Taking place from 6th to 9th September 2016, the 27th SMM will provide further valuable insights to those in the shipping industry. Claus Ulrich Selbach, Business Unit Director of Maritime and Technology Fairs at Hamburg Messe and Congress, tells Jo Cooper what guests should expect from the leading maritime trade fair this year.

“Presenting impressive innovations, facilitating conversations with top experts and offering conferences on the topics of the future, we will once again welcome more than 2100 exhibitors from around the world, including the Who’s Who of the maritime industry as well as newcomers and young start-ups whose purpose-designed products and services are valuable additions to the market,” begins Claus Ulrich Selbach. “SMM visitors will encounter all the international key players from the shipping sector, covering the entire value chain. The fair is also becoming more international with more than 60 nations being represented this time and Iran, Malaysia and Greece all setting up 2016country pavilions of their own for the first time this year.”

Viewed as a must for all stakeholders of the maritime sector and a great opportunity to meet up face-to-face with existing and potential business partners, SMM has gained a strong reputation for showcasing tomorrow’s trends and developments over the years, with 2016 being no different. Key topics for this year’s exhibition include digitalisation within this shipping industry, green propulsion, maritime security, environmental developments and the shortage of qualified personnel within the industry.

“Digitalisation is the leitmotif that pervades the entire SMM programme this year. Believed to bring fundamental change to the industry, experts are calling it the third revolution of shipping. What makes this topic so very important is the current situation of the industry, which is marked by low freight and charter rates, a weak global economy, and strong fluctuations of the global flow of goods, all of which threaten the financial basis of the shipping sector. At the same time, we are faced with tightening safety and environmental protection regulations. The only way out of this dilemma is to optimise performance further, and the name of the solution is Smart Shipping.”

One day ahead of the exhibition’s official opening, a new conference titled Maritime Future Summit will take place dedicated to the discussion of advanced maritime technologies, with Smart Shipping taking the crown as the overarching topic within this event. “During this new conference international experts and major players across the sector will discuss their visions for a high-performing, sustainable and successful future shipping industry. This conference will primarily focus on the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation when conventional means of optimising efficiency have been exhausted,” says Mr Selbach.

With smart fleet management and networking viewed as the next step for the industry, companies will need to embrace key new technologies such as telematics, satellite communication, data storage, information technology and automation to remain competitive in the long-term. Because Smart Solutions and the digital revolution are a major topic for this year’s exhibition, digital solutions are naturally central to the portfolios of many of the 2100+ exhibitors presenting their products and services on more than 90,000 square metres of exhibition area.

Part of this exhibition space will be comprised of a new area set up to highlight new developments in the field of green propulsion, with LNG a particular focus. Hall A5 will cover all aspects of alternative and environmentally friendly technologies in marine propulsion and will thus provide shipyards and equipment suppliers the ideal showcase for their alternative and low-emission technologies; these include LNG, methanol, fuel cells and hybrid and dual-fuel propulsion systems. “By providing this new exhibition hall, SMM underscores its technology leadership in the maritime trade fair market, however, exhibiting state-of-the-art technology is not all we do. Our conference programme provides a forum for discussing related perspectives, such as financing or efficiency and green shipping will be one of the top items on 2016the agenda of the Global Maritime Environmental Congress (GMEC) on 6th September.”

LNG will be a key topic at GMEC, with highly distinguished speakers such as Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of the classification society and consultancy DNVGL Maritime, Martin Stopford, Non-Executive President of Clarksons Research, Paul Holthus, founder and CEO of the World Ocean Council, and Oskar Levander, Vice-President of the ship engine manufacturer Rolls Royce Marine reporting current trends in this area. The conference will also discuss new, tighter regulations such as the upcoming ballast water convention or the planned ECA zones in China.

Following GMEC is the Maritime Security & Defence conference on 7th September, which is anticipated to include a number of high-ranking naval and coast guard delegations from all over the world. “The topics covered by the conference will also be reflected at the stands of well-known naval suppliers in the exhibition halls. For example, Hall B8 will highlight essential risk aversion products and services for the protection of ports and sea routes and how to secure ships against pirate attacks,” highlights Mr Selbach. “SMM will present solutions and strategies to make shipping safer, for example, by implementing appropriate measures on board. The presence of top-level naval and coast guard delegations at the fair will help interconnect the military and civilian segments of the maritime world. SMM covers all aspects of security and defence, allowing us to present a holistic picture of the global maritime security situation.”

On top of these topics, SMM will be brimming with expert advice and technological developments from a wide range of companies, organisations and speakers on subjects ranging from cyber attacks to career opportunities. For example, the Maritime Career Market (MCM) will be providing companies with an excellent opportunity to meet up with promising young talents and experienced potential leaders; MCM is also making an increased effort in targeting female candidates in line with a new trend of women entering the shipping industry.

With the most cutting edge innovations, leading experts in their chosen field and great opportunities to network, this year’s SMM looks to be even more international and innovative than ever, as Mr Selbach concludes: “SMM has always been a source of new ideas and a driving force for the maritime industry, at the same time it is an ideal platform for sharing information, getting inspiration and closing deals. An exhibition booth at SMM or a visit to SMM will always pay off, literally speaking.”