CCS: Building a digital classification society is vital for industry’s new ecosystem


CCS: Building a digital classification society is vital for industry’s new ecosystem

by Fan Qiang SAFETY4SEA

 March 10, 2023

in Opinions

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In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Mr. Fan Qiang, Vice President of China Classification Society (CCS), refers to key priorities of the CCS agenda for a more sustainable future of shipping.

Mr. Qiang focuses on ways to speed up industry’s digital transformation, explaining how CCS will contribute towards. The aim of CCS is to build a new digital ecosystem of the shipbuilding industry characterized by co-construction, sharing and full participation. Overall, through the application of new technologies, we can accelerate the development and transformation of the shipping industry toward informatization, digitalization, intelligence and autonomy, realize cost reduction and efficiency increase, so as to create a more efficient and economical shipping industry, Mr. Qiang suggests.

Fan Qiang: Clean energy, intelligent ships, autonomous navigation and digital transformation will be the priorities of China Classification Society (CCS) in the next 5 years.

More specifically:

  1. Clean energy: CCS will actively carry out technical research on the whole industrial chain of low-carbon and zero-carbon clean energy/alternative fuels with the aim contribute to the smooth transition of the shipping industry from the stage of “application of energy efficiency technology” to the stage of “application of alternative fuel”.
  2. Intelligent ship and autonomous navigation: CCS, as an important technical support in the shipbuilding and shipping industry, focuses on the leading edge of intelligent ship technological development both at home and abroad
  3. Digital transformation: CCS will make full use of digital technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile internet, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, digital twins and condition monitoring system, strengthen the development of digital remote inspection, digital monitoring technology and supporting software technology, strengthen the construction of engineering computing software, actively build a brand of digital technology, and promote the digital transformation and high-quality development of the industry.

S4S: From your perspective, what are industry’s key challenges? What are your suggestions to move forward?

F.Q.: The industry faces two major challenges in its development. One is decarbonization, and the other is digitalization and network security. With regards to decarbonization, first, there is uncertainty in the selection of technical pathways to achieve decarbonization of shipping. Second, the core equipment including engines using methanol, ammonia and hydrogen and associated supply systems cannot fully support large-scale commercial use.. Third, the process of formulating safety rules and technical requirements for clean energy ships is slow. CCS will further improve the system of rules, regulations and standards for clean energy, and strengthen the formulation and revision of relevant rules, regulations and standards in the aspects such as bunkering of clean energy fuels, operation procedures, safety supervision, crew training, etc.

With regards to digitalization and network security, first, data related policies and regulations around the world are not uniform. Data-related policies and regulations of various countries affect the global data flow to a large extent. Second, data collection is inadequate, and data sharing barriers are widespread. Due to technical and historical reasons, there are few data collected in the life cycle of ship production and operation, thus playing an unobvious role. In addition, data sharing barriers between different units in the industry are widespread, forming a “data island”. Third, advanced digital technology and the shipbuilding industry are not closely integrated. The data standards describing the entire life of ships are not uniform or missing. It is suggested that international industry organizations strengthen coordination, promote international legislation and unify data standards. With the development of ship intellectualization, digitalization and networking, digitalization will inject more new impetus into the shipping industry and bring many structural changes to the industry.

S4S: What has been your contribution towards sustainable shipping? What are some of the major initiatives you have currently undertaken?

F.Q.: In order to promote sustainable shipping, CCS has continuously increased its scientific research investment in ship energy saving and emission reduction as well as in intelligent ships. CCS has actively carried out research on and application of ship energy efficiency, energy saving and emission reduction technology, new energy technology, ship intelligent technology and relevant rules and guidelines, playing an important role in promoting the development of sustainable shipping. The contribution of CCS is mainly reflected in the following aspects:

  • Formulating and publishing rules and guidelines on green technology to provide green technology support for the sustainable development of the industry.
  • Publishing green technology outlook to provide guidance on green development of the industry.
  • Carrying out classification and inspection of ships using alternative fuels to provide services for the sustainable development of the industry.
  • Carrying out research on intelligent ship technology to promote the intelligent and sustainable development of the industry.

S4S: What are the key actions that will make a step change in industry’s performance across a zero-emission future?

F.Q.: (1)  The introduction of innovative technologies and new mechanisms: In terms of emission reduction technology, the application of innovative onboard carbon capture technology will bring new opportunities for shipping emission reduction, which can achieve substantial emission reduction on the existing fossil fuel power, and also form a new closed-loop for carbon dioxide emission and reuse in the shipping industry, thus reducing the impact of shipping activities on the environment. In terms of rules, the introduction of the accounting method of greenhouse gas emissions in the entire life cycle of ships will bring the shipping emission reduction rules into a new field.

(2) The establishment of a stable supply channel for green marine fuels: If energy enterprises, ports and other relevant parties work together to break through the technical bottlenecks and constraints in green fuel preparation, transportation and distribution, and construction of bunkering infrastructures, and resolve the potential challenges of green fuels in terms of availability, economy, and bunkering convenience, we will move faster toward zero emission shipping.

(3)    Development and application maturity of essential marine ancillary equipment: The industry needs to step up the research of key technologies and prototype development of ancillary equipment, and verify technical maturity through a large number of tests and practices, so as to provide equipment support for the safe and efficient application of alternative fuels on ships.

(4)    Global policies and emission reduction initiatives:  The green shipping corridor mode is conducive to the attempt on different low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies and fuels, and is expected to be the next trend and the catalyst for realizing decarbonization of future shipping.

S4S: In your view, what needs to change to raise industry’s profile and attract the future talents? .

F.Q.: As the carrier of the marine economy, the shipping industry is the bridge and link of international trade, and plays an irreplaceable role in promoting economic globalization. Therefore, with the deepening of globalization, it is more necessary for the shipping industry to fit in the trend of green, low-carbon and digital transformation of the international community in a timely manner, make industrial restructuring, accelerate innovation in new technologies such as green and intelligent technologies, speed up the transformation of relevant scientific and technological achievements, improve the scientific and technological level of shipping industrial chains, and promote the high-quality and sustainable development of them. Through the application of new technologies, we should accelerate the development and transformation of the shipping industry toward informatization, digitalization, intelligence and autonomy, realize cost reduction and efficiency increase, so as to create a more efficient and economical shipping industry. We should further explore the potential and value of the industry, enhance the vigorous image of the shipping industry, thus making the shipping industry a dynamic and promising industry which will attract more great talents to join in the future.

S4S: What is your wish list for the industry and/or regulators and all parties involved to build a more sustainable and resilient maritime industry?

F.Q.: Investment and financing support for the future sustainable development of green shipping are to be guaranteed. The competent authorities, shipping enterprises, shipyards, research institutes, equipment manufacturers and other relevant parties should work closely together. As the main participant in the sustainable development of shipping, shipping companies need to consider both business operation and social responsibility. It is hoped that with the joint efforts of the maritime authorities and ship inspection agencies, regulations and technical guidelines will be formulated to promote the application of new technologies and ensure safe operation of ships, so that new technologies can be rapidly applied to the shipping industry, reduce workload of the crew, improve the comfort of the working environment, and ensure the safety of ship operation. Furthermore, we need to speed up digital transformation, use advanced technology and software to manage ships, establish and improve a supervision system on data circulation in the industry as soon as possible, develop a negative list of data circulation and data security, improve efficiency and safety, and reduce costs and environmental impact.

S4S: If you could change one thing in the shipping industry from your perspective, what would it be and why?

F.Q.: It would be digitization of the shipping industry. Digitalization is the trend of the industry. Digital international shipping should focus on the data that can be shared among ports, shipping, logistics, trade, finance and other aspects. A digital information exchange platform is to be established, which can get through booking, warehousing, customs clearance, transportation and other sectors by means of big data connectivity, realize multi-dimensional data resource integration, build an open digital information sharing mechanism, provide domestic and international intelligent logistics partners, and open up the “information island” of the ports along shipping routes, so as to achieve integration and development of e-commerce, Internet technology and traditional shipping business. Digitalization of classification society business refers to the digital upgrading of classification society’s inspection services in three aspects. The first is means of inspection. At present, unmanned aerial vehicles, robots, image recognition technology, etc. have been used to assist inspection. In the future, with the development and application of new technologies, a large number of new equipment will be put into use. The second is the inspection method. On-site witness will be gradually changed, and digital inspection, remote inspection and case-based inspection will be implanted in more occasions. The third is the object of inspection. In the future, with the development of ship intelligence, the inspection mode will evolve to be data-driven, and the inspection object will also change from the inspection of specific equipment to the inspection equipment + verification of the safety of data and the accuracy of data results. Building a digital classification society is an important step taken by CCS in the face of the trend of digital transformation of the industry, and will help to build a new digital ecosystem of the shipbuilding industry characterized by co-construction, sharing, full participation and win-win.

S4S: What is your message to industry stakeholders and your advice to stay competitive amid these challenging times?

F.Q.: The sustainable development of the shipping industry is an important part of the overall green transformation of the entire economic and social development. New energy, intelligent, digital and lightweight transportation equipment will become an important carrier for the sustainable development of shipping in the future. Facing both challenges and opportunities brought by the green transformation and development of shipping, industry stakeholders should actively participate in the establishment of global, regional and national mechanisms on policies and measures of sustainable shipping, and promote and strengthen cross-industry cooperation. We need to drive future development by innovation, keep exploring in the development and application of new energy, new technology and new equipment, actively participate in the trial of new market-based mechanisms or measures in the shipping industry, and increase our own momentum and form a competitive advantage through all-round accumulation of technology and experience.

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes discussion purposes only.

Tags: ChinaCSSdecarbonizationdigitalizationfuture of shippingInterviewssustainability

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Fan Qiang

Fan Qiang

Mr. Fan Qiang is a Senior Engineer and currently serves as Vice President of China Classification Society. Mr. Fan received his Bachelor’s Degree of Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering from Huazhong University of Science & Technology in July 1988 and a MBA degree from Guanghua School of Management, PEKING University in 1999. He used to serve as Deputy Director of International Maritime Affairs Office, Deputy Director, General Manager of Executive Department, and General Manager of London Office of China Classification Society. He also successively served as Assistant President of China Classification Society in 2003, General Manager of Nanjing Branch of China Classification Society in 2009, and General Manager of Jiangsu Branch of China Classification Society in 2012. He became Vice President of China Classification Society in 2016.

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