Tor Svanes, CEO NAVTOR, says there’s more to the future of navigation than digital charts. In fact, Tor argues, for those looking to find the most sustainable, profitable path forward, a route should be plotted taking in an array of interwoven digital solutions delivering true ‘big picture’ benefits. Fail to do that and you could be left all at sea.
For those of us that have spent time on the bridge over the years, the UK Hydrographic Office’s (UKHO) decision, announced this summer, to phase out paper charts by 2026 will have stirred conflicting emotions.
On the one hand, there’s the realisation that acquiring, utilising and wrestling with these cumbersome creations was a hopelessly inefficient pain in the posterior. While on the other, well, they were kind of beautiful.
But, in the same way streaming music is easier than owning LPs, there was only ever one way the wind was going to blow. With the UKHO now following the NOAA (consigning paper to the bin by 2025) we can see that the e-Navigation revolution has finally taken over.
However, in the same way that there’s more to e-Navigation than digital charts, there’s a lot more to consider when setting your fleet’s course than acquiring the latest e-Navigation solutions.
E-Navigation is just one piece of the puzzle, when what you really NEED to see is the big picture.
At its heart, e-Navigation is about effective, secure and seamless data sharing.
Here at NAVTOR, we know a little bit about e-Navigation, currently holding the position of the world’s largest ENC distributor, with advanced products and services on board over 8,000 vessels. One of the key learnings from building that leadership is that e-Navigation can be utilised to get the industry far further than from port A to port B.
At its heart, e-Navigation is about effective, secure and seamless data sharing. That means it requires a robust and efficient platform, or system, to achieve this. And of course, if you can share data one way – e.g. from shore to ship with the latest, compliant charts and publications – then you can share it in the opposite direction (with shore teams suddenly gaining insights into real-time vessel operations).
This provides the industry with an opportunity.
Putting you in control
An integrated e-Navigation ecosystem can be the foundation that true smart shipping is built on.
The NAVTOR Suite connects ship and shore to deliver seamless data exchange
As the first operational component of the industry to comprehensively digitalise, it forms the cornerstone for development – opening a (cyber secure) gateway through which all other fleet data can flow. How so? Well, let’s move to performance. An advanced e-Navigation suite, offering benefits such as point-to-point auto-routeing, automated tasks (including Passage Planning and reporting) and support for regulatory compliance, can be integrated with a real-time performance monitoring and optimisation system. Through a single shared platform, this can provide the very latest data on vessel and fleet operations, uniting crews at sea and on-shore for complete situational awareness and decision making.
This means no more scattered assets, or siloed data, but genuinely integrated control – with insights into engine or hull performance, seen in context with wave, weather and AIS data, mixed with energy consumption, charter covenants, accurate arrival updates, and much more. This connected data, and this level of real-time control, is ever more important in an evolving environment of CII ratings, sustainability linked finance, and increasing pressure from cargo owners, and other stakeholders, for continual (and verified) improvement.
Suddenly, e-Navigation goes from simply getting from A to B, to how you get from A to B in the safest, most competitive and compliant manner. It’s smart shipping in action.
Log on to the future
It doesn’t stop there. As with paper charts, paper logbooks will (no doubt) be seen as increasingly outdated in a digital age. And rightly so.
By moving to digital logbooks fleets can adopt a standardised approach, with standardised quality – as transparent, verifiable data is captured automatically, with no mistakes and no illegible handwriting derailing potential insights. Portfolios of isolated books, across separate vessels, are transformed into digital treasure troves, with big data access opening up huge potential for analytics, benchmarking and operational/business improvement.
All connected, all integrated, and all feeding the same ecosystem that is already rich with navigation and performance insights.
And that’s just the start. It’s difficult to predict exactly where maritime is heading as we look to the horizon, but this is just the beginning of the digitalisation journey. By using e-Navigation as the enabler, shipowners and operators can leverage critical data made available from sensors, systems, offices and external sources to achieve competitive advantage, and environmental goals.
This is already possible today, so who knows where tomorrow may take us?
One thing’s for sure though… you won’t find the answer on a paper chart.