Big Deal: Tor Svanes Explains How NAVTOR's Merger Unlocks Opportunities


Published Jun 18, 2024 5:52 PM by NAVTOR


NAVTOR’s surprise merger with Voyager Worldwide created a giant in the smart shipping technology niche. Here Tor Svanes, NAVTOR Founder and CEO, explains how the industry can benefit from an integrated, intelligent and innovative approach to an increasingly complex business and operational reality.

“I think we took a few people by surprise,” smiles Tor Svanes, commenting on the deal that launched NAVTOR into the smart shipping stratosphere late last year.

The Norwegian maritime technology company, a long-time leader in e-navigation solutions, moved to merge with Singapore-headquartered Voyager Worldwide, a group with a heritage stretching back over 200 years, in December. As a result, Voyager’s staff – some 200 specialists – and substantial customer base migrated beneath the NAVTOR umbrella, creating a single business entity with products and services on over 18,000 vessels (roughly a third of the entire, relevant, world fleet).

“We were, of course, already one of the main players in both e-Navigation and performance monitoring, management and optimization,” Svanes says, “but this transformed our organization overnight.”

He adds: “We now want to help our customers do the same and, with the scale and strength this union delivers, we’re perfectly placed to do just that.”

How so?

Easy does it

Svanes says that everything the company does is anchored by the mission of “making life easier” for users, shipping businesses, and the industry in general. In an increasingly complex maritime world – defined by evolving regulations, sustainability concerns and commercial considerations – that sounds like an impossible task.

Svanes begs to differ.

“From day one we’ve looked to innovate smart digital solutions that tackle industry pain points,” he comments. “These have effectively slashed administration, enhanced safety, heightened control, and delivered powerful environmental and business efficiencies for our customers. It’s an approach embedded within our DNA.”

The solutions, which we’ll get on to shortly, interact and support each other within NAVTOR’s secure “digital ecosystem”, empowered by a constant flow of shared, high-quality, broad-based, and business-critical data. The result is an integrated family of smart shipping innovations that unite ship and shore, constantly working to unlock value.

“We understand both shipping and the power of data,” Svanes states, “connecting that domain expertise through innovation can empower sustainability, in both the commercial and environmental sense.”

Real-time benefits

Examples of this abound in NAVTOR’s portfolio. The company has the market’s leading Passage Planning module on its NavStation digital chart table (the world’s first) – automating and simplifying an otherwise demanding task – while NavFleet, an onshore “total ship operations and performance platform”, has recently been upgraded with features such as an Emissions Calculator, empowering both CII compliance and savings. Digital Logbooks are currently a key focus area, providing an integrated, auto-populated, standardized, and immensely valuable source of big data for ambitious shipping businesses.

“The logbooks are a neat encapsulation of how we work,” Svanes says. “They simplify tasks for crews, dragging these time-consuming, often error-prone, analog ways of working into the present day and delivering huge potential for real-time data monitoring, operational optimization, and continually enhanced sustainability. This is something that our existing customers, and now Voyager’s established user base, can really take advantage of. The savings – in terms of time, money, overall business efficiency, and emissions – multiply as more and more of our solutions roll out, and work together, across the global fleet.”

Enabling progress

The scale of NAVTOR’s ambitions, and the impact the newly enlarged team can have on the shipping world, is emphasized in a new AI research project called GASS (Green AI for Sustainable Shipping)*. With NAVTOR at the fore, this three-year partnership looks to help drive the “data-driven decarbonization” of the entire industry.

The concept revolves around creating AI empowered digital twins of vessels to showcase optimal real-time fuel consumption for any ship, sailing anywhere, in any conditions. Actual vessel performance can then be addressed in line with this benchmark, resulting in the industry’s first meaningful ‘dynamic voyage optimization’ tool. Svanes says the module, once complete, will be integrated into NavFleet.

“We believe advanced AI algorithms can enable energy and emissions savings of around 20% per vessel,” he concludes. “Imagine those benefits multiplied across over 18,000 vessels.

“The fact that this is possible might catch a few (more) people by surprise – but we can do this. That’s the potential of true smart shipping!”

*GASS is a partnership with Grieg Star, Maritime CleanTech, Scandinavian Reach Technologies, Simula Research Laboratory, SinOceanic Shipping, and Sustainable Energy/SIVA, with support from the Norwegian Research Council, Innovation Norway, and SIVA.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.