Fuel Essence is a company that works towards the increased digitalisation of the shipping sector. Its principle product is the Sustainable Motion Platform, otherwise known as SU|MO, which digitalises critical performance indicators of ships. This provides ship-owners and managers with actionable insights that can increase the efficiency and sustainability of their vessels. “For 20 years there has been talk about the sustainability of the various transport industries. Water transport is a long way behind road transport. We see Fuel Essence as our contribution to accelerate the required sustainability of the shipping sector,” says Peter Derks, co-founder and director of Fuel Essence.

Where did the initial idea for setting up Fuel Essence come from?

We have seen a real shift in the way of thinking in the past couple of years as to what ship-owners are demanding in terms of information output. For this reason, we decided to develop a platform that works for the digital transformation of the shipping sector. The inland shipping sector, in particular, is lagging behind in terms of digitalisation. There is a lack of historical information about vessel performance, and real-time information is also not available onshore. Moreover, there is often inefficient communication between the ship and quayside. Therefore, not only is it very difficult to observe trends, this also means that ship-owners can’t make accurate forecasts for the future.

What is driving the increased need for vessel data?

A lot more attention is being paid to the performance of ships and there are many drivers for this. Information is critical in making decisions on future investments. Environmental regulations are another reason; performance data can be used to look at fuel consumption in order to save money – because fuel is by far the biggest expense for ships – and as a way to reduce emissions. But the new European sustainability reporting regulations are also a driver; this is putting pressure on the whole supply chain to increase digitalisation.

Can you tell us more about how SU|MO works?

We collect available data from ships – regardless of age, size, and function – and external sources and install sensors in case required data are not available. Data are transferred via the SU|MO Cloud to dedicated servers in Europe. Data are analysed with advanced software and presented as information in dashboards and reports. We measure from the heart of the ship; this creates insight of the performance of the whole vessel. The data can be ‘live’, giving insight into current performance and conditions. The data can also be about cargo, recording all loading and unloading events, giving transparent information about location, volume or tonnage. SU|MO looks at the primary components of the propulsion system such as engine, rudder and propeller, but also further to the auxiliary systems like pumps and compressors.

Who uses this data within a fleet organisation?

There are three different roles that can gain great advantages from this system. The first is the captain of the ship; this is a tool to increase efficiency of sailing. The second is the fleet manager, who can see the performance of the ship, in particular in monitoring more long-term trends. For example, before and after maintenance, or to test the efficiency of newly installed nozzles, or to verify the impact of adding fuel additives. And third, the financial planning and reporting part of the shore-based organisation; this is for historical insights as well as forecasting possibilities.

What are your ambitions for Fuel Essence?

We are a company that uses proven technology coupled with our own systems. Everything that we do is to enable low risk, low costs and speed of market penetration; these are the three most important elements of a transformation. To that end, we have three main ambitions. Number one: to expand our position in the European inland shipping sector. Number two: to enter the European short-sea market. And three: expand our applications in the offshore industry.

And what do you want to achieve by taking part in the PortXL programme?

We want to secure at least one concrete project within the short-sea shipping sector preferably with intercontinental potential. The next big step will be outside Europe, with our partners in, for example South Africa, Singapore and USA.