Maersk Tankers has invested in CargoMetrics, a quantitative hedge fund backed by the likes of Paul Tudor Jones and Google's Eric Schmidt, in order to utilise its shipping data and analytical models to improve the deployment of its fleet of vessels. The Copenhagen-based tanker company, which is part of Danish shipping group AP Moller-Maersk, has taken an undisclosed but "significant" stake in the Boston-based hedge fund set up by a former US Coast Guard officer and in return will gain exclusive access to its data and algorithms. The tanker market is fickle, with rental rates fluctuating every day and varying across different regions in the world. In just a week, the daily rate for a medium-range tanker in the Atlantic can roughly double or halve. Maersk hopes that CargoMetrics will help it better predict demand and improve the deployment of its 160-strong fleet to take advantage of price trends.
A Danish vessel setting sail from Vladivostok this week is set to become the first container ship to tackle the Arctic sea route north of Russia. The Venta Maersk, owned by Maersk Line, and carrying 3,600 containers, hopes to reach St Petersburg by late September. That could be up to 14 days faster than the southern route via the Suez Canal. Maersk will collect data on the Northern Sea Route to see if the melting of Arctic sea ice has made the passage economically viable. Maersk said: "The trial passage will enable us to explore the operational feasibility of container shipping through the Northern Sea Route and to collect data."
Shipping giant Maersk Group made headlines earlier this year when it used a drone to deliver a bucket of cookies to a tanker at sea. That was just the beginning of an effort the company thinks could dramatically change its business. The company is evaluating ways to expand its use of drones and plans a bigger test later this year, said Markus Kuhn, a supply chain manager at Maersk, at the Drones Data X conference in San Francisco. In January, the company made a drone fly 250 meters from one of its barges to a tanker and drop off a batch of cookies. It's now looking for a drone-making partner for a test flight that would haul a 10-kilogram package for 10 kilometers.
In the 1980s, French ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau commissioned the Alcyone, a vessel named after the daughter of the wind in Greek mythology, which used turbo-sails that provided thrust in the direction of travel along with the engines. Shipping executives said previous efforts didn't catch on with operators because either the costs of such technologies were too high or tests didn't yield the expected fuel savings. But modern, lightweight and relatively cheap rotating sails show more promise, they said. The cylinders on the Maersk tanker are made with composite materials by Finland-based Norsepower Oy Ltd., and cost €1 million to €2 million ($1.2 million to $2.3 million) to fit on a vessel, depending on the size of the ship. The technology is based on what is known as the Magnus effect, in which a spinning object drags air faster around one side, creating a difference in pressure that pushes the vessel in the direction of the lower-pressure side.