New strategies and technologies at SMM

Around 50,000 visitors attended shipping's largest technology trade fair last week (credit: Hamburg Messe und Congress/Nicolas Maack) Around 50,000 visitors attended shipping's largest technology trade fair last week (credit: Hamburg Messe und Congress/Nicolas Maack)

Around 50,000 visitors from more than 120 countries attended the SMM trade fair in Hamburg last week, highlighting the increasingly strategic role played by technology in shipping.

A total of 2,289 exhibitors occupied thirteen halls covering a total of 93.000m2. New features this year included the Maritime 3D-Printing Show Area and the TradeWinds Shipowners Forum.

Bernd Aufderheide, president and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress, said: “SMM 2018 was a full success, not only for us as the organisers but also, and especially so, for the exhibitors and visitors.”

The next SMM will take place in Hamburg on 8-11 September 2020.

COMMENT: New fuels, new digital solutions and new business models dominated discussion at SMM 2018. Highlights for The Motorship included the launch of the first LPG two-stroke engine, an ExxonMobil sponsored roundtable on engine challenges and data solutions post-2020, and some emerging approaches to engine and machinery financing that could offer a radically different business case for ship owners.

The coming years herald deep change for the shipping sector. Driven by two monumental legislative changes – the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap and its greenhouse gas reduction strategy – the way we power ships will change fundamentally. At events like SMM the industry presents its vision for the way forward.

This year, that vision focused on overcoming the technical challenges of the sulphur cap and providing a glimpse of the fuels of the future. In 2020 the fuel market may not be so different, although new low-sulphur blends will offer new challenges for operators. But soon after that, the decarbonisation of marine power will be critical – be it through electrification, clean fuels or power-to-gas technologies. Across all these challenges, digitalisation will prove both an added investment and, perhaps, a saving grace.

This reporter has often felt that there has never been a better time to be covering the technology driving the shipping industry. This week confirmed that feeling once again. For shipping journalists, SMM is just the start. Over the coming weeks the real stories will emerge as we bring our findings out of our notebooks and into the public domain.

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