ABS reinforces maritime industry through time of transition


The ending of 2019 marks in many ways a jumping-off point for the maritime industry. The era of low sulfur shipping will soon be superseded by the transition to sustainable and ultimately decarbonized shipping industry. The process of digitalization currently at work industry will be one of the enablers for that transition, ushering in new levels of operational efficiency. But in this time of momentous and exciting change, the role of class remains focussed on balancing the demands of innovation and safety.

ABS is a maritime safety leader - How has ABS succeeded in contributing to enhance the international maritime standards?

ABS is a safety-focussed organization that has worked since its foundation to protect the safety of life and property and our contribution to industry standards and practice takes many forms. At the root of this is our own performance; ABS has recorded zero lost time work-related incidents for the second year in a row, with the Lost Time Incident Rate remaining at 0.00 throughout 2017 and 2018.

We work extensively with the International Maritime Organization and International Association of Classification Societies to contribute to the shaping of the regulations that drive safety in our industry, providing practical advice and technical insight on the implications of regulatory changes.

Our work on safety and human factors extends from our own staff to the employees of our clients, with emphasis placed on analysis that ranges from ‘near misses and close calls’ to aid industry stakeholders involved in the design of ships to best reflect the needs of the humans working on them.

The global maritime industry has been witnessing a downturn followed by a steady performance in 2019; can you tell us how ABS has responded?

ABS has undergone an organic process in responding to the downturn in shipping seen over the last decade and we have used this time to better align our product and service offerings to the needs of clients and members, whether it be plan review, advice on regulatory compliance or tackling decarbonization.

In this way, ABS can maintain a globally competitive position with services related to newbuildings, especially in technical tonnage such as gas carriers and ships employing new fuel solutions as well as helping some of the world’s leading shipowners stay compliant and as efficient as possible.

It's clear that the last decade has seen the UAE maritime sector transformed into a fully-fledged maritime hub, with burgeoning local shipping demand and expertise across finance, law and technical services as well as a world-leading logistics infrastructure.

How is ABS using digital technologies to shape the future of maritime?

Digital technologies will power the future, and ABS is already delivering new services in this area and leading by example. Our list of groundbreaking initiatives includes the use of digital technology to simplify transactions and increase operational efficiency, the study of alternative fuels and new energy sources suitable for different shipping sectors, and the analysis of the effects of seaborne trade growth and regulatory targets on new ship designs—and a better understanding on how these factors correlate and mutually influence each other. Additionally, we continue to incorporate new technologies into our certification, validation and verification activities.

From concept to coding, from design to development, from abstraction to application, the digital age for us is marked by collaboration, in which the expertise and innovative imaginations of widely diverse people throw open the doors to the future. This collaboration stretches beyond traditional barriers of position, place and platform to overcome challenges related to enhanced safety, smarter risk and reliability solutions, improved operational efficiency, better asset management, continuous self-improvement and feasible environmental sustainability, alongside other technology-centric endeavors.

The ultimate goal of ABS’ digital strategy is known as ‘Condition-Based-Class’ where sensor-equipped ships report the performance and health of onboard equipment, enabling the owner and ABS to accurately predict when components or system require service or replacement. ABS is already working on a number of CBC pilot projects, including with a major UAE OSV operator.

ABS has a key role to play in helping the industry reduce emissions from shipping; can we have an overview of ABS sustainable initiatives?

Sustainability is a significant challenge affecting the marine, offshore, government and energy industries. Meeting regulatory targets for the low-carbon economy will require radical operational and technology advances, in which safety and environmental management is the cornerstone and digital technologies are key enablers.

For this reason, ABS continues expanding our digital capabilities to transform the ABS Class experience for the industry and our clients—providing highly-rated independent guidance to leverage data throughout the life of their assets—all founded on a solid tradition of innovation in the service of safety. This extends to helping our clients pursue the decarbonization necessary for the low-carbon economy—which requires balancing long-term investments in innovation, against immediate and shorter-term business imperatives.