NAVTOR is continuing its global expansion with the news that the Norwegian e-Navigation specialist is opening its first base in the UK. The firm, which has rapidly built a leading position as a provider of advanced e-navigation technology and services, has recruited Richard Northover to lead the Somerset based office.
From left; NAVTOR Sales Director Børge Hetland, CEO and General Manager Tor A. Svanes and Manager NAVTOR UK Richard Northover
NAVTOR was established in 2011, launching its acclaimed ENC service to the market in 2012. Since that point the business has secured both a global customer base and footprint, with offices in its hometown of Egersund, Norway, as well as dedicated bases in St Petersburg, Russia, Singapore, Japan and Sweden.
The latest move is, according to NAVTOR CEO Tor Svanes, a natural step forward for the ambitious business.
“We have a core mission of simplifying tasks for navigators, enhancing safety, and delivering increased efficiency for owners and operators,” Svanes states. “This is an objective that, particularly given the current market conditions, has been very well received by customers worldwide.
“We already have a strong position in Europe, but see huge potential in the UK. This is, and has been for centuries, one of the world’s leading maritime nations, and we believe the demand for our unique technology and services is clear, strong and broad-based. The UK has always been on the chart for NAVTOR’s growth plans, and Richard is the right man to help us realize that business potential.”
Northover is a veteran of the maritime industry. After starting his career navigating and commanding commercial yachts, he took the role of UK and Ireland Sales and Marketing Manager at Brookes and Gatehouse, before moving on to ChartCo and then Kelvin Hughes as Regional Sales Manager. Here he developed an intimate understanding of delivering technical products and services tailored to individual customer needs. His most recent role was at the International Centre for ENCs (IC-ENC), where, as Commercial Manager, he helped grow market share, develop market-wide ENC licensing specifications, and cemented the strength of the brand within key industry segments.
“I’ve been working alongside and watching NAVTOR’s growth with interest for the past four years,” he comments. “Their ability to develop innovative technology to simplify tasks and meet market needs has created real stand out in the industry. In particular, the creation of NavStation, the world’s first digital chart table, and their market defining Pay As You Sail (PAYS) ENC service, convinced me that this was a team that was committed to maximizing the potential and benefits of e-navigation.”
“Their portfolio is second to none, and answers a clear market need here in the UK. I’m looking forward to spreading the NAVTOR name throughout the industry, creating awareness of their expertise, technology and the efficiencies – in terms of time, fuel and cost – they can enable for shipowners of every size and segment.”
NAVTOR’s ENC-based portfolio enables seamless access to, and updates of, the very latest digital charts, saving man-hours while slashing administration duties. Chart management is simplified with land-based teams, as well as those at sea, receiving an overview of all chart usage, while weather and route optimization options can help enhance safety and fuel efficiency, with typical optimizations delivering fuel savings of approximately 4%.
Key NAVTOR products include the NAVTOR ENC Service, compatible with all types of ECDIS and available on a subscription or PAYS basis, NavStation, NavTracker fleet management software, and NavBox – a new innovation that automatically downloads the latest navigational data without navigators having to check for updates.
At the turn of the millennium the concept of driverless cars was pure science fiction. Now they’re a fact, with pilot vehicles clocking up the miles in the US, while companies such as Google, Tesla and Uber refine their propositions, strategies and technology. Driverless trucks are already working within the mining industry, while driverless trains transport both people and raw materials in locations worldwide.
Why should shipping be any different? The simple answer is: it won’t.
The first steps forward
It is unlikely that these futuristic ships will sail off the drawing board and into our hearts. People need time to become accustomed to the idea of self-steering steel giants, while the industry must develop the right regulatory framework, undertake stringent testing, and establish consensus about the best way forward.
But these issues must be seen against the context of potential benefits. Smarter ships, empowered by data sharing and seamlessly connected to onshore teams, will optimise performance, reduce costs, lower emissions and, crucially, address the number one cause of maritime incidents and accidents – human error. The arguments in favour of autonomous ships are convincing enough for development to be already underway, with e-navigation as an essential part.
Charting the route
E-navigation is so much more than digital charts. Using data as a facilitator, it delivers real economic advantages for the maritime industry by connecting decision makers, driving efficiency, enhancing safety and optimising operations for vessels, fleets and entire businesses.
Autonomous vessels are a natural step forward for the e-navigation discipline, with connected, digitised ships that perform with optimal efficiency, safety and security. Using the latest digital innovations, ENCs and the ECDIS can be used as a base upon which layers of information and functionality can be built. Furthermore, the sharing of data between vessels, maritime authorities and office-based teams enables both insights and overviews that give owners and operators complete control. People and assets can now be more connected than ever before, and this is central to the development of autonomous vessels.
Driving maritime development
NAVTOR’s expertise in e-navigation and data sharing lead to the company’s involvement in ENABLE, an EU-funded project that aims to prove, verify and validate the safety of autonomous vehicles of every type. NAVTOR has been enlisted to represent the maritime industry. During the project NAVTOR will investigate the concept of ‘shore-based bridges’ and test the validity of the software element of a remote bridge concept. Built on continuous data sharing between vessels and land, the project aim to transfer key navigation functions from the crew on board to office-based teams. In other words, this means those on land will be able to navigate vessels at sea.
It is not likely that all types of vessels will evolve into becoming fully autonomous and unmanned. Ferries and liners with predictable sailing patterns probably will, but the cruise business, for example, would face a much tougher transition to autonomy. But whether they switch to full autonomy or not, e-navigation will soon become central to the voyages of all seagoing vessels. And that is a science fact.
Specialist ship owner, operator and manager GC Rieber has signed a fleet-wide agreement with NAVTOR for a total vessel navigation solution, spanning both paper and digital deliveries. NAVTOR, a global leader in e-navigation technology and services, will now install products throughout GC Rieber’s portfolio of advanced seismic and offshore ships, enhancing overall fleet efficiency, safety and cost control.
The agreement is far reaching in scope. It covers the delivery of all digital and paper charts and publications, provided on a Pay As You Sail (PAYS) basis, alongside products and services including weather and route optimisation services, navigational management solution NavTracker, and the installation of NavBox units. These, one of NAVTOR’s latest innovations, connect with ECDIS and automatically download the latest navigational data without navigators having to check for updates.
“We have a long-standing objective of simplifying tasks for navigators and enhancing efficiency for owners and operators,” comments NAVTOR CEO Tor Svanes. “This is encapsulated by our latest agreement with GC Rieber Shipping.
“By offering them a single concept across their entire fleet we can ensure time and cost savings – with a seamless distribution of charts and publications and minimal administration. This dramatically cuts workloads, ensures regulatory compliance and safety, and gives land-based teams a complete overview of chart usage, management and expenditure. By choosing PAYS, the team only pay for the charts they actually use, while all are available for planning purposes.”
He continues: “Here we can see the potential of e-navigation realised – connecting all vessels, navigators and management teams on one platform for optimal routes, operations and overall business efficiency. In the shipping climate of today, and tomorrow, it makes perfect sense.”
GC Rieber operates a fleet of nine vessels - including some of the industry’s most advanced seismic ships - with installation of all NAVTOR’s products and services expected by the end of 2016.
Geir Rasmussen, Marine Superintendent at the Bergen-based business, said of the decision to use NAVTOR as a single navigational vendor: “As a shipowner and operator we are focused on maximising both efficiency and the quality of our operations – something that all our customers and stakeholders benefit from. The NAVTOR solution fits perfectly within that framework, uniting all vessels with a single solution that pays real dividends.
“NAVTOR is established, stable and high quality in its deliverables, so we feel confident consolidating all our navigation needs with them. What’s more the team is innovative – constantly striving for new solutions and the means to deliver added value. This continual process of improvement is important to us and we look forward to benefiting from, and contributing to, their further e-navigation developments.”.
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