SMM 2022: shaping shipping’s future

SMM 2022: shaping shipping’s future

Oct. 3 2022 - 3 min

Once again, the maritime community gathered in Hamburg, Germany for the 30th SMM, the world’s leading maritime-industry trade fair. From September 6 to 9, 2022, 2,000 exhibitors shared insights with more than 30,000 visitors from over 100 nations.

It’s been four years since we were able to come together like this,” says Rolf Stiefel, Regional Chief Executive, Bureau Veritas. “It felt like a homecoming to be back to an in-person SMM – and it was amazing, breathtaking, to see what has happened in terms of developments.

The UN of Shipbuilding

The SMM has been called the “United Nations of Shipbuilding” because it promotes industry-wide exchange and innovation. This collaboration will help achieve industry-specific and global sustainability goals.

Decarbonization was certainly top of mind for all attendees. “We covered all the main topics in our conversations," says Rolf. “That includes decarbonization, supported by digitalization for greater efficiency, future propulsion and future fuels. But what was clearest to me is that the sense of urgency and motivation have ramped up since the last event.

Thinking tactically about carbon capture

While some at SMM looked to the challenge of deploying green ammonia as fuel, Rolf moderated a panel on a technology ready to cut emissions in the immediate future: carbon capture. “With the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulation coming into force in January 2023,” he explains, “we need to offer practical, or tactical, solutions for shipowners to reduce their carbon emissions simply and cost effectively.

Onboard CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) is not so different overall to the scrubber systems we know today, and innovation is ongoing to make the systems more compact and easier to install. It’s not mission impossible but there is work to be done: we need infrastructure for CO2 sequestration, and we need crews to be trained in CCS systems. I am hopeful that this technology will provide a simpler means for ship owners to comply with regulations in the near future.

Spotlight on wind power

Wind-assisted propulsion has begun to spark increased interest within the maritime industry, especially as decarbonization could raise fuel costs. Britta Schulz, Services Manager North & Central Europe at Bureau Veritas, spoke on the Global Maritime Environmental Congress (GMEC) panel, “Wind propulsion – The time is now.” 

“We saw that wind-assisted propulsion technology has reached a high maturity level,” says Britta. “Kite, rotor and wing sails can assist engine propulsion to reduce fuel consumption, but Bureau Veritas is also working on projects that are investigating wind propulsion as their main means of propulsion, particularly for small ships with sails.”

We have also developed Rules for wind propulsion systems to support the cutting-edge development of this centuries-old technology.

The lowdown on digitalization

Meanwhile, the fair’s Digital Transition Stage showcased new products and innovations for automation, digitalization and data management.

When it comes to ship digitalization, tangible results are hard to quantify for many,” says Rolf. “People understand the benefits – the operational and energy efficiency gains – but implementing a system that touches every aspect of your onshore and offshore operations is a huge undertaking. This is certainly an area where we can make a contribution as a class society.

Overall, SMM was an enormously positive experience,” says Rolf. “Class has a vital role to play in guiding the industry through these changes and so it is important for us to be active and supportive. Not least, at events like these we can encourage collaboration and help to bring in new talents to the maritime sector to accelerate its transformation.