Delegates report: for many, digitalisation’s advantages outweigh its cost


Attendees in a networking session at Riviera’s Offshore Support Journal, Middle East Virtual Conference agreed the benefits from IoT, connectivity and digitalisation are worth the investment.

More OSV owners, operators and managers say they will be investing in digitalisation as the global coronavirus pandemic has forced them to remotely manage vessels and fleets. And owners who have already adopted these technologies for their vessel operations and fleet management have reduced operating costs and increased fleet uptime.

The findings come from open conversations in a networking discussion during Riviera’s OSJ, Middle East virtual conference.

The potential benefits for adopting digitalisation can include reducing fuel consumption or increasing vessel uptime through optimised maintenance, delegates said.

Leaders in deploying digitalisation include large fleet operators with sustainability and social responsibility strategies, such as P&O Maritime Logistics, Seacor Marine and Swire Pacific Offshore.

According to the discussion, these businesses are among those that have invested in technology for the long-term benefits of lowering operational spending and improving fleet utilisation and services to energy companies.

“The key is to show that digitalisation is good for business, and in the long run will save you money,” said one attendee with expertise in the subject.

Another specialist with a major national energy company in the United Arab Emirates agreed long-term advantages should attract owners to invest in these technologies, but acknowledged there were considerable capital costs to bear, as costs incorporate software, connectivity and cloud-based platforms for uploading and accessing vessel and fleet data.

Attendees agreed that digitalisation’s uptake had accelerated in the sector due to the effects of Covid-19 on operations. Travel restrictions and social distancing has led to more remote management and demand on data access and trend analysis, they said.

An expert from a leading UK-based geostationary satellite owner said there had been greater interest from offshore vessel owners in adopting digitalisation and connectivity due to coronavirus pandemic.

“We will see faster adoption, but in the end, companies will need to make some hard decisions on what they spend their money on,” the delegate said.

As an addition, the delegate suggested OSV “owners cannot afford to stand still and say costs are too much” for connectivity, IoT and digitalisation investment.

There are many digitalisation opportunities that are cheaper to implement, the delegate said, citing examples of opportunities to work with start-ups, collaborative projects for owners with limited capita,l and incremental cost plans depending on the services owners require.