Accelerating digital transformation requires close collaboration across the maritime eco-system

Shipping containers in a dockyard
ABB’s VP for Digital Customer Solutions, Cristian Corotto discusses working with KONGSBERG as well as the acceleration of digital transformation across many businesses in 2020.

On August 26, ABB Turbocharging and Kongsberg Digital combined their efforts to speed up digitalization in shipping companies. Kongsberg’s digital infrastructure will help deliver ABB’s digital solution, Tekomar XPERTengine performance monitoring and diagnostic software. We spoke to ABB’s VP for Digital Customer Solutions, Cristian Corotto, to find out more about the deal as well as the acceleration of digital transformation across many businesses in 2020.

What does this agreement entail and why is it important for customers?

The combination of our strengths will support shipping companies’ decision-making, enhance their efficiency and also help broaden their strategic view. We have software – notably, an engine performance optimization solution which allows customers to evaluate the performance of their engines, providing recommendations to improve their performance and reduce emissions. For that software to reach its full potential, it’s important to gather and process data from ships’ engines instantly and automatically.

KONGSBERG is a leader in infrastructure for marine applications. It’s analogous to an internet service provider (ISP) for your home wi-fi – channelling all sorts of data from around the world into and out from your house to the different devices you own.

But whereas there are standards for internet communications, in marine those standards don’t exist. Different service providers must create their own communications chains, which don’t function in a compatible way – almost as if, at home, you had to have a different ISP for your iPad and for your computer. Working with Kongsberg helps reduce this duplication of efforts, increases what customers can achieve with their data, as well as simplifying operational tasks and reducing costs for them.

Virtual signing ceremony with Hege Skryseth, President of Kongsberg Digital and Cristian Corotto, Vice President Digital Customer Solutions, ABB Turbocharging. Virtual signing ceremony with Hege Skryseth, President of Kongsberg Digital and Cristian Corotto, Vice President Digital Customer Solutions, ABB Turbocharging.

A broader point here is that companies providing digital services to the marine sector will benefit from co-operation. Would you agree?

Definitely.  Digitalizing the marine industry is too large a task for a single company to take upon their shoulders. Companies need to co-operate with each other and co-operate with customers who are willing to invest because they see the concrete benefits. It’s our duty to make our customers’ lives easier, to simplify their lives by providing easy-to-understand KPIs.

Such collaboration also enables ABB to generate more value, faster and allow us to roll out new solutions more easily. We can focus on the solutions rather than the mechanics of moving the data they require. We are able work on the basis of shared standards..

What new digital solutions are you working on and how are you moving towards them?

The way the industry is moving is to develop a digital twin of the vessels: real-time virtual models of what is happening across the ship. Tekomar XPERT, for example, provides fleet managers with a digital twin of their ships’ engines and turbochargers allowing for continuous performance evaluation. More and more service providers are moving in this direction. And through co-operation we can create more value for the customer: one plus one can equal three.

This ongoing, rapid acquisition and analysis of data allows solutions like Turbo MarineCare to be created. This really changes the relationship between ABB and its customers and offers them financial predictability, as well as allowing them to operate more efficiently, knowing exactly what’s happening with each of their assets. The availability of data helps mitigate service costs by allowing more reliable assessments and avoid unplanned interventions due to breakdowns.

accelerating digital transformation

Digital transformation has very much accelerated in many industries over the last six months – partly as a necessary response to the pandemic. Is that true of ABB’s customers?

This year has made many companies realize they need to speed up their digitalization efforts. It’s no longer a question of if I must do it, but when. And once companies start to adopt digitalization, they quickly realize it not only enhances operational efficiency but also creates competitive advantages. To give one example of these advantages that’s been especially relevant this year: technology increases your reach way beyond what’s in front of you. Remote tools that allow access to genuine insights from fleets wherever and whenever you need them have allowed businesses to thrive and make informed decisions in the most extreme circumstances.

This has been a step-change: everyone is coming to realise it’s a necessity to be successful in the future.

At the same time, being able to demonstrate return-on-investment is very important. If people are being asked to invest in digitalization, or technology, or training – they need to be sure they’ll be able to earn or save more as a result. Fortunately, we’re in a good position here: Tekomar XPERT reliably delivers a return in less than two weeks through fuel savings when engines are running at their optimal settings.

It’s only a matter of money?
With sustainability becoming more of a focus not only for governments and environmental associations but for each of us, positive measures to reduce emissions and fuel consumption are supported through digitalization, offering the competitive advantage business leaders require. Our solution also enables accurate reporting of emissions (via fuel consumption reports), which helps to manage the reporting requirements of various governing bodies as well as fleet managers. This was one motive behind the recent adoption of Tekomar XPERT by GESCO, for its fleet. In addition, digitalization solutions offer new potential for ways of engaging with customers to connect with your brand in terms of purpose and sustainability

Last but not least, right now, everyone in our industry is on an interesting and exciting journey. Many elements remain unknown, but we all know it’s a journey we need to take.


Photos by Marius Masalar and John Barkiple on Unsplash