Successful digital premiere for SMM

Published: 09.02.2021 kl. 09.20
SMM DIGITAL – Live streaming from the SMM Studio / Moderators Carmen Hentschel and David Patrician with Claus Ulrich Selbach (middle left) and Bernd Aufderheide (middle right). Photo:Michael Zapf.
SMM DIGITAL – Live streaming from the SMM Studio / Moderators Carmen Hentschel and David Patrician with Claus Ulrich Selbach (middle left) and Bernd Aufderheide (middle right). Photo:Michael Zapf.
Hamburg: This year the leading international maritime trade fair SMM was held as a purely digital conference for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic – and it was a great success. For four days, SMM DIGITAL's two online streams with 60 hours of programming and more than 160 speakers drew numerous viewers to their screens.

The multifaceted conference programme revolved around the main motive “driving the maritime transition”. Apart from discussions of the current Corona crisis, the panels, sessions and interviews focused on digitalisation and environment protection as general topics. In addition, the featured top-flight industry representatives outlined what the future of the maritime industry might look like. 
 – In four intense days with 60 hours of online programming featuring more than 160 international speakers and numerous highlights, SMM demonstrated its ability to fulfil its role as the leading international maritime trade fair even in the form of an exclusively digital conference. 
Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress, was highly pleased: "We are enthusiastic about the great response to the first SMM that took place entirely on the Internet. The attractive package we had put together for the maritime community under coronavirus conditions was highly welcomed by the participants. While a digital programme cannot fully replace the physical event with face-to-face interaction between exhibitors and visitors, it could be a meaningful future addition to the trade fair." SMM DIGITAL allowed the organisers to gain plenty of experience in the digital space that can add value to future physical events on Hamburg's exhibition campus, he added.
Climate protection was a key topic in several of the conferences, especially at the global maritime environment congress, gmec. IMO environmental expert Roel Hoenders outlined the industry's decarbonisation roadmap. Georgios Plevrakis, Director Global Sustainability at the US classification society ABS, stressed that enormous technological progress is needed to achieve the goal set for the year 2050. 

For the first time this SMM provided a discussion platform for representatives of NGOs and the international shipping sector. Spokespersons from Fridays For Future (FFF) and the German conservation society NABU met up with with leaders from the global shipowners association BIMCO, containership owner MSC and the German engineering industry association VDMA. FFF activist Arnaud Boehmann demanded that the maritime industry and politics do more to protect the environment. BIMCO Deputy Secretary General Lars Robert Pedersen pointed out that shipping, represented by IMO, is the only industry to have defined its own ambitious climate protection goals. It became clear that decision-makers at shipping companies, shipyards and suppliers must pull together to reach their goal of implementing climate-neutral shipping but need the support of politics, for example by boosting scientific research into alternative fuels. Bud Darr, Executive Vice President of MSC, indicated that his company aims to become climate neutral "as soon as possible". But there is simply a lack of suitable fuels, he contended. He called upon leading fuel manufacturers to take action, warning: "We have to realise that there will not be that one shiny fuel solution. We need diverse options that we can combine like pieces of a puzzle,” Darr said.
Another core theme at SMM DIGITAL was digitalisation. How can smart technologies be applied to enhance the efficiency of fleets and optimise the supply chain? How realistic is the vision of ships operating autonomously? At the Maritime Future Summit (MFS) experts such as Pierre Guillemin, Vice President Technology at Wärtsilä Voyage, provided fascinating insights into new possibilities opened up by Artificial Intelligence. 

Numerous conference viewers seized the opportunity to ask the panellists questions using the digital Q&A feature. In addition, members of the maritime community were able to exchange views and ideas using the chat functionality, or reach out to potential business and research partners at the MariMatch@SMM event to expand their maritime networks. "Viewers made ample use of the communication opportunities which generated a flurry of connectivity and interaction between participants," says Business Unit Director Claus Ulrich Selbach of Hamburg Messe und Congress. 
In a similarly positive conclusion Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV – Maritime, said: "I want to expressly congratulate the SMM team on turning the leading international maritime trade fair into a successful digital event." Notwithstanding chief of Hamburg Messe und Congress Bernd Aufderheide expressed his hopes that the next SMM will take place in Hamburg as a live event "with real people” again. 

The maritime community is already looking forward to its launch on 6 September 2022. The next SMM will take place from 6 to 9 September 2022.

John Inge Vikan


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