Singapore, Swire and shipping sustainability

In the realm of maritime operations, where every ounce of fuel efficiency counts, Nishant Dhyani stands as a beacon of expertise. As the head of fleet efficiency at Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk, Mr Dhyani is tasked with the responsibility of optimising the container ships and bulk carriers owned and operated by Swire Bulk and Swire Shipping. In this interview, conducted in Singapore at Gastech 2023, Mr Dhyani shares valuable insights into his role and the broader mission of enhancing fleet efficiency in an industry facing growing sustainability challenges.

At the heart of Mr Dhyani’s role is the unique challenge of straddling two distinct corporate entities, Swire Bulk and Swire Shipping, while harmonising their sustainability efforts. Mr Dhyani clarifies, “Both companies are separate entities, but my work is for both the companies, so you can say I’m more of a corporate function.” This strategic convergence enables a cohesive approach to sustainability, fleet efficiency and decarbonisation across both organisations.

The three pillars of sustainability

Mr Dhyani elaborates on the three pillars that define his work within the Sustainability and Decarbonisation department. First, there is sustainability, encompassing elements such as community care, corporate social responsibility, and addressing issues like single-use plastics. Then, there is fleet efficiency, a cornerstone of his role, focusing on optimising energy consumption, fuel efficiency and environmental compliance. Finally, the third pillar revolves around decarbonisation, strategically charting the course for alternative fuels and engine technologies. Mr Dhyani’s primary focus is on the second pillar, fleet efficiency, which involves the daily optimisation of vessel hardware, software and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.

A pivotal aspect of Mr Dhyani’s role is ensuring Swire’s fleet operates at peak efficiency. He explains, “We make sure our vessels, from both the hardware and software points of view, are working as efficiently as possible.” Hardware optimisation includes engines, propellers, hull maintenance, auxiliary engines and more. Software optimisation, in Mr Dhyani’s terms, involves the soft skills of the onboard crew, such as the captain’s decision-making regarding voyage optimisation based on factors such as weather and trim.

To achieve these goals, data is a vital asset. Mr Dhyani outlines the approach, “It’s a combination of both. We have a third-party provider, and we are expanding our programme to chartered vessels.” This expansion underscores a commitment to continuous improvement and sustainability across the board.

Mr Dhyani acknowledges a significant challenge lies in changing the behaviour and mindset of the people on board. Traditional priorities have been safety and operational efficiency, but now environmental concerns are an additional dimension. “For them (crew and officers), this has never been an issue before,” says Mr Dhyani. He emphasises the importance of education and awareness among senior officers, as they are the linchpin in translating sustainability goals into actions on the ground.