Class in search of new ‘class’
Classifications Societies have a new role
In the economic downturn now underway most classification societies seem to have risen to the occasion exceptionally well, playing their cards prudently and ingeniously befitting their line of business and providing value added services to their customers in particular and society in general. A wide departure from their traditional role of establishing and maintaining technical standards for the construction and operation of ships and offshore structures, some class societies have come up with offers to make life easier for ship owners and seafarers at sea and the community.
Speaking at the workshop conducted by The Shipping Professional Network in Mumbai (SPNM) on Saturday last, on “Classification Society & Its Scope in Commercial Shipping” the Sumithran Sampath of ClassNK stated, “The new role of the Classification societies is to assist the ship owners to achieve greater fuel saving. When the shipping market is bad everyone needs some other source of income. Today, the economic downturn is making the classification societies to go in that direction of achieving fuel saving. So the entire focus is helping the owner to save fuel and achieve more profits also. This gives the classification societies the satisfaction of having reduced green house gases (GHG) at the same time. So the entire focus is helping owners save fuel.”
In this direction it was noted that everyone is trying to achieve eco-ship by integrating smarter technology / greener technology because the environment today demands it. The hydrogen fuel cell technology has been making good headway but how soon this will fructify depends on several factors. Much headway has been made to integrate the fuel cell technology for developing the logistics chain. It also depends how serious the governments are into it.
Japan has taken a key role in promoting its development and it is quite likely will be ahead in pioneering this line of technology because she has a large domestic fleet - a big advantage. By implementing it for their domestic fleet, which they cater to, can help them develop the logistic chain for their domestic fleet. Japanese government is very proactive when it comes to R & D. It is quite likely that in the next five years they could come up with this logistic chain.
Maersk has done joint research with DNV on Eco-ship and have introduced many energy saving measures on their ships also. They are more concentrated on their hull forms and machinery and brought about savings in the engine side using electronic technology. They have optimized their hull forms and the low friction frames are also being used on that. It is all a combination of marine technologies. All these EcoShips do not use one technology alone but five or six technologies for achieving fuel saving of 20% to 30%.
“ClassNK is strong in technology and has many technology people,” says Sampath. “In the company, most people are put into research. In the case of DNV and ABS they are strong on the offshore side and so are investing more in offshore. In fact ABS is a leader in the offshore sector. For them it is the oil and gas that is the ideal place for putting investment. In the offshore DNV is strong and will be able to focus on how the gas is being tapped.”
“Overnight it is not possible to achieve much,” he said. “Growth is slow always. ClassNK went about conducting seminars four to five years back and today it is paying rich dividends. At a seminar that we conducted we had presented our new software and immediately two participants wanted to know if this software could be made available to them and how much it would cost. We put them to our head office. Two days later they visited their Hong Kong office where they were shown all the software they had and they have selected and closed the deal.”
Other developments taking place clearly indicate the new role of classification societies. The recent merger of DNV and GL has seen expansion of each entity’s vision in order to have a global impact for a safe and sustainable future. DNV GL present focus is on Maritime Advisory, the offshore oil & gas, Business Assurance (certification) and advisory service with regard fuel efficiency / energy efficiency.
On the other hand Indian Register of Shipping is looking at investing in designer houses, consultancy services etc. It will now clearly look at both, performing the role of a traditional classification society, which is safety of life, assets at sea and protection of the marine environment and being a solution provider for its clients, thereby embracing the philosophy of ‘Beyond Class’.