Ocean racing is a neat parallel to draw from when looking at how satcom can revolutionise maritime operations. In the Volvo Ocean Race for instance, way before SAILOR FleetBroadband antennas were installed across the fleet, the yachts would drop videotapes into cans on floating buoys, to be picked up before any on board action could be shown on TV. Or perhaps a navy RIB would run alongside and collect the tapes. Today, high definition footage is beamed direct to race HQ.
What does this mean for shipping operations? Simply that we now have the bandwidth and technical capability to make vessels and fleets more digital. Today, HD video conferences for collaborating with on shore experts are practically trivial. But we can do so much more with satcoms, and considering economic and environmental pressures, maximising the wide availability of maritime broadband is vital to the sustainability of global shipping.
Maritime operations are becoming more digital, with a multitude of jobs and processes now done using the internet rather than paper. From electronic forms, navigation chart downloads, vessel monitoring and port communication to business emails, phone calls and transactions, connectivity has already changed the way ships operate and is delivering a tangible ROI for those smart operators that embrace the best technologies, services and partners.
Further still, the multitude of data a ship and fleet generates can be leveraged to streamline and enhance performance across the entire operational spectrum. Prime examples are engine monitoring and electronic route planning, both of which can deliver a step-change in optimising fuel consumption, reducing operational costs significantly and enabling tough new environmental regulations to be adhered to.
Maritime digitalisation also has the ability to consolidate more operations into fewer workflows. The result being more efficient and integrated working and the ability to analyse disparate data types to discover trends that may not have been apparent before. A number of cutting-edge digital platforms are aiming to deliver this breakthrough and it’s conceivable that a ship or fleet may one day operate within a single cloud-based ecosystem.
Of course, if the maritime industry does reach this point, satcom will be the enabler. Reliable, feature rich antennas are a must today, but just as the potential consolidation of digital processes into a single solution can provide efficiencies, choosing a single partner with a satellite antenna portfolio able to meet your needs, on your terms is the only way to ensure the availability of a satellite link to keep your ships and fleet smart.