Tokyo-headquartered WNI Weathernews is already a heavyweight in the maritime market having supported ship masters and shore operators on millions of voyages over the last 50 years. Many may not be familiar with the name but that’s about to change as it aims for pole position as the preferred single source of digital fleet management services designed to minimise risk and maximise profits.
As a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) shipping is a challenge for supply chains globally. “Our suite of innovative services will be invaluable for owners and operators as emissions abatement and performance monitoring become increasingly urgent,” says Antonio Brizzo, CEO of Weathernews Americas and spokesman for the company’s environmental solutions. “As decarbonisation gathers momentum, our vision is to create a sustainable future for the industry where optimised trade routes will see ships complete voyages with the lowest possible fuel consumption and ultimately a drastic reduction in CO2.”
Serving maritime for half a century
Weathernews has clocked up 50 years as a marine weather specialist but it doesn’t sell mere “weather forecasts”. “Our service concept is to help people in times of need, protect mariners and provide ‘countermeasure information’ to help customers improve business performance while reducing their GHG footprint,” Brizzo says. “Safety and environmental awareness have been, and are, at the root of our story and everything we do.”
The company recently recruited experienced shipping hands to drive the process forward. Former Clipper Group VP Henrik Faurschou becomes Global Product and Market Strategy Leader focusing on decarbonisation and emissions reduction projects based in Copenhagen. “Furthermore, we are searching for more talented experts in Europe to speed up the digitalisation and decarbonisation of the maritime industry,” says Brizzo.
They will help shipping companies address the challenges they face on their sustainability journey – the biggest of which is data quality. “Large operators may also have issues with the sheer volume of data they generate, preferring to outsource and let their operators manage by exception. At Weathernews we can handle and cleanse the total data volume, while smaller owners who lack resources to do voyage optimisation internally can rely on Weathernews to do this,” says Brizzo.
The right route
Weathernews’ core Optimum Ship Routeing (OSR) service is the original and Number One premium routing service worldwide. “We recommend routes and engine settings taking into account customers’ trading profile and in close dialogue with operators and crew,” says Brizzo. “The quality ship sensor data streamed into our database is assimilated and combined with high-resolution wind, wave, and ocean current forecasting to provide constantly updated weather and ocean analysis for optimum sea keeping,” says Brizzo. Weathernews’ real-time, high-resolution weather data is among the most robust in the industry, he adds.
Today there are too many systems available and therefore fragmentation in the market. “This makes the need for a ‘one stop shop’ solution even more urgent,” Brizzo says. “All new and existing services will be migrated to our new ICT platform with a back end running the most advanced AI technology that can process a huge amount of data. Its open architecture also means customers can tailor the system to display the exact information they want,” he adds. The company supports safe and economical voyages for 9,800 vessels around the world by analysing 10,000 daily reports using its AI engine, with 8,000 ships being routed or assisted at any one time across all time zones.
Focus on environmental performance
Weathernews strives to work with customers to enhance safety and fuel efficiency across any size of fleet or pool, as well as dedicated platforms for specific sectors. All tools will be available in one customised dashboard enabling real-time monitoring and collaboration. “We also hold regular reviews with customers to show a calculated return on investment (ROI) in terms of fuel time saved, and environmental performance,” says Brizzo.
A further challenge facing operators is the perceived lack of transparency around emissions data and unbiased reporting. “Aligning shipping and chartering activities to be environmentally responsible is our top priority,” says Brizzo. Weathernews’ newly launched Carbon Intensity Monitoring (CIM) platform enables customers to track their CO2 reduction efforts from berth to berth while ensuring reliable reporting and regulatory compliance.
“You need the best possible dataset to quantify emissions and vessel Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) values. CIM provides multi-layered data verification while data is stored in a secure and trusted environment using blockchain technology,” says Brizzo. CIM also enables easy and intuitive visualisation of CO2 reduction efforts and EEOI in real time. “In addition, blending CIM with OSR will support optimal decision making, save time and help customers towards environmental and commercial sustainability,” he says, adding that CIM is the first of many new value-adding services Weathernews is currently developing.
The company’s ultimate goal is to provide customers with a digital marketplace for carbon credit offsetting. The project named Marine Carbon Blocking (MCB) will allow users to convert CO2 reduction efforts in environmental assets for exchange. “Charterers and owners want to achieve environmental targets but also ensure the investments they make will generate a financial return,” says Brizzo. “We aim to launch MCB later in 2021 in a stepped phase-in initially focusing on carbon trading within closed enclaves such as Sea Cargo Charter. Later we want to open it to the multiple carbon-offsetting schemes in the market including EU ETS, where interoperability will be key,” he says.
Big-ticket customer base
Weathernews’ market scope is global and its clients include leading owners, charterers, freight traders, and managers. “Customers choose us because of our long experience and expertise in ensuring data quality and modelling. They also gain exposure to the large number of existing clients and ships in our network,” says Brizzo. “It pays to ensure you have the best environmental and routing information, and with Weathernews you get all that and more.”