Maersk Tankers' digital pioneers

In just three years, Maersk Tankers’ pioneering in-house digital team has come a long way. It has developed innovative solutions that help shipowners cut CO2 emissions and boost earnings – and deepened the company’s relationship with its partners.

“We are transforming the analogue shipping business into a digital business, step by step,” says Peter Schrøder, Maersk Tanker’s first Chief Digital Officer. 

His colleague, Product Owner Peter Lund-Sørensen, has relished the voyage, which is still in its early stages. “It’s been great to be at the forefront of such radical change – in the digital world, new things are happening all the time,” he says.

They both joined the digital team within a couple of days of each other, in early 2018. They brought with them decades of experience working in cutting-edge digital technology, including together at NDS Denmark and at Egmont Publishing.

Peter Schrøder, Chief Digital Officer at Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers’ Copenhagen-based digital team is currently just seven-strong, which is just how Peter Lund-Sørensen likes it: “We’ve been working almost as a start-up within Maersk Tankers. We are a small team and very agile, which means we can change direction quickly if we need.”

There is, however, nothing insular about the team. It works hand-in-hand with international partners in Sweden, Poland and the US, ensuring the latest digital expertise is at its fingertips.

Peter Schrøder adds: “We have the right structure, the best people and commitment from the company, which allows us to do real hands-on work. From our very first day, we have been developing and testing software – and finding solutions for shipowners to optimise the performance of their vessels.”

The Chief Digital Officer refers to the “five Cs” that underpin the team’s success: CEO commitment, Culture, Competencies, Cash and CIO commitment, which gives the digital team access to data from across Maersk Tankers.

Shipping is an industry overdue for innovation – and this is exactly what Maersk Tankers’ digital team has been doing, developing five standout solutions during its short life.

SimTanker helps charterers make the best possible decisions on vessel positioning and maximise earnings for partners. The software was developed in a fruitful partnership with Boston-based maritime data specialists CargoMetrics Technologies.
Lund-Sørensen is rightly proud of the software: “As far as we know, nobody has produced anything like SimTanker – it is a first in the shipping business.”

Peter Lund-Sørensen, Senior Digital Specialist and Product Owner at Maersk Tankers

SimTanker was introduced to the LR2 fleet in early 2020. Since autumn last year, the digital team has been hard at work adapting the solution for its largest MR fleet, ahead of a full launch on some 80-90 vessels this March. 

“It gives us data-driven trade signals based on the simulation of different voyage options, providing recommendations for how to best position the fleet in the future. It gives us a far more data-driven approach to our chartering decisions,” says Schrøder. He adds that over time the company will make better decisions by using the data SimTanker provides, which will “help us to out-perform our competitors on time charter equivalent earnings.”

Optimise – which was spun-off from Maersk Tankers and into the independent digital company ZeroNorth in 2020 - provides operators with insights to help them cut CO2 emissions and improve revenue. It does this by turning data into actions, using complex algorithms that factor in market rates, real time and future weather conditions, bunker prices and more, to guide operators on the optimal route and speed for their vessel. This in turn helps them optimise bunker spend, which can account for up to 60% of the total voyage cost. In less than three years the digital team has created the foundation for a separate company, which now has commitment from 1,500 vessels in the tramp shipping industry – where the Maersk Tankers’ pool vessels now are a minority.

VesselTruth, which is due to go live this March, brings together data from across Maersk Tankers and external data sources into “one of the largest databases of vessel data in the product tanker industry” explains Schrøder. He adds: “It will give Maersk Tankers a central data lake with endless new possibilities, and will be yet another transformative step for Maersk Tankers.”

Developed by Maersk Tankers’ digital team over the past three years, InSite Digital is a reporting platform for pool partners, giving them instant access to pool data. “InSite Digital creates transparency around our pool’s performance – at all times, pool partners can see how their vessels are performing and what they are earning,” explains Lund-Sørensen.

Alpha, which was developed in house, works in tandem with SimTanker, using data and algorithms to predict future freight rates across different markets and segments. 

These five products are just the beginning– the digital team has set its sights on developing new cutting-edge digital solutions.

“Maersk Tankers is pushing hard for industry-wide digital transformation,” says Schrøder. “The solutions we are developing will allow us to develop new services and solutions for our partners, attracting and retaining them, while enabling an even better and more scalable way of executing our business.”

About Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers is a service company that provides commercial management solutions for shipowners in the tanker industry, operating one of the largest tanker fleets in the world. Our purpose is to pioneer shipping solutions for our partners and the planet. Founded in 1928, we have a century of expertise in management of tankers, which we use to develop and deploy solutions that help shipowners boost the economic and environmental performance of their vessels. Maersk Tankers employs approximately 300 employees in Denmark, Singapore, India and the U.S. and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.