GBMS, a Dutch company, is currently engaged in the development of a sensor and software system named SensoriumC. This system aims to tackle the issue of lost containers at sea by providing real-time information to the ship’s crew regarding the loads in the container stacks. By using this information, the crew can make well-informed decisions and take necessary measures to avoid any critical thresholds when the loads approach them.
The founders of GBMS, Joris Brouwer (Msc) and Michiel Gunsing (PhD), have extensive experience in various commercial and research projects at the Maritime Research Institute MARIN in Wageningen, the Netherlands, prior to establishing GBMS.
This interview seeks to shed light on the cutting-edge technology that GBMS has crafted, as well as the vision and expertise of its founders.
How does your start-up create and provide value to your maritime stakeholders?
GBMS provides liners and ship crews of container ships with decision support tools to reduce risk due to losses and damages of containers onboard ships. We identified a lack of controllability of safety levels and risk management and set out to search for solutions. GBMS focusses on making better informed decisions and reducing risks while at the same time identifying underutilization and possibilities for increasing revenues. There is interest from terminals and insurance companies as well, since increasing controllability of stowage safety is a double-edged sword where all involved parties can profit from. Better control on stowage safety results in less containers lost, less containers damaged, lower insurance fees in the long run and more cargo transported safely.
What specific problem or pain point does your start-up address in the maritime industry?
The central problem that prevented proper levels of controllability and risk management is the lack of insight in the forces acting in container stacks. Are containers about to collapse? Is all fastening material strong enough? Up till now these questions were hard to answer. Official documents describing how containers should be fastened (lashed) often only show an example container stack with a prescribed weight distribution. The shear variety in actual container weights and container sizes makes it impossible to cover all possible combinations. These documents often lack the underlying strength details which make evaluating deviations hard. Lashing calculation software found on many ships only evaluate a set of worst conditions and cannot provide real-time evaluations based on the actual ship behaviour. Incidents as seen over the last years involved crews getting caught in bad weather having no tools to consult.
While a simple course change may have prevented these incidents, the information to make these decisions simply wasn’t there. GBMS set out to change all this by building a decision support solution that could be used at any time, in good, bad, or very bad circumstances.
How can your start-up contribute to a cleaner and/ or safer maritime future?
GBMS has specialized itself in the physics and mathematics behind these container stack forces. As a result, we created one of the fastest, if not the fastest, software programme (solver) for container and lashing forces.
This solver can be found in our onboard decision support tool, SensoriumC, which uses real-time motion measurements and stowage information from BAPLIE files to inform crew about safety levels. Just like when your cars speedometer tells you’re driving too fast, our SensoriumC system can tell when stack loads are too high and perhaps a course deviation may be advisable.
The same solver is also used in international studies focussed on assessing risks and mitigation thereof. Due to the speed of our solver, we can determine how variations, for example in weight declaration or stowage position errors, influence safety levels over large numbers of ships and voyages.
Similarly, the power of our solver enables us to quickly assess numerous planning variations to come up with the best safety levels for a voyage.
GBMS will continue to distribute its’ solutions to prevent losses of containers causing severe environmental and economic damages, as well as develop new solutions and tools to further improve maritime safety when it comes to container shipping.
Can you share any success stories or notable achievements your start-up has had so far in the maritime industry?
GBMS’ first client was landed at the Rising Star pavilion in 2021. They were literally searching for a solution as offered by us but could not find it anywhere else. With only an early prototype to show for and two enthusiastic founders they did offer us a meeting. A few months later we were sailing aboard of one of their ships with a fully working prototype system. During that trip we had the surreal pleasure of barbecuing outside in the cold but sunny weather while laying for anchor for days near Helsinki. We learned an incredible amount during that trip and other trips we performed with them. Now this client has multiple ships provided with GBMS’ fully developed SensoriumC system.
Why did you apply to be a Rising Stars and what do you expect of the Rising Stars Pavilion and Europort?
Obviously, the previous edition has helped GBMS very much in landing our first client and showcasing our company to many others. For us the Rising Star Pavilion is an ideal concept to reach potential customers and other interested parties. One of the strengths of our product is the speeds at which we can perform calculations. There is no better way to demonstrate this than by having a physical demonstration which customers can use, touch, and feel themselves. Seeing is believing.
Visit GBMS at the Rising Stars Pavilion (Hall 4 – 4314)