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SMM: Diving into digital

The latest in disruptive marine tech at SMM 2018

Digitization is on the rise in the marine industry—and disruptive digital technology will take center stage at SMM 2018. Here are some of the highlights that you can look forward to in September in Hamburg.

From condition monitoring and onshore remote management, to smart shipping and artificial intelligence, there are many promising technology trends that could make the maritime industry more efficient. Some of these innovations have not yet reached full maturity, but experts will discuss their future potential at the Maritime Future Summit on September 3 at SMM. Follow the Digital Route at the event to find exhibitors with disruptive technologies that are set to shake up the industry.

Smart shipping

Autonomous and unmanned vessels have captured the imagination of the industry more than almost any other maritime trend. The ability to operate ships remotely from land-based control centers, or even without any human intervention at all, could reduce fuel consumption through a reduction in weight and air resistance. But the absence of a human crew means that vessels will have to be as reliable as possible—and there are still many legal obstacles to overcome. At SMM, industry experts will discuss the viability of such ships, as well as the legislation involved.

Artificial intelligence

Linked to autonomous shipping is artificial intelligence. AI has already found many applications in our everyday lives—and in shipping, it could help make vessels safer, more efficient, and easier to operate. This is due to crews having a more comprehensive view of their vessel’s surroundings and the present conditions. Sounds far-fetched? Several major players including Rolls-Royce and Maersk are already developing situational awareness technology powered by AI.

Digital twins

Although it has only recently become widely known, digital twin technology is already causing hype in the maritime industry. A digital twin is an exact digital replica of a physical object or system, enabling real-time monitoring throughout the lifecycle. In shipping, there are high hopes that this approach could cut the cost of shipbuilding. By replicating an entire ship and all its systems, shipyards could optimize design, maintenance, and production, helping them become more competitive. Digital twins could also facilitate collaboration between multiple parties.

One thing is certain: the shipping industry is undergoing massive change. The digital twin concept is an example: the ability to reproduce ships digitally and the use of drones fitted with high-tech cameras will reduce the effort involved in ship maintenance and mitigate safety risks.

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL Maritime


Blockchain is an open, decentralized ledger, which is gaining traction as a secure way to trade. In the maritime industry, it has potential to revolutionize trade by offering an alternative to traditional bills of lading. By minimizing human intervention in processes, it facilitates collaboration between trading partners and improves the accuracy and reliability of transactions.

SKF Marine is one of the exhibitors at SMM 2018 bringing products that enable digitized, connected shipping. These include cloud-enabled solutions such as SKF Marine Condition Monitoring Kits and the SKF Enlight Centre software package that facilitate maintenance data analysis and operations. Visit stand 210, Hall A1 to learn more and talk with our specialists.

Stay tuned for more articles about SMM on Engineering at Sea. You can see the previous article on green technology here. The final installment of this series will examine the cruise and ferry sector—a burgeoning area of the maritime industry.