This Concerted Action (CA) was based on the assumption that there will be even more increased focus on seaborne transport because of its environmental attractiveness and efficiency compared to road transport. The risk of massive oil-spill or the risk of casualties does, however, represent a threat to sustainable development.
New approaches to improve reliability and safety of European maritime activities are therefore required, together with intelligent systems to support onboard decisions, particularly under emergency situations. Emphasis should also be put on telematic and communication tools to integrate ship and shore resources better.
The improvement of casualty prevention will be important to secure the highest possible level of safety at sea in order to minimise risks. With a tool like a dedicated CA, and through trans-national cooperation of directly or indirectly involved parties, the level of knowledge will be raised to set the priorities for technology and methodology developments required to realise the aims of industry. The CA may also give a foothold for the expansion of technology-based industry, specialising in ship instrumentation, telecommunications, design and construction of marine systems, tools related to quality assurance, etc. in the marine and other sectors. Such improved systems and tools may in turn be adopted by the industry to design and construct safer and more cost-effective ships and marine structures in the future.
InMare aimed to create the basis for further enhancing European short sea shipping by improving freight service capacity and reliability and passenger well-being on the one side, and by minimising the risk of life losses, damage to the environment and accidents on the other, thus maintaining the operational quality of ships during their operating life.
In particular, the project aimed at coordinating activities within five areas, identified as important topics:
- enhanced efficiencies on board and ashore;
- human resources;
- communication and decision-support system (DSS);
- regulatory matters;
- environmentally-sustainable ship operations.
The basic idea of the InMare CA was, therefore, to integrate expertise and experience with a substantial contribution from European shipowners' representatives. It can be recognised as an important tool for stimulating a common research strategy in support of European operators' efforts in their attempt to maintain the European shipping industry at the forefront of competitiveness.
The InMare Concerted Action was divided into six technical work packages:
- specification of end-user needs;
- establishment of working groups;
- working group activities;
- arrangement and execution of assessment workshops;
- harmonise and summarise results of all working groups;
- dissemination actions.
According to the five topics of InMare, five working groups were formed, mainly composed of shipowners, system makers and ship operators.
The obtained results of the working groups (and of the CA) are illustrated in deliverables which report, for each of five topics, the following:
- state of the art;
- identification of R&D needs;
- overview of existing systems/solutions as well as proposals for new ones (where applicable);
- support of EU policies towards upcoming IMO (International Maritime Organisation) regulations through specific R&D actions.
The main results achieved by InMare consist of recommendations for future research/studies, considerations on the regulatory aspects of the studied priorities and a snapshot of the state of the art, seen from the point of view of the ship operator (end user). The project's results can be grouped under five main topics:
1. Enhanced efficiency onboard and ashore
InMare recommended focusing on a combination of information gathering and provision, using satellite and surveillance technology for improved fleet planning and raised flexibility in logistic chains. Furthermore, additional sampling, preparation and presentation of ship specific information to assist operators and to increase safety and reliability of sea transport are regarded worthwhile. For new builds, a reconsideration of ship designs in terms of safety (stability, sea keeping, freak wave survival) and of extended operational windows for small and medium-sized ships are recommended.
2. Human resources
Human resource management entailed a broad scope of recommendations. First, specific actions suggested consist of reducing administrative burdens from the crew, by developing instruments enabling tasks to be undertaken at shore. In particular, the project recommended the deployment of tools and integrated systems for handling paperwork and organisational tasks along logistic chain (Computer Assisted Maintenance and Decision Support Systems, for example).
Secondly, InMare recommended implementing long-distance training and education for continuous upgrading of crew members qualifications.
3. Communication and decision support system (DSS)
All aspects (efficiency, safety, security, etc.) of the shipping and maritime transport industries are increasingly linked to the application and the diffusion of advanced high-performance and low-cost Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). In this respect, InMare suggested specific R&D action be taken in the following fields:
- Explore the development of fully integrated DSSs
- Investigate the need and possibilities for data format standards
- Higher diffusion of e-learning tools
- Increase level of shore side involvement in maintenance and repair with specific tools for remote control, commands and settings
- Develop the concept of 'integrated bridge system': integrated console (ergonomics and standard operating based solutions), intuitive man/machine interface (MMI).
The InMare project's novel approach, through 'Concerted Action' (CA) between major stakeholders, demonstrated the possibility of a focused attention on a specific industrial sector's issues and a common basis of action at a European level.
Specifically, in InMare's case, the issues stemmed from the fact that the world's sea-borne trade is growing continuously, and that the increase is steeper for intra-European maritime transport (in particular on the Short Sea Shipping), as it offers potential benefits in terms of environmental pressure and road congestion.
These facts involve the need for increased efficiency, safety and improvement of environmental performance.
Using a tool such as dedicated Concerted Action, involving trans-national cooperation of directly or indirectly qualified parties, allowed:
- reaching optimal level of knowledge;
- setting priorities for technology and methodology developments required to realise the industry's aims.
The results of the InMare C.A. may also give a foothold for the expansion of a technology-based maritime industry, specialising in ship instrumentation, telecommunications, design and construction of marine systems, tools related to quality assurance etc.