The Summary of the SeaFocus 2010

Intelligent container handling

Pekka Lundmark, CEO of Konecranes Oyj, stressed the fact that current living standards can only be maintained by increasing the amount of work or increasing work productivity. Mr. Lundmark made the point that increasing the amount of work in many parts of the world is not an option, which leaves us with only the option of increasing work productivity. In today’s globalised world, intelligent container handling can actually contribute significantly in this respect. As an introductory example Mr. Lundmark showed that only 60 % of a container crane’s nominal efficiency is normally used in port operations. Obviously there are differences between ports but in most cases about 15 % of the nominal efficiency is lost to sub-optimal yard operations and vessel operations respectively and another 10 % to insufficient operator skills.

What can be done about this? Konecrane’s interpretation is, that new technology in combination with new service concepts are keys in the efforts to increase productivity and safety while improving environmental performance.Mr. Lundmark referred to estimations that container flows, which have grown from 50 MTEU to 500 MTEU in the last twenty years, would continue to grow at a more modest rate of maybe 6 % per annum after the financial crisis. More important than this, from a container handling point of view, is the fact that vessel sizes have continued to increase rapidly and with the opening of the enlarged Panama canal, container flows will find new routes and the share of very large container vessels will increase the pressure on ports to improve operational efficiency. As the new Panama canal opens up new routes, ports that can make productivity leaps will be the winners. How then do we develop intelligent container handling that will increase productivity and contribute to a safer and better environment? Mr. Lundmark’s proposal, Intelligence through technology, is presented below:

• Increased safety. Limit human access to container yards in order to avoid any unexpected, uncontrollable situations. The technology for reliable remote operations is already here and it comes with not only improved safety but also advanced object location detection enabled by smarter positioning thus increasing efficiency and it also enables:

• Better space utilization because less space is required for machine operations between the stacks. Better space utilization as an ingredient in intelligent container handling also includes higher stack density with smarter choice of equipment, efficient use of equipment, advanced positioning technology and direct hit operation from ship to railway – the port should only be a location where vessels and trains meet, not a place for storage. Increased cargo fluidity not only saves space but also contributes to fewer moves, less emissions and costs.

• Better operational predictability provides significant productivity improvement possibilities. Information is key! When correct information about ship activities, gate operations etc. are available, transferring containers between transport modes will become much smoother than today, indeed saving both time and money and reducing pollution.

• There is good potential for reduced emissions with more efficient and intelligent fleet management allowing also for less energy per task. Cable connected equipment decreases local emissions dramatically compared with diesel engines and the technology for using smaller machines with alternative energy sources already exists. The key words are: fleet management with no idling, equipment efficiency, optimal power source selection and increased exhaust treatment.

• Improved asset utilization is facilitated by remote operations that are safer and less dependent on human working hours and stoppages, real time equipment condition monitoring and dramatic changes in traditional working methods among other things.

The future as Mr. Lundmark sees it consists of intelligent suppliers providing service and maintenance before the customer has a break down and intelligent operators controlling operations remotely in yards safely staffed only by equipment supported and controlled by humans located off the physical flow of goods.

The design and operation of modern cruise ships

Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), stressed the long life cycle of a modern cruise vessel and the need for investment in design. RCCL and its partners, including shipyards, architects and many other professionals, spend about three to five years from concept development to delivery and about a third of this time is solely spent on concept development and design. In such a process, the seamless cooperation between the many partners in the process is a must. The importance of cooperation has also increased over the years as the amount of work done in-house by the yard has de creased by roughly half over the last 10–15 years. In fact, Mr. Kulovaara predicts that much more standardization and industrialization will go into the ship yards’ manufacturing processes moving forward. Mr. Kulovaara foresees processes much more like those of the car industry in the future. 

The whole process to build a vessel like Allure of the Seas takes about 9 to 10 million working hours and starts with understanding customer expectations. The primary goal is not to build the largest possible ship, but the most amazing set of experiences. In fact, Royal Caribbean boasts one of the highest repeat passenger percentages in the cruise market. During the design process, the cooperation between owner and yard is key and in-house involvement is a must, although a certain amount of outsourcing to the best, professional architects and consultants is recommended.

Team spirit between all partners involved and continuous improvement is a prerequisite for success. Mr. Kulovaara concludes that a vessel like Allure of the Seas could not have been built anywhere else than at STX in Finland and also could not have been built ten years ago – without the experience, team-building and continuous improvements that have been made over years developing ever more sophisticated vessels. Developing a new generation of vessel size has proved to be of significance as customers demand more and more activities on board. Compared to top-of-the-line vessels 20 years ago, the number of entertainment facilities on board has increased tenfold. Thus, innovative design is a key success factor in the competitive industry of luxury cruises. However, the development of a new generation of cruise ships focuses not only on the great variety of services and entertainment on board, but also increasingly on environmental aspects and fuel efficiency. RCCL has a 15–25 % energy and carbon foot- print improvement per passenger for the Oasis class compared to their predecessors. This efficiency improvement is not only due to economies of scale as a result of vessel size roughly doubling each decade, but also due to significant improvements in vessel design and propulsion technology.

Safety is another major focus area of RCCL. Safety is built into the vessels by design and in cooperation with the most experienced and famous experts and partners. Risks are constantly rated and new technologies and solutions are used. The design process is also very transparent in relations with all necessary authorities. The logistics of such a venture is unbelievable. From delivery to full operation, RCCL only uses one month – while hotels of much smaller scale typically require three months from hotel completion to full operations. The logistics of boarding and disembarking up to 6,000 passengers during a 10–12 hour port call is equally impressive. SeaFocus 2010 visited the Allure of the Seas as a final point on the agenda. The vessel was truly spectacular and to conclude Mr. Kulovaara explained what it takes to successfully design and have such a vessel built:

• Teamwork.
• Dedication and commitment.
• A supportive environment and corporate culture.
• Leadership that supports innovation.
• Competence and skill.
• Willingness to take risks and manage them efficiently.
• Network of best partners.
• Ability to embrace the lessons learned.


SeaFocus 2010 - article was published in "The Winning Formula" - UnitedLog Consulting Yearbook 2010

The leading Finnish shipping and port forum, Sea Focus, was arranged by UnitedLog for the fourth consecutive year on September 30, 2010. The seminar was a success, with presentations receiving very positive immediate feed-back from the audience. Also the social event that concluded the forum, a visit on board the latest RCCL luxury cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, was a great experience for everyone. The cruiser, which was completed by the end of 2010, is the largest (and obviously most modern) vessel of its kind today. All the presentations at the seminar were of high quality and below we highlight two of them.