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Last month Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) Germany announced the formation of a pilot partnership with software start-up Signol that applies behaviour-based data science to reduce the fuel consumption and carbon emissions of its vessels. Bunkerspot speaks to the company’s Managing Director, Nick Topham, to find out more.


Nick Topham cropped flag

As part of the pilot partnership with Signol, each participating crew member will receive individualised targets which are calculated based on the crew’s recent performance. What kind of targets will these be?

Nick Topham: We currently measure three behaviours and set KPIs against them which are related to fuel oil consumption and cylinder oil consumption. Targets are set in percentages of reduction and are adapted over time depending on the individual seafarer’s performance.

Your studies have shown that changing the Master’s behaviour alone could result in over 5% lower fuel usage. What kind of decisions will generate such efficiency?

Decisions related to speed optimisation such as selecting the optimum speed for the vessel can lead to a reduction. In addition, we also consider trim and draft optimisation which can reduce hull resistance and therefore fuel use. We also see potential for masters to improve performance during port operations, manoeuvres or pilotages. Chief Engineers can optimise engine management, i.e., they can run engines efficiently and optimise cylinder oil feed rates.

Announcing the pilot partnership last month, BSM Germany highlighted the potential for environmental improvement in the shipping sector. Can you elaborate on this?

BSM keenly anticipates commitments from International Maritime Organization that reduce shipping’s reliance on fossil fuels and considers all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by our operations as essential and relevant to monitor and reduce.

To achieve low carbon operations by 2050, we assigned a dedicated team within BSM that consists of experts who examine developments in energy efficiency technologies and the potential clean fuel pathways which will become widely available and commercially viable in the near future. Currently, we are developing a decarbonisation strategy with clear, measurable, and achievable goals that can lead us to a greener future.

Our expertise lies in enhancing operational and technical vessel efficiency and BSM utilises the partnerships formed within the Schulte Group and our broader network to contribute to the development of innovative energy efficiency technologies and solutions.

In addition to Signol, are there any other strategic partnerships that BSM Germany is involved with?

At BSM we always seeking opportunities to share and leverage our expertise through joint ventures (JV) and partnerships. In 2020 we established a JV with MariApps (a maritime digital solutions provider) and Navidium PLC (a cleantech company) to jointly develop advanced performance solutions for vessels, focusing on telemetry, AI and edge computing.

BSM contributes to the JV by evaluating these solutions on our managed fleet and providing further improvement requirements. This feedback supports MariApps’ development and release of additional functionalities.

One solution currently being trialled on six of our full-managed vessels as part of the JV is a Voyage Optimisation app. The application goes beyond weather routing optimisation by incorporating additional parameters such as parametric rolling, trim and port congestion. Additionally, the app provides onboard analytics on factors such as the hull and engine conditions, which enables proactive maintenance and maximises vessel parts’ life cycle, reducing wastage. Further through the analytics, we can monitor the performance difference between the planned and the actual route.

The JV is also developing a Real-time Performance Monitoring (RPM) app, which contains office tools related to voyage and performance analysis.

Does BSM Germany have a view on the future of marine fuels (e.g. LNG, scrubbers, biofuels, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen etc?)

BSM’s ultimate goal is to support the development of zero-carbon fuels, which we will do through strategic partnerships and innovation-focused investments. It is critical to find alternatives fuels that can be used to power new ships once the global supply, infrastructure and markets are developed. However, achieving carbon neutrality requires systemic and incremental change driven by the introduction of mid-term and long-term solutions.

BSM has introduced transitional fuels like LNG and is deepening its expertise in the segment. Burning LNG is much cleaner and drops carbon dioxide emissions by 20-30% compared to traditional fuels, however it is still not a carbon-free fuel. Whilst a carbon-free bunkers landscape develops we recommend for the interim the use of transitional fuels, such as LNG, combined with energy efficiency measures.

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