Every month we select one Logistics Startup which represents a positive example of innovation in logistics and has the potential to alter the way the industry operates. This month, Transmetrics selected We4Sea, a fuel-efficiency solution for ships, as the March “Logistics Startup of the Month” for its outstanding usage of data analytics to save fuel, decrease emissions and accelerate the sustainability of the shipping industry. In order to learn more about the company and what they do, we talked with Dan Veen, CEO of We4Sea, and asked him several questions about the business.
In short, what services does We4Sea offer? Can you please quickly describe your product?
We4Sea helps shipowners to monitor, analyze and optimize the fuel efficiency of their ships. Using our in-house developed Digital Twin concept, we have developed a radical new way of monitoring sea-going ships. Our tools requiring no new hardware onboard, meaning we can start monitoring any conventionally powered ship within 24 hours and without capital expenditures.
As a founder, do you have a particular story which influenced you to establish the company? To put it simply, what were the main drivers behind the creation of the solution?
Both founders love shipping, but we also have seen that shipping can be improved significantly. We believe that shipping is one of the best modes of transport, expected to grow significantly in the coming years, but needs to be improved to keep up with other modes of transport. Although the efficiency of ships is relatively high, the pollution of ships is still significant. There are many technical options available to improve this, and we like to do our share in making this beautiful industry a bit better.
What is the payback time of fuel monitoring systems?
Fuel-monitoring offers one of the best payback periods of any technology. Cost for monitoring is often lower than 0,5% of the annual fuel costs, meaning that if you can improve your fuel efficiency with more than 0,5% you have a break-even. With historic savings of 5-10%, the payback period is often less than 3 months.
Apart from unoptimized fuel consumption, what other types of inefficiencies could be tackled by digital solutions in the shipping industry?
Digital solutions can be very beneficial in reducing the amount of paperwork, such as cargo documents, noon-reports, compliance, crew logbooks, work hours, etc. You avoid manual errors, re-typing and it enables automated analysis of data.
“Start simply, with the most important data. First, companies should develop a standardized way of reporting. It should cover all the basics, simple things like timezone. Are you reporting in UTC or local time? Use forms that prevent typing mistakes, and have some kind of internal check or prefilled values, such as a set of port names. This supports automated analysis and prevents a lot of manual re-work.”
Dealing with the vast amounts of data from the ships, did you encounter any obstacles, while developing the algorithm? Do you have any advice for the shipping companies on how to improve the data?
My best advice is to start. Do not wait until everything is ready because then you will postpone until you are too late. Start simply, with the most important data. First, companies should develop a standardized way of reporting. It should cover all the basics, simple things like timezone. Are you reporting in UTC or local time? Use forms that prevent typing mistakes, and have some kind of internal check or prefilled values, such as a set of port names. This supports automated analysis and prevents a lot of manual re-work.
We4Sea was founded in 2016, and the company has just turned 2 years. You are fast growing. What were the most important learning points for you as a founder that you’ve experienced during these 2 years?
Take your time when hiring personnel. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with the right team. Sometimes it might look attractive to hire someone to fill a position fast, but it might be better to create the perfect fit. And secondly, always have a plan B, as things very often go differently than expected. And the last but not the least – take some time now and then to enjoy the ride.
According to We4Sea, what does the future hold for the sea/ocean shipping? Can you please share any trends or observations with our readers?
I think in the short term, you will see a demand for transparency coming from consumers and cargo owners. Real-time tracking and monitoring of goods and emissions will be the new normal. Heavy fuel oil will be banned, starting in sensitive areas like the Arctic. Even bigger vessels will be built, sailing at slower speeds, to cope with new emission legislation and higher demands for fuel-efficiency. Also, we will see a remote “sea traffic control”, similar to airplanes. In the long run, more and more automated or even autonomous vessels will start sailing the globe.
If it is not a secret, can you please unveil what are the We4Sea’s big plans for 2018?
First of all, we want to roll out our monitoring solution to 150 vessels. Also, we will launch a new tool where vessel owners can select the best retrofit solution based on their own vessel data. It’s going to be an exciting year!