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At SMM, Wärtsilä Issues Call to Action

At SMM, Wärtsilä Issues Call to Action
On Wednesday at the SMM trade show in Hamburg, technology group Wärtsilä announced a new initiative to address "unprecedented global change" through cooperation between maritime cities.

“We simply cannot afford to wait for the marine and energy industries to evolve at their own pace,” said Wärtsilä president and CEO Jaakko Eskola in a statement. “Rapid acceleration to benefit the entire sector, as well as society at large, is urgently required."

Wärtsilä says that the aim of its new "SEA20" network is to connect 20 of the world's top marine cities by 2020 for dialogue on ways to support a sustainable marine sector. According to the firm's chief digital officer, Marco Ryan, the network will support the adoption of best practices, embrace digitalization and legislate new, environmentally friendlier ways of doing business.

“Our solutions have already been addressing sustainability needs in the maritime industries for years,” said Kari Hietanen, Wärtsilä’s EVP for corporate relations and legal affairs. “But . . . it’s time for the world to wake up to the genuinely transformative potential of the marine sector, and the role its rapid development will play in each of our lives.”  

A call to action

In a press conference Wednesday, Wärtsilä director of strategy Mauro Sacchi called for a sea change in the way that the industry addresses shared challenges. 

"The ocean is our joint responsibility, it's something we have a shared heritage about," he said. "But there's a bottleneck that's stopping us from achieving that vision . . . and that bottleneck is a lack of general awareness and engagement. It's also about peer pressure or the lack of peer pressure to do something different." 

Sacchi called on all members of the industry to join the effort, "wake up" and "be daring." He highlighted Wärtsilä's own investments in sustainable technology, like its purchase of efficiency monitoring firm Eniram, but he suggested that it would take much more than his company's efforts alone to make change. 

"We have to work and collaborate together differently," Sacchi said. "And we want you to be part of that, whether you are a government, a classification society, a politician, customer or a partner, an innovator, an investor, an entrepreneur, a competitor."

The call to action complements Wärtsilä's own predictions of a "Smart Marine Ecosystem" of interconnected, digitally-enabled actors and assets. The company says that its ecosystem approach could help address three large sources of inefficiency: overcapacity, poor port-to-port fuel consumption, and waiting times when entering ports. In this vision, these persistent issues could be reduced through shared shipping capacity; big data analytics to optimize operations; high-tech, intelligent vessels; and "smart ports."

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