Will investments in digital technology pay off? This question remains top of mind for many shipowners, ship managers and charterers.

According to Smarty Mathew John, vice president of digital solutions at ABS, pilot projects are a critical first step in the pursuit of maximum returns.

“As you adapt new technologies, as in any other industry that’s coming up with new, innovative capabilities, its always good to go in and do a pilot, on one or two vessels…if you are able to reap the benefits from that initial investment, that’s when you go in and make a commitment to scale up across your fleet,” he says.

Today, operational efficiencies are the biggest driver of investments in digital tech in light of decarbonisation. In a recent conversation with TradeWinds Content Studio, Mathew John also advised that these investments will payoff in other ways as well, such as providing intelligence needed to guide decisions surrounding fleet composition in the face of changing market and regulatory dynamics.

Despite the myriad ways that digitalisation can aid owners, now and in the future, Mathew John acknowledges that implementing new technologies—and choosing the right providers— can be daunting. This is, in part, what inspired ABS to link an alliance programme to its My Digital Fleet platform, a customisable platform that integrates ship data to achieve sustainable operations while reducing operational risks.

Current partners include Veson Nautical, Sofar Ocean, Kongsberg Digital, AVEVA, Control Risks and Meteomatics, among others.

When it comes to realising the full potential of digital innovation, Mathew John describes the journey as “a team sport”.

“Rather than thinking about competition [when building My Digital Fleet], the goal was to look at upcoming start-ups and scale-ups and other more established industry providers, and see what they bring to the table…rather than try to reinvent the wheel, we wanted to see how we could partner with them to bring all the information into my Digital Fleet, a single platform where you can get all your insights… weather, voyage optimisation and vessel performance, it’s a turnkey solution that can solve all your problems,” he says.