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Finnish maritime companies move ahead full sail

The Finnish maritime cluster consists of about 3 000 companies representing various fields of business.

Albin Berlin / Pexels

Finland’s Wärtsilä, Steerprop and Grove Technologies have all inked new contracts this summer. Elomatic, meanwhile, has set up a subsidiary in Germany.

Wärtsilä has been appointed to digitalise the maritime operations of all 21 ports operated by Associated British Ports, the largest ports group in the UK.

Wärtsilä Voyage and Associated British Ports announced last week they have signed a five-year framework agreement to digitalise the ports to make them as efficient, safe and sustainable as possible. The technologies to be deployed at the ports will enable port employees to meet their targets, complement safety protocols during operations and optimise vessel planning and movements, thus also contributing to the optimisation of local, national and global supply chains.

“This is a landmark contract that will have a profound impact on the sustainability, resilience and efficiency of global supply chains,” declaredHåkan Angervall, CEO of Wärtsilä.

“Holistic and seamless technological solutions are critical to ensuring that ports, and the maritime industry more broadly, are ahead of the curve in terms of supply-chain modernisation, that operations are future-proofed and that data underpins decisions,” added Sean Fernback, CEO of Wärtsilä Voyage.

The deployment will be carried out in multiple phases. Wärtsilä Voyage will begin the endeavour by integrating its vessel traffic and port management information services into the systems of Port of Southampton by April 2023.

Angervall viewed that Wärtsilä Voyage can assume a central role in helping the maritime industry to meet its emissions reduction targets and remains an integral element of the group’s pursuit of genuine and long-term change in the industry.

Wärtsilä has set out to digitalise 21 ports in the UK. Image: Wärtsilä

The maritime industry has been a major source of employment and prosperity throughout history in Finland.

Wärtsilä is part of a domestic cluster that currently consists of around 3 000 companies, including 10 shipyards – which have spawned one of the world’s largest networks subcontractor networks – numerous equipment manufacturers, design and software offices, and offshore technology suppliers. The companies provided employment to approximately 25 000 people and generated a turnover of 7.7 billion euros in 2020.

The country’s 26 shipowners have almost 110 ships in foreign traffic, while altogether 700 vessels around the globe sail under the Finnish flag. About 90 per cent of Finnish imports and exports are today transported by sea, according to the Finnish Shipowners’ Association.

With the volume of seaborne trade more than doubling globally between 1990 and 2020 and shipping-related greenhouse gas emissions rising by almost five per cent year-on-year in 2021, the need for greener and more efficient technologies remains urgent. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced it intends to halve emissions from global shipping by 2050. Shipowners in Finland, meanwhile, have adopted the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by the midway point of the century.

Solutions from Southwest Finland

Steerprop in August revealed it has been awarded a contract to supply a complete propulsion package for a first-of-its-kind wind installation vessel built for Denmark’s Maersk Supply Service by Sembcorp Marine, a global marine and offshore engineering group based in Singapore.

The Rauma, South-west Finland-based company will supply the shipbuilder six of its ducted L-drive azimuth propellers with an output power of 4 500 kilowatts and two 900-kilowatt tunnel thrusters to enable dynamic positioning, manoeuvring and transit operations. Also part of the package is a condition monitoring service to support safe and reliable operation.

The jack-up vessel features a unique design with a load transfer system patented by Maersk Supply Service.

“This innovative concept builds on our maritime expertise to ensure a more efficient installation of wind parks,” commentedFrederik Smidth, chief technical officer at Maersk Supply Service. “Central to efficient operations will be the thruster package to be delivered by Steerprop.”

The design imposed significant requirements for propulsion effectiveness and reliability given the tough sea conditions the vessel is expected to face serving a wind power project off the eastern coast of the US. Steerprop and Sembcorp Marine have collaborated closely on the project throughout the design process.

“This project emphasises our capabilities to deliver a broad package of high-quality solutions that meet the latest design requirements and operational needs,” viewed Olli Knihti, sales manager at Steerprop.

Elomatic, a Turku-based consulting and engineering company, set up a subsidiary called Elomatic Maritime Solutions in Wismar, Germany, in June.

The German subsidiary, it said, will focus on challenging ship design and offshore wind-power projects, strengthening its basic and concept design expertise and enhancing its ability to serve shipping companies, operators and shipyards around the world. The subsidiary will initially employ around 30 marine industry professionals and draw broadly on the shipbuilding competence found around the Baltic Sea.

Elomatic employs more than 1 100 professionals around the world. Image: Elomatic / Facebook

Wismar offers access to experienced professionals in shipbuilding and offshore construction due to, for example, the presence of MV Werften, a German-Hong Kong shipbuilding company.

“I am really happy to welcome a group of true shipbuilding professionals to our team,” stated Rami Hirsimäki, senior vice president of marine and offshore at Elomatic. “Their experience with offshore wind power ships and infrastructures, green technologies, Arctic ships, governmental vessels and cruise ships strengthens every area where Elomatic wants to be number one in the world.”

Guido Schulte, the newly appointed chief executive of Elomatic Maritime Solutions, said the subsidiary will bring strong expertise to not only Germany, but also the traditional markets of Elomatic.

“Elomatic provides a good foundation for building a ship design unit in Germany,” he viewed.

Hailing from the same city in Southwest Finland, Groke Technologies announced at the start of the summer it has signed its first customer contract.

The company revealed that the contract will see its situational awareness software on all vessels owned by Tsurumi Sunmarine in Japan. The software, it told, is expected to help to ensure the safety of the voyage, as well as reduce the burden on crew.

The Japanese shipping company, which has transported petroleum products by sea since 1947, will install the system on its whole fleet of 150 tankers all the while supporting the modernisation of the shipping industry in Japan. The first installations are scheduled to be made later this year.

Groke Technologies recently also revealed it has established a branch office in Japan.

Smooth waters ahead for aqua industry

Finnish waterborne activities are not limited to moving goods and people from one place to another, though.

The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) in August revealed it has allocated six years of funds for a programme promoting the digitalisation and sustainable growth of aquaculture and fisheries in Finland.

The Finnish programme has a total budget of 140.3 million euros, slightly over a half of which will come from the EU. It is built on several ambitions, including protecting biodiversity, ensuring the sustainable use of fish stocks, and leveraging new technological and circular economy solutions to double aquaculture production by 2030.

Among its more concrete goals are supporting the availability of domestic fish and the development of small-scale fishing activities.

“I am confident that the programme will safeguard the marine environment and conditions for maintaining fish stocks, while supporting the industry’s profitability,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

By: Aleksi Teivainen