Marine transport is still one of the most carbon efficient means of transport for international trade. Currently, the shipping sector accounts for two to three per cent of global carbon emissions, fiercely working to decrease its output year-by-year in view of the IMO 2050 strategy. However, decarbonising logistics is as critical as it is difficult to achieve. Emerging solutions and latest technologies might prove to be powerful tools to support the low-carbon transition in transport.
In 2020, Innoport, the venture capital unit of the Schulte Group, made a strategic investment in London-based software startup Signol. The software platform aims to use behavioural nudges and incentives to cut fuel waste, significantly reduce firms’ fuel cost and make employees happier.
“The idea to exert behavioural science and latest technology to improve the fuel efficiency of vessels, as done successfully before in the airline industry, was one we could not get out of our head,” says Niklas Körner, Investment Manager at Innoport.
Fast forward one year, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) Germany has formed a strategic and innovative pilot partnership applying behaviour-based data science to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions of the vessels under its management.
Together with Signol, BSM is exploring how giving personalised performance feedback to its Masters and Chief Engineers can positively impact their behaviour in selecting the optimum speed for the vessel and ultimately lead to more fuel-efficient voyages. BSM’s operational data analytics per vessel are combined with cutting-edge behavioural science in a dedicated app built by Signol, creating personalised targets and feedback for each crew member.
“Whilst shipping is the most efficient means of global transport with the lowest carbon emissions, we at BSM believe that the potential for improvement in this field is still immense,” says Nick Topham, Managing Director at BSM Germany. “By introducing our crew to the direct impact of their actions, we hope that we can drive them to make measurable fuel and CO2 savings.”
More than 60 Masters and Chief Engineers on 28 vessels will take part in the pilot project that commenced on 25 August. Over a period of six months, each participating crew member will receive individualised targets via the Signol app which are calculated based on the crew’s recent performance. Every week, the participating seafarers will obtain updates on personal milestones and achievements via the app and email. They can digitally review their voyages and the progress they have made on fuel efficiency and submit their personal feedback via the app, which will contribute towards further improving the solution.
The use of the Signol app onboard BSM-managed vessels intends to not only improve crew decisions with regards fuel consumption, but also aims to boost seafarer morale and wellbeing onboard due to ongoing communication and personal interaction. “Our studies have shown that changing the Master’s behaviour alone could result in over five per cent lower fuel usage as well as in much higher job satisfaction by giving employees a sense of empowerment,” says Dan White, CEO and Co-Founder at Signol. “Achieving carbon neutrality requires structural and incremental change and can only be achieved if corporations act in unison,” added Nick Topham. “That is why BSM is forming strategic partnerships worldwide to develop and implement innovative solutions that monitor and mitigate the environmental impact of our managed fleet.”