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Pierre Guillemin, Vice President Technology at Wärtsilä Voyage, delivered the business’ standpoint on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on shipping at the Maritime Future Summit (MFS) hosted by SMM DIGITAL.

At the event entitled “Aye, Aye, A.I.” Guillemin, alongside other industry stakeholders, spoke of a maritime future powered by data and an industry primed to reap the benefits of systems thinking and interoperable networking.

“It’s time to focus on what AI can deliver today, and the power it can enfold by bringing together a currently fragmented maritime ecosystem. This transformation will be driven by solid value propositions for our customers — such as decarbonisation, safety and operational efficiency.  This offering will ultimately usher the era of a truly open and interconnected shipping ecosystem,” said Guillemin.

From unconnected traditional sails to data-driven intelligent ships and ports that make voyages safer, greener and more efficient — this is the vision behind Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine Ecosystem drive shared Wärtsilä Voyage’s Head of Technology at this year’s SMM digital conference.

So far, the maritime industry has had a sluggish and fragmented approach to digitalisation. But 2020 made it evident that shipping needs to pick up its pace towards smarter operations. And Wärtsilä Voyage is bringing that transformation.


“Looking at the upsides — safety, cost-effectiveness, operational and fuel efficiency — the case for maritime digitalisation is not just strong, it is inevitable,” said Guillemin. “Now, it’s only a matter of implementation, and we have a roadmap drawn for it.”

The tech is futuristic, but it is targeted at solving very real problems being faced by the industry presently. Leveraging effective AI technologies, Wärtsilä Voyage’s solutions address a comprehensive range of key shipping operations. There is a plethora of practical solutions that can create immediate and quantifiable economic value for customers, such as:

  • Optimised route planning
  • Real-time vessel tracking
  • Vessel performance systems to manage speed, propulsion and trim optimisation
  • Improved ship-to-shore connectivity
  • Predicting and saving fuel consumption
  • Eliminating human error to enhance safety
  • Reducing emissions for better environmental compliance

“To support the marine industry in meeting its decarbonisation targets, Wärtsilä Voyage is constantly researching, developing and investing in a wide range of products and solutions that enable a variety of vessel classes to substantially reduce their emissions,” said Guillemin. “For instance, our Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) and other smart optimisation applications gather real-time data to ensure efficient ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship operations, optimise routes, reduce fuel consumption through trim, speed and propulsion management, while solutions like Wärtsilä Navi-Port ensure ‘just-in-time’ arrival to avoid unnecessary near-shore anchorage. The data also helps us to continuously learn, improve and update the vessel engine, fuel and propulsion systems. While these solutions are already in place and being implemented, the bigger picture is to rapidly move towards a seamless and interconnected marine ecosystem,” added Guillemin.

Digitalisation is happening but the applications have mostly remained in silos, underutilised. Or completely unexplored due to a hesitation in committing to futuristic tech that may not be compatible with other operations.

Wärtsilä Voyage, therefore, has designed an incremental approach. Customers can start climbing the AI ladder with retrofitted solutions and slowly move towards digital-native new builds. “Our simulators and latest cloud-based training solutions are also a step towards making the transition to AI easier for both existing and future crews,” added Guillemin.

Also, digitalising a vessel or a port is just a steppingstone towards building a holistic Smart Marine Ecosystem. Wärtsilä Voyage has developed a unique integrated infrastructure that combines bridge systems, cloud data management, data services, decision support tools, and access to real-time information — resulting in a smarter voyage.

“We are not just talking about automating a vessel, a port, or one particular function,” said Guillemin. “We’re talking about building a single interconnected, intelligent marine platform for all stakeholders involved in moving a vessel from point A to point B. This requires adoption of the latest technologies, data sharing, open-source APIs, and collaboration across multiple industry verticals to build a network that works in tandem to achieve new levels of efficiency and safety.”