ECOPRODIGI held its first Consortium meeting in Gothenburg on the 23 and 24 April 2018, hosted by Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) and coordinated by the University of Turku (Finland).

More than 40 people from 21 Project and Associated Partner organisations and institutions attended from 7 different countries around the Baltic Sea Region.

In addition to the updates from the Work Package leaders, the meeting had the objective to facilitate an abundant knowledge transfer between the participants. Despite of being involved in the project, some attendees had not met before, and the capacity of each participant as a knowledge provider was acknowledged.

This objective was indeed successfully achieved through an innovative workshop facilitated by Chalmers University. The participants were asked to be particularly bold and visionary in painting the picture of how the maritime industry in the Baltic Sea Region will look like in 2030.

The following findings emerged:

1. There exists an inter-generational clash in how value for customer is being understood. 

Baby boomers’ thoughts were along the lines of “we cannot ignore the fact that we need to compete with Asia on costs”, at odds with millennials whose statements were along the lines of “we are happy to pay for a premium price and choose companies with excellent environmental and social responsibility profile of their ship operations”.

Could eco-efficiency reconcile the two views?

2. One of the first steps for digitalisation AND process improvement to materialise along the supply chain is achieving inter-operability and alignment between all the different IT systems which connect the focal companies to suppliers, suppliers of suppliers, technology vendors and customers.

Systems and databases need to speak the same language. Currently, in some instances even the alphabets are different.

3. There should be zero people involved in hazardous operations and people with the right competence profile should be included to help the Baltic Sea Region “navigate” the transition towards and in the fourth industrial revolution.

As we progress, computer scientists will learn all about the challenges of measuring fuel efficiency of the ship, and users in the maritime industry like naval architects, design engineers and vessel captains will learn how to harness the potential of big data, AI and virtual reality in their everyday problems. Roles will be mixed and competencies grown!

Interestingly, three responses from different workshop participants stated: “Train train train”, “Implement, implement implement”, “Share share share”. Make a note note note?

4. There is a need to emphasise the value that can be captured by AI tools and Big Data tools during sailing processes, cargo stowage processes and shipyard processes.

How to convert these two from being just buzzwords to decision-support tools that can use to improve eco-efficiency? How to design cases/ prototypes that represent the real-world, everyday problems that were brought up?

Fortunately, the workshop did not solely present the problems and challenges, but also solutions; some ideas were proposed and will be developed further in the project work packages – watch this space for future developments!