Tech transformation and the safety gap – new white paper released

Classification society DNV GL has released a new white paper discussing the potential safety implications of shipping’s accelerating pursuit of greater digitalisation and the adoption of alternative fuels, suggesting that a “safety gap” may result if existing approaches are followed to their conclusion.

The white paper focuses on twin trends shaping the industry – digitalisation and decarbonisation – and the different safety-related risks associated with these trends.

Digitalisation increases system complexity and introduces new modes of operation and collaboration, while decarbonisation involves a significant increase in the use of alternative fuels and operations. To deal with these developments, the white paper focuses on the interaction between technology, organisations, and the people working in the maritime industry.

“To close the safety gap, we will need a collective, ongoing effort,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime.

“As a class society, we can play a leading role by acting as trailblazers for regulators, gathering expertise, partnering with industry and developing guidelines. Suppliers, owners, charterers, and yards can work together to ensure we treat vessels holistically, over the entire lifecycle, rather than a collection of separate sub-systems.”

“We need to recognise how any single decision, for example the choice of fuel or introduction of a new digital system, impacts upon other ship systems, the vessel as a whole, and even the fleet. But, if we can all work together, step out of our silos, we can develop the procedures and competencies needed to meet these challenges and enable a culture of continuous improvement.”

The white paper concludes that every maritime organisation can play a part in facilitating safe and efficient performance, by balancing technology and personnel, utilising human-centric design, and ensuring the overall wellbeing of their people. Ultimately, it is the people in these organisations who will lead the industry forward as it transforms to a more digital and decarbonised future.

“If we want to ensure our industry transforms safely, we must embrace the idea that whenever we are developing new technologies, systems and processes, the end user must be central to that development process,” said Fenna van de Merwe, Principal Consultant at DNV GL – Maritime, and the paper’s lead author.

“Our aim should be that throughout the industry we have a shared focus that in both design and operation we are supporting people in their work and decision making. This is essential to understanding these new risks and to building the safety barriers that will enable us to realise the potential of these new technologies and processes safely.”

The white paper, Closing the safety gap in an era of transformation, can be downloaded here

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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