• 2019 November 11 17:48

    Massterly and the future of autonomous shipping

    Massterly is the world’s first company set up to operate autonomous vessels. It was established last year by joint owners Kongsberg Maritime, a world leader in automation and digital development, and Wilhelmsen, a globally recognised vessel owner, operator, manager and international logistics powerhouse. The firm was created to offer services throughout the autonomy value chain, with the ability to lead clients from vessel design and build management through to crewing, monitoring and full operations, Blue-C Press Office said.

    What is behind the desire of maritime industry to develop autonomous shipping. Pia Meling from Massterly in Oslo based office says that her company is more focused on getting trucks off the road than unmanned vessels on the water. The transition to autonomy, she says, is a ‘means rather than an end’, helping society tackle a pressing problem, while enhancing both the commercial and environmental sustainability of shipping. With major players now preparing to set sail, is this the start of a transportation revolution?".

    According to Pia Meling, drivers in Oslo spend around 145 hours a year in traffic jams. “That equates to 38 minutes of extra travel time every working day. In New York, where 90% of freight tonnage moves through the city on trucks, congestion cost the city USD 862million in lost economic activity in 2017 alone. Beyond the time, money and stress factors there’s pollution, with heavy trucks a major source of emissions, such as black carbon, damaging air quality and severely impacting on the environment and public health,” she says.

    “People can view autonomy exclusively through the prism of technology, solely focusing on vessels and digitized infrastructure. But I think the benefits should be centre stage and - with the first generation of ships - the ability to move goods transportation from our roads to the sea (the EU has a target of shifting 50% of all goods transported under 300km by truck to sea or rail by 2050) is perhaps the key motivator. It is, quite simply, the solution to one of our biggest challenges. Thankfully, there are some very forward-thinking cargo owners here in Norway that seem to agree.”

    However, Meling, Massterly VP Sales & Marketing, stresses the company is as much about helping customers with existing ‘traditional’ tonnage as it is about assisting those pioneering the new generation of unmanned vessels.

    “There’s a lot that can be done differently if you introduce digital/automation technology to ships and move select support services on shore,” she explains. As an example she briefly references Norway’s busiest ferry route, from Moss to Horten, where operator Bastø Fossen recently introduced Kongsberg auto-docking technology on its manned fleet, saving approximately two minutes per docking".

    “The benefits in terms of operational safety and efficiency, vessel and fleet management, and OPEX (with for example, optimized energy and fuel consumption) can be compelling. For the majority of the industry that will be the way forward".

    “There’ll be a gradual transition rather than a switch, and Massterly is here to ‘hold hands’ and help our customers identify, enable and seize upon the opportunities delivering the greatest individual benefits. That will be a core market for us.”

    Although adapting existing tonnage will be big business, it doesn’t make for the biggest headlines. For those we have to look to Massterly’s fully autonomous projects and the aforementioned “forward thinking cargo owners”.

    The Yara Birkeland is the showstopper. The world’s first fully autonomous vessel, this 120 TEU fully electric feeder ship is currently under construction in Romania (Massterly is onsite to help manage the newbuilding project) with a launch set for next year. Once active the ship will service a set route between Herøya and Brevik/Larvik, initially operating with a crew for comprehensive testing before the bridge is removed (physically) and full autonomy engaged. It is set to take between 25,000 and 40,000 truckloads of fertilizer off Norway’s overloaded road infrastructure per annum.

    Although a contract has yet to be signed, Massterly, as the sole player in its field, should be Yara’s natural partner to conduct testing, monitoring and day-to-day operations.

    Less well-known (certainly outside of Norway), but equally as impressive, are the plans of ASKO – the country’s largest grocery wholesaler and its leading distributor of food and fast-moving consumer products to supermarkets.

    Meling says that Massterfly works closely with ASKO, which plans to build at least two fully electric autonomous RoRo vessels. "These would offer capacity for 16 trailers each, ferrying the cargo from one side of the Oslofjord to the other. In doing so the 66 m long ships, probably travelling at 6-8 knots for optimal energy efficiency, would save around 1 million truck kilometres a year.”

    Massterly is currently negotiating with shipyards on ASKO’s behalf, with firm orders to follow.

    This ‘cost effective’ argument is a difficult one. Certainly replacing individual vessel crews with a central land-based team, capable of overseeing multiple assets, translates to major savings (in terms of both labour cost and vessel specification, with no need for accommodation and a traditional bridge). While slow speed electric operations will deliver not only environmentally friendly, zero emission performance but also benefits in fuel savings.

    “It’s likely that first generation autonomous vessels, especially when you add in the tailored infrastructure that will support them to optimize efficiency (in Yara’s case self-driving straddle carriers and automated loading and discharging), will be more expensive than traditional alternatives. Nevertheless, OPEX will be reduced from day one of unmanned operations and, as yards begin to specialize in what will be a growth segment (leading to serial production), technology costs drop with volume, and new innovations arrive, the overall price tag will decrease.

    “I believe that future generations of autonomous vessels will be cheaper to build than traditional alternatives… but this will take time,” Meling concludes.

    So, there is a price to pay for being a first mover - as much for Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg Maritime, as they build a new breed of business, as for shipowners - but there’s also an opportunity. And that’s not just restricted to OPEX savings.

    “The world is changing,” states Meling. “Society, and particularly the younger generation, has a growing awareness of environmental issues and the need for sustainable solutions. Those that do not address their carbon footprint will struggle to recruit and retain new talent, while they may actively be punished when it comes to consumers exerting influence in terms of purchasing goods and services. In addition, both charterers and banks are now increasingly interested in low carbon shipping companies.

    “There is an opening here for companies that are prepared to embrace innovation to benefit society’s stakeholders. They can position themselves for the future, enhance reputation and really connect with key audiences. I think companies such as Yara and ASKO are fully aware of that enormous potential. I know Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg are!”

    As head of Massterly’s marketing efforts Meling is eager to put the autonomy conversation on the agenda, and this year utilized Nor-Shipping 2019 as a key platform to engage. Meling spoke at four events within the busy week of activity for ‘Your Arena for Ocean Solutions’, which saw over 50,000 participants descending on venues across Oslo and Lillestrøm in June, as well as splitting time between both Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg’s exhibition stands.

    By the time the next Nor-Shipping rolls around in June 2021 Meling is confident Massterly will have moved beyond its consultancy and preparatory stages to embrace full blown, 24/7 vessel operation (although probably not fully unmanned).

    “We want people to reimagine transportation,” she states. “Autonomy can be the tool that enables a new approach, whereby the sea replaces road as the natural solution for relatively short distances. Instead of building new bridges, motorways and tunnels and suffocating, literally, under the ever-greater pressures of congestion, we can consider more ferries and feeder vessels, with greater reliability, better service, much lower cost and significantly lower carbon footprints.




2019 December 16

11:09 CMA CGM announces FAK rates from Asia to North Europe
10:52 Port of HaminaKotka throughput in Jan-Nov’2019 grew by 11% Y-o-Y to 16.53 million tonnes
10:31 Bunker sales at the port of Singapore in Jan-Nov’2019 fell by 5.5% Y-o-Y to 43 million tonnes
10:10 Port of Singapore throughput in Jan-Nov’2019 declined by 0.5% to 572.73 million tonnes
10:09 Keppel delivers another jackup rig to Grupo R with sale and leaseback deal
09:47 Brent Crude futures price is down 0.35% to $64.98, Light Sweet Crude – down 0.38% to $59.75
09:29 Baltic Dry Index is down to 1,355 points
09:18 CMA CGM announces partnership with Shell to supply marine biofuel to its fleet

2019 December 15

16:41 Coast Guard reopens La Quinta Channel near Ingleside, Texas
15:22 Total moves forward on two deepwater projects in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
14:05 SAL Heavy Lift becomes world’s first to equip vessels with new hydrogen / methanol injection technology
13:16 Nauticor’s "Kairos" received the first LNG bunker license in the Port of Rostock Hamburg
12:01 USCG begins ice breaking operations in western Great Lakes
11:48 Iridium continues GMDSS readiness with announcement of launch partners
10:41 Farid Salem honored by the Lloyd’s List Lifetime Achievement Award

2019 December 14

15:48 USCG returns majority of New York Waterway ferries to service
14:31 SK Telecom and SHI successfully verified 5G-powered autonomous and remote control navigation test platform using a test ship
13:19 Mitsubishi Corporation participates in FPSO project in Brazil
11:54 SEA\LNG's study underlines LNG as a compelling investment solution for VLCCs on the Arabian Gulf to China trade route
10:46 GTT Training receives the ‘LNG World Shipping Safety Award 2019’
08:55 Draft strategy for development of Russia’s Arctic through 2035 to be presented to Vladimir Putin by year end

2019 December 13

18:17 New ecological equipment enters berths of Multipurpose Reloading Complex in Ust-Luga
17:22 Total's Mozambique LNG Project gets $400 mln loan from African Development Bank
17:03 Port of Los Angeles and Indonesia Port Corporation sign cooperative agreement
16:33 ABB wins contract to power Genting’s next-generation cruise vessels
16:12 ABB completes delivery for the world's most advanced icebreaking LNG carrier fleet
16:03 Windermere Lake Cruises new vessel launched in Damen Technical Cooperation project
15:33 MacGregor deck handling solution supports China’s Xue Long 2 icebreaker operation
15:12 Polarcus awarded 10-month acquisition program offshore Brazil
14:32 Rotterdam Port Fund invests in Fleet Cleaner
14:11 Subsea 7 awarded contract offshore Norway
13:43 Moín Container Terminal reaches 1 million TEUs
13:31 New container terminal opens in northern Italy
13:05 Aker Solutions to provide subsea production system for phase two of Aker BP's Ærfugl
12:30 Jifmar Offshore Services acquires Delta Marine
12:04 SBM Offshore signs FPSO Sepetiba contracts
11:30 Abu Dhabi Ports announces AED 4Bn expansion projects at Khalifa Port on its 7th Anniversary
11:27 Damen signs contract with Cotecmar for DTC hydrographic research vessel
11:12 WMU and EMSA cooperate on capacity building and research
11:03 SAL Heavy Lift becomes world’s first to equip vessels with new hydrogen / methanol injection technology
10:48 Murmansk Sea Fishing Port handled 245,000 tonnes of cargo in 11M’2019, down 20.7% Y-o-Y
10:34 Overseas Shipholding Group and American Shipping Company jointly announce extension of tanker charters
10:24 WMU President reports to the IMO Assembly
09:59 Kawasaki Heavy Industries launches the world's first liquefied hydrogen carrier
09:43 MABUX: Bunker market this morning, December 13
09:29 Brent Crude futures price is up 0.65% to $64.62, Light Sweet Crude – up 0.52% to $59.49
09:13 Baltic Dry Index is down to 1,388 points

2019 December 12

18:36 EBRD finances Tekirdag port on Turkey’s Sea of Marmara
18:05 Dutch Drone Delta established with Port of Rotterdam Authority support
17:51 Port of Southampton continues infrastructure investment with £3m crane
17:30 Baltic Workboats shipyard delivers 19 WP Oilrec workboat
17:05 The European Federation of Inland Ports welcomes the Green Deal for Europe
16:46 MOL orders 2 next-generation 'EeneX' coal carriers
16:43 Throughput of port Kaliningrad in Jan-Nov’2019 fell by 21% Y-o-Y to 10.20 million tonnes
16:26 Klaipėda LNG terminal welcomed three large and four small LNG vessels in November
16:05 Air quality sensor in the Port of Rotterdam checks sulphur emissions from shipping
15:57 Throughput of port Vyborg in Jan-Nov’2019 fell by 35% Y-o-Y to 1.12 million tonnes
15:34 Alewijnse wins electrical contracts for two additional Combi Freighters at Damen Yichang Shipyard
15:00 Throughput of port Vysotsk in Jan-Nov'2019 climbed by 6% Y-o-Y to 17.90 million tonnes
14:36 Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard launches dry cargo carrier Pola Anastasia of Project RSD59