Ship Managers Gather Real-Time Data as ECDIS Moves into the “M Cloud” [INTERVIEW]

steinar gundersen maris
Steinar Gundersen, CEO – Maris

While in Hamburg last month for the SMM Expo, I met up with Steinar Gundersen, the CEO of ECDIS-provider MARIS, and Bhupesh Gandi, MARIS’ Asia Pacific Director.  

Tell me a bit about your company

MARIS stands for ‘Maritime Information Systems’.  We are a limited company with our head office in Tønsberg, Norway.  MARIS is a leading supplier of ECDIS with about 20 percent market share of ships in service in about 40 countries.  So far, we have delivered over 5,000 systems to ships around the world.

Our company is majority owned by the Grieg Group, which is an organization with deep roots in the maritime sector in areas such as shipping, global logistic services, shipbroking, maritime information systems, investment consulting and fish farming.

How did you get started?

The roots of MARIS go back to the start of the maritime information technology explosion in the mid 1980s. It is a very technology-driven company. We were the first in the world to meet the IMO regulation for voyage data recording. We were the first in the world to offer a flat panel display as an ECDIS and we were the first to have UKHO approval to get email chart updates to our system.  We were also the first to combine a VDR and ECDIS on one PC which reduced hardware requirements on board, a system which was DNV-approved in 1995.  We were selected by the UKHO to supply e-Navigator back in 2009.

We are not the marine branch of a big electronics corporation. We are the only independent supplier of radar technology to supply full ARPA technology certified up to the latest 2008 standard.

How much do your systems cost?

Typically, a single ECDIS is $15,000 USD for a single system, $30,000 for a dual system.  50 percent of all the ships we outfitted last year had triple ECDIS fitted. We were the first to offer leasing as a concept, which included the systems, the maintenance, installation, and data for a fixed amount per month.  We have had quite a bit of success with this approach since we launched the idea 4 years ago.

ecdis screen maris

What is a zero downtime system?

Our ECDIS systems allow ships to sail without paper charts and our zero downtime option is our triple ECDIS offering – it allows operators to meet the regulatory requirement that ECDIS is fully functional when ships enter and exit ports, even if a component fails. 50% of our customers last year selected this option. To achieve zero downtime, the idea is to use redundant components and three independent ECDIS computers.

What features are in development for future versions of your systems?

We are increasingly focusing on training and services to make sure bridge officers are comfortable using our products and able to use advanced features. We are also working on additional inputs and software processing to give more data to the user. We have also developed applications to overlay data including ARPA information and weather data on the ECDIS screen. We are also focusing on push-data as a new means of updating charts and product software remotely.

What are ship operators most excited about?

We recently worked with Teekay to integrate weather data and weather routing information directly into shipboard systems. This ability could provide ship operators with more precise weather routing options that will keep crews safer and shave up to 5.8% off fuel costs while lowering emissions.

What are you most excited about?

M cloud! We now have the ability both to push and pull data from remote ECDIS units, where we can collect data from onboard the vessel and stream that information to our servers. Ship managers will be able to log in via their computers and mobile devices, including the iPhone, to view critical ship information in real-time.