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Tallink: innovation is a challenge but the 'greatest opportunity'

Fri 12 Apr 2019 by Rebecca Moore

Tallink: innovation is a challenge but the 'greatest opportunity'
Harri Hanschmidt (Tallink): our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint by 5% each year on the whole fleet

Tallink Grupp management board member Harri Hanschmidt says there is no “silver bullet” as a mix of measures is needed to reduce carbon emissions

Innovation is key for Tallink Grupp, embracing both advances in digitalisation and energy efficiency.

Speaking at the Shippax Ferry Shipping conference, Tallink Grupp management board member Harri Hanschmidt says “We really do innovate – innovation is the biggest challenge for us but absolutely the greatest opportunity.”

He adds “Our core product is very innovative, as it is a cruise ferry that combines business and pleasure, not one or the other and in the multimodal world that is a really important thing.” 

Tallink Grupp owns Silja & Tallink Line comprising of 14 vessels offering business, leisure and cargo services. It has a €1.6Bn (US$1.8Bn) asset base and last year transported 10M passengers and 400,000 units of cargo.

The company’s focus on energy efficiency started several decades ago. Mr Hanschmidt singles out an example: Silja Symphony started operating in 1990 and Silja Seranade one year later. In this time “there was already an evolution in efficiency, with the funnel of Silja Seranade constructed of aluminium, so it was a little bit lighter”.

Tallink Grupp is at the forefront of using LNG as marine fuel, after launching LNG dual-fuelled Megastar in 2018.

Mr Hanschmidt says “Megastar is a true reference vessel and has exceeded expectations in quality and fuel efficiency.” He added “Today, we would like to complete the energy efficiency link,” so the company has signed a contract with Rauma Marine Constructions to build a vessel similar to its LNG-fuelled Megastar ferry, “but if possible, a little bigger and better”.

He adds “The ships will be similar, but it will have larger LNG tanks, allowing us to be more efficient at bunkering.” The new vessel is slated to be delivered in 2022. A bunkering vessel is being built to bunker both the new vessel and Megastar.

The new ship is part of the operator’s energy efficiency drive.

Mr Hanschmidt says “Efficiency is really important. There is no one silver bullet, but through different measures we have achieved 20% in energy efficiency and our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint by 5% each year on the whole fleet.”

As well as Mesgastar, the company is focusing on cold ironing in port. “We are adding ion batteries for berthing and in April our vessels in Stockholm will use cold ironing. Tallink and Helsinki ports are getting ready... as well. Adding cold ironing capacity allows people to move closer to quiet ports as it is the trend for ships to be quiet and environmentally friendly.” He notes that “passenger behaviour is changing, and responsible travel is a very big trend.”

Digitalisation is also highly significant for the ferry operator. Mr Hanschmidt says “If you are not online you are not anywhere. For us, it is really important that all our onboard systems can be online.” He says customers expect very good bandwidth. Tallink Grupp is rolling out direct beam antennas to give high-speed internet access at sea to all of its vessels. It is also using Telenor for 4G solutions.

Tallink has also rolled out a virtual customer service, called Nemo. Mr Hanschmidt says this initiative has “already has reduced contact centre load by 40% by answering most critical questions online and digitally”.  Some 80% of individual bookings are now booked online. He says “The online booking is already under pressure, we are already working on mobile booking systems as trends are changing very quickly.”  He says the ferry group was working on 30 IT projects, with another 30-35 waiting to go onto a priority list.

He sums up “The future is smart ports, ships and customers.”

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