecting and applying the necessary procedural and technical means and methods to guard against cyber-attacks and limit the potential damage, should the defences be breached” said Pedersen.

With its global standards for safety, security, environment protection and efficiency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has, for decades, been providing the regulatory framework that has enabled shipping to operate internationally. In his keynote, IMO spokesperson Lee Adamson referred to the necessity of international regulations that apply equally to all ships, and which do not permit advantage to be gained either by cutting corners or by imposing unilateral requirements.

Michel van Roozendaal, President of MacGregor, a subsidiary of the Finnish supplier Cargotec, offered quite a different perspective. The MacGregor range of products comprises hatch covers, cranes, equipment for RoRo ships and ports, systems for securing cargo, bulk cargo handling equipment for ships and terminals as well as offshore and maritime logistics solutions. Van Roozendaal gave an assessment of the current situation of the shipping industry from the perspective of an internationally-operating company. Whilst pointing out the need for being competitive and agile in an increasingly competitive and very much globalised marketplace, he expressly praised the German industry for its vigorous innovation and custom-tailored solutions.

The SMM maritime trade fair takes place in Hamburg every two years. This year it will take place from 6 to 9 September 2016.

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