Paradigm shift in Connectivity and Training
Eighty-eight industry stakeholders joined an IMarEST UAE branch technical meeting sponsored by KVH, as they explored the steps shipping needs to take to achieve communication transformation. The KVH speakers – Rob Parkin, Director of Sales – Commercial Maritime EMEA and Capt. Milind J Karkhanis, Sales Director – Middle East, shared their practical experience in an industry plagued with uncertainty on how to get from the status quo to finding firm steps on the digital pathway.
Nikeel Idnani, honorary secretary IMarEST UAE branch, moderated the evening conference, which had Digital Connectivity and Training as its central theme. In his welcome address, Nikeel referred to the IMarEST Strategic Plan for 2018 – 2022, which lays out the institute’s high-level goals and commensurate with the evening’s discussion, a key priority area being the support of the development and sustainability of the marine sector.
Rob and Milind seamlessly delivered a presentation in duet style, meticulously crafted and theatrically delivered on the current state of communications in commercial shipping and where it was headed. With less than 10% of ships having VSAT and 40,000+ vessels still utilizing limited bandwidths, Rob explained that Shipping stuck out like a sore thumb in an increasingly connected world for its reluctance to embrace modern technology, even where this is paying dividends in parallel industries. Despite this hesitancy due to uncertainty, the speakers expressed their conviction that the industry will be better connected in the short term than it is now – ship to shore, maritime to distribution. That connectivity will lead to a revolution throughout the logistics supply chain – a revolution in performance, fuel efficiency, sustainability, and most importantly – profitability.
Rob pointed out that with technology developing, the Basic ‘Communications Formula’ consisting of connectivity, data and hardware is becoming ever more dynamic. He highlighted that that the demand for Maritime Connectivity is growing due to the convergence of several key market drivers such as Operational Efficiency (optimizing performance, reducing fuel consumption & emissions), Regulatory Mandates (digital charts, position reports, training & labor regulations), Crew Welfare (improving morale, reducing accidents, enhancing recruitment & retention), Cost Savings (remote repair & diagnostics, reducing insurance premiums & port charges). With 90% of maritime professionals declaring that real-time data access is important to increasing maritime industry efficiency, KVH Videotel realized the industry needed to modernize and have been at the forefront of SatCom and training content service development.
Milind mentioned KVH has delivered 100+ million training hours to date with the most recent development being Virtual Reality – learning best by doing. This ‘fun’ three-dimensional training methodology was inspired by the immersive experience of virtual reality gaming and as Milind termed it ‘brings the vessel into the office’ providing a safe ‘sandbox’ in which to make mistakes yet coming as close to physically going down to the Engine room on board a ship.
Drawing from the general discussion at the IMarEST meeting; as shipping sails into a digital realm; it was evident that the house believed that the early adoption of smart communication will be an unqualified benefit for the maritime industry at sea and ashore.