The biggest buzz at Nor Shipping was created by the exhibitors who chose to promote their wares by painting the bodies of almost-naked young women on their stand. The event organisers instructed the exhibitor to desist from sexist marketing and issued an apologetic press release. It’s hard to really believe shipping is an authentically 21st century industry when organisations still favour such crude and ineffective communication techniques.
We took a look around the sprawling exhibition space; was there much new to be seen? The short answer is: not really. Wartsila launched a new engine - their most efficient ever. But no gamechanger. An international exhibition is as much about being present and networking and in that regard Nor-Shipping is very successful - judging by the number of parties hosted each evening.
New to this year’s event was a presentation forum where shipping industry leaders and experts in commerce, law and technology shared thoughts and views. The biggest on-trend concepts being discussed were ‘big data’ and ‘automation’. Professor Richard Clegg, MD, LR Foundation was fascinating about how much data was currently, and how much more would be in the future, available from ships and shipping. He spoke of ‘Smart Materials’ that would be able to tell you when they were wearing out and that, over time, the data would reveal patterns so maintenance could be pre-empted to save money. Oskar Levander VP Marine, Rolls-Royce combined both themes developing his autonomous ship vision pointing to the use of Big Data to make humans on board redundant. Dr Martin Stopford’s key message was Big Data could squeeze 30% financial and efficiency savings out of shipping through new business models predicated on “management rather than gambling”. Dr Stopford declared shippings’ existing modus operandi to be a ‘dead parrot’ -which as all Monty Python fans know was a Norwegian parrot! 3D printing or ‘additive manufacturing’ threatened the shipping industry, as many of the finished goods currently moved by sea could be ‘emailed’; whilst simultaneously providing opportunities for printing spare parts on board. In renewables NorsePower announced the results of their test of a lightweight material flettner rotor revealing fuels savings of 2.6% had been accrued. Bore the ship owner was pleasantly pleased.
In truth when we stepped out of the event and remembered that the German Chancellor is a woman, as is the Head of the IMF, and that the oil industry majors were pleading for a carbon tax and then learn that G7 leaders have committed to a total decarbonisation programme it felt that shipping was still stuck in the 20th century.
And the exhibitors with the painted ladies - no one can remember their name.