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From 3 to 06 September 2024, SMM will once more be the maritime industry’s centre of attention. Apart from the main topics ­– decarbonisation and digitalisation –, a major focus is on maritime security this year. At SMM in Hamburg, decision-makers will be able to explore the latest security technologies.

Claus Ulrich Selbach (Photo: HMC)

 Attacks on merchant ships by Huthi rebels in the Red Sea; geopolitical tensions in the Taiwan Strait; armed pirate attacks at the Horn of Africa: around the world, many critical security situations are confronting the shipping sector with enormous challenges. Dr Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners Association (VDR), has rightly demanded that the protection of ships and seafarers along shipping routes should be treated as a top priority. Shipowners are supported by naval vessels escorting them through dangerous areas. For example, the EU-led Operation Aspides has been providing security in the Red Sea. Against the background of increasing geopolitical challenges, many nations are investing in their naval forces. SMM in Hamburg provides the perfect platform to underpin these efforts: This is where exhibitors showcase the most advanced security technologies.

Dual-use technologies as innovation drivers

Submarines, frigates, minesweepers – naval vessels are complex hi-tech systems requiring enormous shipbuilding know-how. At SMM, leading international companies present their state-of-the-art solutions, which are often successful in both, naval and civilian shipping. For example, low-noise engines are of interest not only for destroyers and other naval ships but also for cruise vessels. Smart technologies are in demand in civilian shipping, as well. Lürssen uses them on yachts, for example, while its sister company, NVL Group (Naval Vessels Lürssen) instals them on navel vessels. Other companies, such as engine manufacturer MTU or navigation specialist Kongsberg, provide their expertise to customers from both the civilian and military segments. Both segments can benefit each other when it comes to innovation: This once again demonstrates the great advantages of SMM reflecting the industry’s entire value chain.

SMM: Driving the maritime transition – together!

All in all, SMM is expecting more than 2,000 exhibitors from 70 countries when it opens from 3 to 6 September. The fair is now almost fully booked, including the lightweight construction hall that has been added. Very few stand spaces remain, which are being assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis. With more than 40,000 international participants, including decision-makers from shipowners, shipbuilders and suppliers, SMM is undisputedly the leading international maritime trade fair. A fair that keeps reinventing itself. To provide extra support for the two featured topics, decarbonisation and digitalisation, SMM has developed two new formats: The Future Fuels Area highlights potential uses of hydrogen and its derivatives in shipping. And at the AI CENTER, start-up companies will draw attention to advanced Artificial Intelligence solutions for the maritime sector. There can be no doubt that Artificial Intelligence harbours significant potential for naval shipping, as well. The spectrum of applications ranges from autonomous navigation technologies and automated target recognition systems to cybersecurity and predictive maintenance. The latter involves the use of sensors and state-of-the-art analytics to monitor the condition of machinery and other equipment continuously.

Furthermore, the popular networking format “Wine o’ clock” provides attendees with an ideal opportunity to establish new business ties over some drinks and snacks. Thinking outside the box is equally important for shipowning companies and naval procurement professionals who need to find custom-tailored, timely and economically feasible solutions for their enormous technological challenges in fleet renewal and maintenance.

Clear the stage: Conferences now open for everyone

Knowledge transfer is the purpose of the conference programme, as well which will feature leading experts. As a major novelty, the conferences, which used to charge entrance fees, will be held on so-called Transition Stages in the exhibition halls for the first time. All trade fair participants will have free access to the insightful panel discussions and presentations on these open stages. High-level delegations from navies and coast guards of many countries are expected to attend the international conference on maritime security and defence, MS&D on 5 and 6 September (refer to comment by Admiral Schneider).

Whether it is about driving efficiency through digitalisation, climate protection through innovative propulsion technologies, or security through smart hi-tech solutions for navies, at the leading international trade fair of the maritime industry we will jointly set the stage for the maritime transformation – and you are invited to join!

Claus Ulrich Selbach is Business Unit Director – Maritime and Technology Fairs at Hamburg Messe und Congress