Norwegian meteorological services provider StormGeo AS has launched s-Suite, a software and services tool for shipowners and managers. The new product combines its existing navigation s-Planner, s-Routing and s-Insight services into a single platform that can be used together or as individual modules. The idea is that the s-Suite delivers an optimized workflow where both ship and shore are working from the same integrated platform, with faster decision making based on common real-time data. With that comes cost savings and smarter decisions, bringing with it improvements in vessel performance.
What does that mean in real terms? Kim Hedegaard Sørensen, StormGeo’s COO for shipping, explains to The Naval Architect: “Say you have an operator of a bulk carrier going from A to B and there are certain agreements with respect to the cargo. The commercial team might want it delivered there as quickly as possible, but the technical guys want it delivered at the lowest cost. Sometimes the two things are matching, but sometimes not.
“When the two products – technical performance and the route advisory services – are overlapping you can see the optimal point for arrival, speed and thereby fuel consumption and make the best overall decision for the company. Previously one department might make a suboptimal decision that only takes its own interests into consideration.”
s-Suite has been developed in close consultation with the shipping industry, notably StormGeo’s longstanding customer Hartmann Schiffahrts. “We have software developers who understand the industry, but primarily because companies like Hartmann have been demanding this. We’ve been listening carefully to what the industry wants, and that’s a one-stop decision support tool that utilizes the same data.”
The software, which can be easily integrated into whatever third-party hardware may be installed on a vessel, is the culmination of a journey that StormGeo was discussing when The Naval Architect last spoke with them two years ago. Sørensen, who only recently joined the company, admits that the development process for the new platform took longer than expected but believes the wait is worthwhile. “We didn’t want to go to the market with something that’s not working, this is a major step for us as a company. The challenge has been in getting the three products integrated into one, creating a powerful user interface,” he explains.
Needless to say that the potential efficiency gains are seen as a primary benefit that StormGeo is keen for its customers to understand. To complement its route advisory services clients are also sent an end of voyage report outlining what decisions were made, the advice that StormGeo provided at each stage, and how that translated into improved time and bunker consumption. These are in turn compiled into monthly or quarterly ‘return on investment’ reports. A similar report is also provided for fleet management. Sørensen says: “It gives various advice such as how to save on the use of the boiler, or auxiliary engine, or if you should reschedule hull cleaning. That converts into energy saving and, importantly, reduced emissions.”
One of StormGeo’s unique selling points, and one which Sørensen is particularly proud of, are the Fleet Performance Centers. Client ship data is monitored 24/7 at these sites by specialist staff who provide tailor-made advice on technical performance with the assistance of AI and algorithms. “It’s people who come from the industry, either navigators or engineers, who’ve largely been at sea themselves. If you want to work in one of our centers you need to have been onboard a ship for a considerable period of time, or worked in the technical department of a shipowner.
“We don’t see our customers getting sufficient value if they’re not supported by the third point in the triangle, which is the people; whether that’s the meteorologists doing the route advisory or the experts in the Fleet Performance Centre backing it up.” In summation, Sørensen believes StormGeo is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the two megatrends in shipping: climate change and digitalization. “We’re helping shipping companies with [our solutions] to reduce emissions and have accrued a huge amount of data that we can use assisting them practically.