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  • 2014 May 23 13:39

    SMM 2014 advance press conference experts give exclusive fair preview

    It will be a record year for SMM, that much is clear four months ahead of the leading international maritime trade fair in Hamburg. More exhibitors, more participating nations, more visitors than ever: "We have been fully booked for months. More than 2,000 exhibitors will be showcasing innovative products from this market," said Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, during the advance press conference in Hamburg today. Over 50 Journalists from all over the world had come to learn more about the upcoming SMM 2014, Hamburg Messe und Congress reports.
    In their opening address, HMC President and CEO Aufderheide, and Dr Herbert Aly, CEO and Managing Partner, Blohm+Voss, and a member of the SMM Advisory Board, gave an assessment of the state of the industry and a preview of the highlights of SMM 2014. "Our industry has reached a critical point. The market is getting more challenging and diversified. Anyone who wants to be part of the game in the future must take action now," said Aly. His speech mainly focused on the current situation in the container shipping and shipyard segments. Shipowners are under enormous pressure, he said: "Fewer ships are being built, but they are getting larger. This is a clear indication of an especially fierce competition," said Aly. Key markets with growth potential include offshore wind, cruise ships, naval ships, super yachts and offshore oil and gas, he added. "All major niche markets will also be represented at SMM. Visitors will thus be able to get first-hand information that will help them position themselves for future challenges," Aly said in his opening statement.
    His analysis was followed by a panel discussion with several other top-flight experts, including Govert Hamers, Chairman of SEA Europe, Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), and Dr Reinhard Lüken, General Managing Director of the German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association (VSM), and a member of the SMM Advisory Board.
    Experts from all fields
    The selection of subject matter experts reflected the new theme structure of SMM with each day focusing on one specific market sector. Finance, one of the key topics, was covered by Dr Reinhard Lüken, General Managing Director, VSM, who expects the industry to undergo substantial change in the near future: "Competitive financing schemes now play a key role in leveraging the enormous growth potential. The maritime industry's paradigmatic change towards ever more complex, technically sophisticated solutions means that the finance sector, i.e. banks and guarantors, will likewise have to adapt their financing models," said Lüken. Some of these models will be highlighted at SMM: "The SMM Ship Finance Forum is an attractive event format with internationally renowned experts. By including the perspective of the manufacturing industry it will offer new ideas and answers to SMM exhibitors and visitors alike."
    The Offshore topic was addressed by Govert Hamers, Chairman of the European Ships and Maritime Equipment Association (SEA Europe), and CEO of the Dutch company Vanderlande Industries B.V. Without doubt, billions will be invested in offshore energy over the coming decades, whether in the oil, gas or wind sector, he said. What will the industry need, and which shipyards will benefit? What does this mean for suppliers of marine equipment? "This sector harbours enormous development potential for the entire industry," said Hamers.
    Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) since early 2013, was the spokesperson for the Environment topic. He delivered an assessment of the current situation of the shipping industry from the viewpoint of its European players in the face of tougher environmental restrictions and more stringent efficiency requirements. "The shipping industry is currently going through a similar phase as it did in the 19th century when steam ships began to replace sailing vessels.  Today's change, however, was initiated by the political agenda, and the time frame is extremely narrow," Verhoeven said. With challenges ranging from emission limits and ballast water management to LNG propulsion, Verhoeven said the ball was now in the court of politics to establish a clear and reliable roadmap for the industry. "Shipowners need certainty that these conditions will remain unchanged for a long time, and that today's investments in newbuilding and retrofitting projects will truly pay," Hamers added.
    Security and Defence (including piracy) and Recruiting (maritime human resources management) will be among the featured topics at SMM, each one assigned to a specific day of the fair. Both were discussed at the advance press conference, as well. The experts agreed that the market for highly qualified personnel is getting more international. "I cannot tell what the situation looks like in shipping, but in the shipbuilding segment the demand for young, skilled labour is very high. Increasingly, it is not just Know-how but also and especially Know-why that is expected," said Blohm+Voss CEO Aly. The advance press conference was hosted by Dr Max Johns, Managing Director of the German Shipowners' Association (VDR) and Member of the SMM Advisory Board. The panel experts commented on recent political developments, as well, including the Ukraine crisis and the upcoming independence referendum in Scotland. The advance press conference highlighted a number of key issues. The unanimous conclusion among the audience: SMM is the undisputed Number One trade event of the global maritime industry.
    The exclusive sponsor of SMM is DNV GL, the world's largest ship and offshore classification society. DNV GL Group, which resulted from a merger of the two classification societies DNV and Germanischer Lloyd (GL), has more than 16,000 employees working at 300 company sites. "SMM has always been a special event for us at DNV GL. Our maritime headquarters are in Hamburg and shipping has, and will continue to be, the core business of DNV GL. SMM is the perfect platform for the maritime industry to connect, exchange experiences and develop future opportunities. This is a very important year for us as we celebrate both 150 years of history and year one of DNV GL. And so we are very pleased to have been able to take on the role of primary sponsor for SMM," said Tor E. Svensen, CEO of DNV GL Maritime.

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