In a recent interview with Elias Makris, Director, EU Business Development at Weathernews Inc., uncovers some of the benefits of modern “big data” weather services and innovation focusing on vessel-efficiency products.
– Tell us a few words about WNI, what is the philosophy?
– Weathernews Inc. was established in Japan in the 1970s with the aim of protecting mariners and assisting in times of natural crisis. It’s a mission that drives the people, products, services and innovation of WNI to this day.
Our founder, Hiro Ishibashi, was shocked by a tragic accident that occurred in Onahama port in Fukushima prefecture in January 1970. An explosive low-pressure system hit the area, causing a cargo ship to split in two and sink. 15 sailors were lost. Mr Ishibashi believed that the incident could have been avoided, and the crew saved, with better weather forecasting to accurately assess risks. This became the catalyst for WNI’s formation.
Since that point we have become a global leader in the field of weather forecasting, route optimization, emission monitoring, performance monitoring and more. Today, we employ around 1200 industry professionals, all of whom are united by Mr Ishibashi’s vision to protect, care and utilize the very latest technology to unlock benefits for our customers worldwide. In addition to our network of offices, WNI also operates two private satellites and several advanced weather radars.
– Has your company exploited the shipping market disruption
– The shipping industry has always been dynamic, or some would say volatile. We see it as our commitment to help customers navigate that uncertainty and complexity in the optimal way – with new technology as a key enabler. To provide the best foundation for success – ours and theirs we work in close collaboration with shipping businesses to understand challenges and provide solutions. We see ourselves as working in partnership, rather than in traditional ‘supplier-customer’ relationships. Together we are stronger.
– Have you proceeded to the gradual decarbonization of shipping/ abatement of GhG emissions through the development of environmentally friendly products/ services?
– WNI cares for people and the environment. We believe that an efficient, responsible shipping industry is good for both our natural and business worlds; helping drive down energy consumption, costs and emissions. Our emission monitoring is central to that, but so too are our routing services; helping customers predict, optimise and sail in the most efficient manner. CII monitoring is essential, of course, but so too is helping our customers meet their business goals, which can vary over time, or even from voyage to voyage.
– Can you tell us a few words about CIM?
– CIM, one of our latest service developments, is an advanced solution for reducing GHG emissions. To accurately quantify emissions and conform to vessel Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) values requires the best possible datasets. CIM delivers these through multilayered data verification, with secure data storage technology. It enables an easy and Intuitive visualization of CO2 reduction efforts and EEOI in real time. In addition, it also offers the ability to integrate CIM with Optimal Ship Routing, thus enabling a new level of understanding that supports optimal decision making, saves time, and helps customers achieve their environmental and commercial sustainability goals. We believe it’s the epitome of a smart shipping solution. As an ultimate goal we want to provide customers with a digital marketplace for carbon credit offsetting. As such, we’re currently undertaking a project christened Marine Carbon Blocking (MCB), which allows users to convert their CO2 reduction efforts in environmental assets for exchange. This gives forward-thinking charterers and owners an opportunity to generate financial returns on their environmental efforts. It’s a win-win.
– Do you believe in the crucial role of the human factor in shipping and that the new technology and AI threaten the traditional mode of hands-on ship management?
– We value the crucial factor of human expertise and the potential for new technology, such as AI, to enhance the way our industry operates. As such, our approach is based on a synergy of AI and Human Intelligence in the loop (HITL), where one supports and enables the other. I would say that people are still the single most important assets in our industry. However, with continually evolving technological solutions we can help them achieve goals that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable. In that respect, technology isn’t a threat, it’s an opportunity.
– What are the future plans to expand your market share in shipping and stay competitive in a continuously uncertain market?
– Moving forward we plan to become more of a ‘one stop shop’, offering our own services, including OSR, performance monitoring, emission monitoring, data analytics and predictive capabilities while also working closer with an extended network of partners to provide systems and solutions tailored to individual client needs. It’s important to us to deliver optimal value, for every client, in any way we can. In addition, we strive to make our services as accessible and user friendly as possible. Achieve that and we will always be a competitive force within the marketplace.
– Would you like to highlight any further points for WNI?
– We have a long history, but we are always looking to the future. We constantly seek to develop the best solutions and services, as shown by a recent restructure to enable better client service. We invest in our people, expertise and innovation to deliver state-of the-art solutions to meet the evolving challenges of our global customers. We are proud of who we are and what we stand for. The way we deliver services over the years may have changed, but our values are the same as those first declared by Hiro Ishibashi.
This article is shared by courtesy of Weathernews. WNI (Head Office: Chiba-shi, Chiba Prefecture; CEO: Chihito Kusabiraki) was founded in 1986 and is one of the largest weather information companies in the world. They started as a service supporting safe maritime operations aimed at shipping companies, and they now provide weather information services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to clients across 44 different markets in a total of 50 countries around the world.