E-navigation can be the cornerstone for a new age of smart shipping. But a new digital reality opens up new digital risks, argues Tor Svanes, CEO of NAVTOR. Security, he says, must be a top priority.
“E-navigation doesn’t just benefit navigators, it enhances fleet, business and entire industry performance,” explains an impassioned Svanes. “It can be the key to unlocking smart shipping and delivering enormous efficiency, safety, cost and environmental benefits for maritime. But due care is required.”
Leading the way as an agent of change
Tor Svanes is the CEO of Navtor, which provides products and services to more than 5,000 ships.
The Navtor CEO is sitting in his office overlooking the sparkling waters of Egersund in southern Norway. It’s a modest, picturesque and—one has to say—very surprising location for a business that’s touted as a global powerhouse in the world of e-navigation.
The firm, which opened its doors only eight years ago, provides sophisticated electronic navigational chart (ENC) solutions that ease administrative burdens—both on shore and at sea—while enabling owners and operators to unlock the untapped value of benefits like improved efficiency and accelerated decision-making.
Get ‘smart’: the transformative benefits of digitalisation
“E-navigation is driven by data and enabled by communication,” Svanes continues. “Relevant data is accessed, organised and shared—between systems, teams, assets and facilities, on land and at sea—in a bid to optimise operations and enhance decision-making. It connects the stakeholders in the shipping chain ‘joining up the dots’ for simplified, safe and efficient operations. That’s smart!"
NAVTOR offers a data tracking, reporting and management solution called NavTracker, which includes PC software and a mobile app.
Svanes provides numerous practical examples to explain his argument, like a passage planning module that effectively automates this laborious but necessary bridge task, cutting the average required administration time from 3.5 hours to just 30 minutes (per vessel, per voyage). It also eliminates human error in journey planning, a leading cause of maritime casualties.
E-navigation systems can also create digitally-optimised routes, taking into account factors like real-time weather conditions and tidal patterns to deliver vessel fuel savings. Even a modest reduction in consumption can have a significant impact on the bottom line in a relatively short period of time, which gives fleets a competitive edge while cutting emissions.
Meanwhile, fully connected fleets give businesses the ability to gain complete overviews of vessel movements, chart usage, management and costs, alongside real-time operational data. This delivers enormous upside for fleet managers, with Navtor offering an app to leverage this data and put it into action.
“The benefits,” Svanes stresses, “are nothing short of transformational.”
Conquering cyber threats
While the benefits of smart shipping are evident, the risks are very real, too. E-navigation’s connected nature—which will be key in empowering future vessel autonomy—makes these systems obvious targets for cyber criminals looking for ways to disrupt, destroy and demand ransom payments.
In response to growing concerns about shipping’s heightened vulnerability to cyber attacks in the age of interconnectivity Nor-Shipping 2019 recently mounted a coup that saw Admiral Michael Rogers confirmed as the keynote speaker of its upcoming Ocean Leadership Conference, which convenes on 4 June.
Rogers, formerly director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and chief of the US Central Security Service and Commander of US Cyber Command, is arguably the world’s leading authority on this new risk environment.
“This is an excellent move for Nor-Shipping,” Svanes says. “It’s already an essential exhibition and gathering point for the global industry—an unbeatable face-to-face business arena—and the new Ocean Leadership Conference format will help businesses chart the best path forward. Admiral Rogers’ advice in that regard is absolutely essential.”
Total security—and piece of mind
For its part, as the digital transformation of shipping accelerates, Navtor is that ensuring its customers are equipped with the tools needed to mitigate cyber risk. The firm’s NavBox is at the centre of its e-navigation solution, automating the distribution and updates of digital charts, publications and other navigational data, which saves time while ensuring complete regulatory compliance.
Last month, DNV GL certified the device as “cyber secure”. The development marked an industry first.
“This shows that our global client base can enjoy real peace of mind,” Svanes continues. “They can unlock the benefits of e-navigation without being compromised by the rising tide of cyber security threat. The NavBox is robust, reliable and 100% secure, encrypting information and operating as a ‘black box’ at the heart of our efficient, compliant and cost-effective solution.”
Challenges and opportunities driven by shipping’s digital transformation will be explored at length during Nor-Shipping 2019, which convenes in Oslo and Lillestrom on 4 June. At Navtor, preparations for the conference and exhibition are well underway —and the excitement inside its Egersund office is palpable.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing our solution to the industry in June,” Svanes concedes, adding: “Be ‘smart’ and come see us there!”