The future of digitization through the eyes of ‘Mr.


As shipowners struggle to determine the best ways to take advantage of digital solutions, Tor Svanes, CEO of NAVTOR, is a treasure trove of information and insights, past, present and future. Svanes is an ECDIS pioneer with a long personal connection to the technology that lies at the center of unlocking the value of digitization.

Maritime is apparently embedded in Norway’s DNA. The country and its people have thrived by living on, under and around the seas, while respecting potential perils and the environment itself.

Tor Svanes, CEO of NAVTOR, is the symbol of Norwegian courage, a true pioneer of ECDIS emerging from a small Norwegian town and evolving into a visionary business and technology leader.

With its enabling technologies, NAVTOR is now at the heart of the digitalization and decarbonization transformation that is beginning to sweep the maritime industry globally.

“First of all, it’s all based on my love of the sea,” Svanes said during his recent interview with Maritime Reporter TV in Oslo. “I’ve been at sea since I was born more or less, so for me it was just natural to try and go to sea whenever I could.”

Extensive experience
Svanes’ parents wouldn’t allow the young Tor to go to sea until he was 18, so he went down the road as an apprentice electrician until he started his career as a sailor with Smedvig at 18. He sailed for two years during an interesting time for the maritime. industry as more modern vessels with increasingly sophisticated electronics began to become the norm rather than the exception. The shipping company, with training as an electrician from Svanes, “took it for granted that I knew everything about the new. So I made the decision: I can’t do this if I don’t find out what’s going on inside these boxes. »

So Svanes started out in a technical school, but ended up in a Norwegian technical university, where he earned a master’s degree in cybernetics.

“In a way, it was good because I was older than the other students and had a lot of practical knowledge. I could imagine most of the things we discussed, because I knew what it was like in real life.

His love for the sea and his practical knowledge of sailing combined with his university technical background set Svanes firmly on the path to maritime digitalization even before the maritime sector itself understood where he was heading.

“I was at NorShipping 30 years ago to present ECDIS to the King of Norway, giving him ECDIS for his royal yacht,” Svanes said. “So it’s been going on for a while.”

Fast forward to 11 years ago, when in January 2011 Svanes was kicked out of C-Map Norway, the company under his leadership that had become one of the world’s leading suppliers of electronic maps. Four years earlier, C-Map Norway had been acquired by Jeppesen Marine from The Boeing Company, but the new owners and Svanes had a different view of the company’s goals and strategy.

For Svanes, the end was a new beginning, and starting with a clean sheet he got the breathing room he needed to build a new company – NAVTOR – based on his understanding of the future of seafaring. : the cloud based on the Pay-As-You Sail concept. And with Smedvig now as the majority shareholder, the company gained the financial muscle it needed.

“Digitization”: easier said than done
The word “digitization” has become an industry-wide buzzword, used with increasing frequency and volume by a growing legion of digital solution providers. But Svanes warns that not all solutions are cut from the same cloth.

“When they talk about digitization, it’s not that simple. The difficulty is getting the data on the ship, because that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about emissions and fuel consumption,” Svanes said. “You need ship data. So being the biggest player in e-navigation, it was natural for us to move into performance” and all that that entails.

According to Svanes, the key factor that makes NAVTOR really stand out is its complete focus on delivering an integrated solution.

“There are many companies that do performance; there are also many companies that do e-Navigation. But I think only NAVTOR can really set this up as an integrated solution where you only enter data once,” Svanes said. In this regard, NAVTOR’s digital logbook plays a central role, allowing owners to insert data in one place, at a time, creating a repository of data and information that is leveraged into solutions and reports. integrated into the ship.

“You only enter the data once and it’s used across all systems, but for that you first need to have an integrated solution and all the pieces that go with it.”

To this end, Svanes realized that with the pace of technological change, it was impractical for NAVTOR to create the complete solution in-house. With that, NAVTOR recently bought two companies: “Tres Solutions, which takes care of the performance part, and Ingenium Marine which brought the digital logbooks.” This effectively enabled Svanes’ vision of a complete integrated solution to generate a complete overview of what is happening on the vessel.

These acquisitions, and likely future acquisitions, were fueled by the company’s evolution from a privately owned family business.

“It was a big change for us going from a family business to a private equity firm, but it suddenly opened doors for us,” Svanes said. “Since we were invested as a platform, that meant we also had to make acquisitions, and that’s what we did. With Tres and Ingenium now in the fold to “complete our circle with integrated solutions,” we probably need to do more mergers and acquisitions. Time flies and we don’t have time to develop everything ourselves.

Another key platform for NAVTOR is its NavStation software, a transit planning system that is constantly being developed and updated. “The last thing we’re showing now is auto-routing,” which takes into consideration all vessel and environmental variables to help create the most efficient and effective route.

“I think this is the most advanced auto-routing on the market today,” Svanes said, integrating and deploying the latest updates in artificial intelligence and marine learning, bringing it all down to the issue of sustainability. Burning less fuel means more efficiency, profitability and less impact on the environment.

“The great part is not only making the complex simple, but also making it easy.”

The future
While companies like NAVTOR continue to invest in next-generation solutions, Svanes admits that many shipowners will not make the changes and investments until they are forced to do so by regulations.

“It’s still very regulatory driven, with performance and emissions control (and all the required reporting) driving it today,” noting that the first question is usually “what’s the minimum I can do? “

Along with efficiency and reduced emissions, autonomous vessels are another key driver for NAVTOR’s future, and the company has been involved in projects around vessel control.

“To be clear, we’re not in the business of control, we’re in the business of information and navigation surveillance,” Svanes said. “But we will certainly play a role as we move towards autonomous ships.”

But he admits the autonomous “revolution” will take a very long time, slowly passing at first with fewer people on board before evolving to full autonomy. “We are already seeing this happening in Norway in some local areas where they have self-contained vessels, but for international shipping it will take a long time. Don’t forget that you have 60,000 IMO ships sailing today and they will live for another 20 to 25 years. So it won’t happen overnight. »


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