Navtor moves into vessel performance

Sep 02 2021


Norwegian e-navigation company Navtor is expanding into the world of vessel performance, following a private equity company taking a majority stake, and the acquisition of Houston’s Tres Solutions.

Norwegian e-navigation company Navtor is expanding into vessel performance management services, by acquiring Tres Solutions, a vessel performance analytics company based in Houston.

 

The acquisition follows Silicon Valley private equity firm Accel-KKR buying a majority stake in NAVTOR in August 2020. Accel-KKR has $9bn capital under management, and over 50 technology companies in its portfolio.

 

Navtor is led by electronic chart veteran Tor Svanes since 2012. Mr Svanes formerly spent 18 years as president and CEO of C-MAP Norway, a company he founded, which was subsequently acquired by Jeppesen. Navtor was founded in 2011.

 

The acquisition has been done with money from Accel-KKR, as part of a plan to turn Navtor into a “platform” with a range of services, Mr Svanes says.

 

Navtor serves 7000 vessels, with customers in 60 countries, and 13 offices around the world. Navtor has a “particular stronghold” in the tanker and bulker segment.

 

It is increasingly speaking to operations staff at shipping companies, not just people who work in navigation, Mr Svanes says.

 

According to its own analysis, Navtor is the largest company in the world in e-navigation, with a 15-16 per cent market share distributing official electronic charts (ENCs), and distributing other navigation publications. The second and third biggest companies have a 14 and 12 per cent market share, Mr Svanes says.

 

The company calculates that 80 per cent of the “e-navigation” market is held by 8 companies.

 

The company also makes software for displaying electronic charts, as an ECDIS “kernel” which ECDIS manufacturers can put into their own hardware.

 

A third business line is “Navalytics”, where vessels have an AIS data recorder onboard. The data is collated centrally, so Navtor has data about every ship in the world, it is “the most updated ship database in the world,” he says.

 

Navtor talked to a number of different vessel performance companies, before making the acquisition. “Tres Solutions is the best one we can see in the market,” Mr Svanes said.

 

Tres Solutions

A unique factor about Tres Solutions is a very specific vessel monitoring and onboarding process, says Aaron Holton, CEO of Tres Solutions.

 

Each vessel is different. The company created very flexible “platforms” for understanding how different ships behave.

 

The system is firstly configured around the specific type of vessel.  You can configure it to the specific engine type, such as 2 or 4 stroke, and other parameters specific to the vessel. “It feels like a bespoke solution,” he says.

 

Tres Solutions offers what it calls a “white glove” service making dedicated models for customers, put together by the company’s in house marine engineers, naval architects and people who have sailed onboard the same types of vessels.

 

There are various intermediary steps customers can select, between the standard models and the white glove service.

 

It offers "savings as a service", where companies make a contract with the company where they pay based on its ability to save them money.

 

It also aims to provide better decision support tools for customers, such as understanding the current hull and propeller performance.

 

Its staff includes both “software engineers from big tech” and “naval architects that have worked for some of the largest shipowners in the world.”

 

The sources of its data include speed logs, distance travelled over 24 hours and fuel consumption. Information about equipment operation can be added, such as fuel used by generators. Much of this is included in the traditional noon day report, Mr Holton calls it a “noon report on steroids”.

 

To send the data to shore, Tres Solutions has different options depending on what connectivity is available from vessels, ranging from offline to fully online solutions, with hybrid solutions in between.

 

It can be put together with weather data from outside agencies. It collects technical details of the vessel from sources such as manuals, propeller data, general arrangement plans.

 

The data goes through a second validation layer on the shore, including with human monitoring. The company likes to be able to validate all data with another data source. “We have 200+ system based validations based on the DNA of that vessel,” he says.

 

Tres is sold by annual or monthly subscription, based on the number of vessels, with different options available which will change the cost.

 

Tres Solutions also works with some charterers, who sometimes push for their shipowners to use systems like Tres to provide them with better data. Many charterers want to collect data for their own emission performance.

 

“We've seen a big growth in demand among charterers as they start to recognise the value of systems like this,” he said.

 

It has an entry level service with data capture and some series analytics, all the way to the “white glove” service. (Although the products may be re-configured following the acquisition).

 

Following the acquisition, Tres Solutions’ offices in Houston, Mumbai and Copenhagen will also be Navtor offices.

 

Its software is likely now to be integrated with Navtor’s fleet monitoring tool Navfleet, to offer a single integrated solution for customers, says Arild Risholm Sæther, chief business development officer for Navfleet.

 

Navfleet can be used to track and monitor vessels, compare their route against the planned route and charter party requirements. The same information is available both onshore and in the office.

 

Navbox

Navtor provides a hardware device called “Navbox”, which sits between the vessel communication infrastructure and its navigation systems.

 

Electronic chart updates can be sent to the chart display system (ECDIS) via the Navbox, so there is no need to use any USB drives or e-mail attachments, which can be a source of cyber risk.

 

The Navbox can also send AIS data back to shore, including data about surrounding vessels, from its integration with bridge equipment.

 

All of these data files are very small – they do not contain any images, videos, or other large sources of data.

 



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