Larkhall becomes more digital

A recent collaboration between Technology & Innovation and Larkhall has resulted in better service for logistics customers. They can now track their goods, get precise delivery times and share documentation with customs authorities. This information also helps us optimise planning and save time.

A lot of fresh food passes through Larkhall every. Due to a recent collaboration between Larkhall and Technology & Innovation, customers can now avoid delays, track their goods all the way and be sure that their documentation complies with the new customs rules that are a consequence of Brexit.

“Before, logistics bookings in Larkhall were done manually. This was very time-consuming and meant there was a high risk of human error as well as a total lack of any data – we could not track goods and we could not use the info in the bookings to optimise our own planning,” says UK Operations Manager Mark Kelly.

Four months ago, T&I Logistics Tribe Product Owner Robert Carlsson started working with Larkhall on figuring out how planning could be done in a smarter way by improving Velocity’s planning capabilities. Velocity is the core planning and inventory platform for Logistics. It’s where we save customer information and it’s our tool for organising goods coming into and leaving the warehouse.


Starting with where we want to end up

“We looked at what we wanted to achieve: we wanted to avoid the flow of goods being slowed down by Brexit customs processes. We wanted to enable fast booking and handling and let customers track and trace their goods,” Larkhall Logistics Cold Chain Manager Gavin Kelly says. “We investigated what Velocity was capable of and worked closely with Robert and his team to find out what was possible, what we needed, tested new capabilities, provided feedback and ultimately ended up with a digital offering to customers where they get a triple benefit: they avoid paperwork, because everything’s done digitally. They can be sure that the customs authorities have all the mandatory documentation they need, because the built-in Brexit features communicate with the receiving countries on the continent. And they always have exact delivery times,” Gavin says.


From 15 minutes to 10 seconds

A booking on our end now takes about 10 second to process, down from 15 minutes when the process was manual and we had to phone customers with their delivery times. Customers can now see all their information in DFDS Direct, and we can free up time for our colleagues to provide even better service,” Mark says. “It’s been great working with T&I on making Larkhall even more digital and we look forward to continue working together on improving our warehouse management systems next, in 2021.”

Can ships run on nutshells?

Fuel tanks at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre 

DFDS invested in the start-up biofuel company MASH Energy in 2019 because we want to replace fossil fuels with sustainable ones. B11 blend biofuel now ready to be tested at our partner’s Alfa Laval’s facility in Aalborg, Denmark.

We invested in the start-up biofuel company MASH Energy in 2019 because we need to bring down emissions by 45% by 2030 and start replacing fossil fuels with sustainable ones. If these new fuels are to have a chance of working on the scale that the shipping industry needs, their production needs to be thoroughly tested. MASH energy will soon be ready to ship their biofuel for testing in our partner Alfa Laval’s test lap 4 stroke engine in Aalborg, Denmark. Alfa Laval and DFDS share a history of strong collaboration, for instance on marine scrubbers that reduce air pollution. The upcoming tests are part of the ShippingLab project – a joint project where partners solve maritime challenges that are too big to handle by anyone on their own.


Leftover nutshells key ingredient

MASH energy produces biofuel from leftover nut shells after harvesting in India. Their second generation biofuel is made from pyrolysis, a process where organic materials are chemically decomposed at elevated temperatures without oxygen. The biofuel is a B11 blend, consisting of 11% biofuel and 89% DMA (Marine Diesel). It’s 100% ISO8217 and RMG180 compliant, meaning it’s officially fit for use on ships.

“Biofuel is a clean energy source and can be used in combination with other fuels, to fire up engines. On its own, it’s not the most ideal way for shipping to decarbonise, due to the availability of biowaste for its production and the price – it’s roughly four times the price of fossil fuels today. But it is a very good way for us to reduce our environmental footprint here and now, as it requires minimal/no changes to our ships,” says DFDS Innovation Lead Jakob Steffensen.

“Working with biofuel towards the goal of reducing emissions from fossil fuels is very interesting,” says Superintendent in DFDS’ Technical Organisation Nicolai Gjetting Andersen. He is one of two DFDS members of MASH energy’s Board. “From talking to various stakeholders inside and outside our organisation it is clear there is massive support and great wish to drive the change towards reducing emissions from fossil fuels, even if it is a lengthy and complex challenge. Biofuel is generally becoming a large commodity and is in the long run one of the interim solutions towards reducing CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, existing legislative framework does not support this and biofuel does not currently have a positive impact on DFDS’ CO2 emissions.”


Pearl Seaways is next

Following successful testing the next goal is trying the B11 biofuel on our vessel Pearl Seaways. DFDS has recently been granted the permission to carry out this test from the Danish Maritime Authority.


More to come

Go to Alfa Laval news on marine biofuel testing

Go to MASH energy

DFDS at cybersecurity conference

“To grow our resilience against cyber-attacks across companies and industries, we must share our cyber security successes as well as mistakes and failures,” says Rune Keldsen, CTO (second from left). He represented our industry at an online conference on cybercrime, which also included the Danish Minister of Defence and major Danish industries. 

The threat from cybercrime is very high and very, very real, also for shipping companies. This was demonstrated in the recent ransomware attack on global container line CMA CGM, which completely disrupted their services for days but also Maersk, MSC and Cosco were hit in recent years. And on 6 January 2020, our own BU Med was hit by ransomware, which impacted operations for seven days.

“Ransomware is malicious software (malware) that encrypts a victim’s files or data and then demands a ransom to restore access,” explains Rune Keldsen. He represented shipping in an online panel debate at the ‘the Cyber Alliance Cyber Security Day 2020’. The day included contributions from the Danish Minister of Defence Trine Bramsen, as well as major Danish industries and institutions.

Rune adds: “This kind of cybercrime has grown massively in recent years in line with the growing need for digital solutions and no company, including DFDS, can claim to be safe against such crimes, which can have devastating effects on sales and operations.”

“I was happy to participate in the conference, which I found enlightening and important for raising awareness of our need for taking this increasingly seriously. We are in this together and need to share all the knowledge we have, both new research results and individual experiences.”

“We already work with other ferry companies, sharing our insights and experiences about threats and incidents. But sharing failures and mistakes are equally important if we are to become wiser from our joint experiences. And this requires that we keep building trust between us. The more realistic and open we are, also about our vulnerabilities, the more benefit we will have of such collaborations.”

What you can do
What can you do to help reduce the risk for DFDS? Here are some easy guidelines:

  • Adhere to company policies on usage of any device in the company.
  • Never send your password or personal information in a response to an email.
  • Be cautious when clicking on unknown links from suspicious emails – See more: How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams
  • Don’t download or install programs and other content from suspicious sites without the knowledge and consent of IT.
  • Delete spam immediately without opening it.
  • If you have concerns over an email or other activity no matter how big or small then send it to and they can analyse it and provide recommended actions.

DFDS at Digital Transformation Summit

Our colleagues at the IT Development Center in Turkey help us with digital solutions and have already delivered multiple apps for both our passenger and freight business.

Therefore, Jan Berslen Devrim, Senior Director of the centre, was invited to a Digital Transformation Summit hosted by Bloomberg HT in Turkey.
At the summit, he shared his knowledge and view about the centre’s work, artificial intelligence, digitalization, and new technologies in the logistics industry.
Jan, says: “I believe that the logistics industry can generate more data than any other sector, and we must use all that data to make better decisions and to predict future information systems in logistics.”

New mobile apps
“At the Development Centre, we aim to focus on AI and machine learning to develop more efficient solutions. Currently, we are working on mobile apps for booking and solutions to support the management of storage and movement of units at the terminals,” he says.

National broadcast
The summit was broadcasted on national TV and more than 2.5 million people reached the webinar via the Bloomberg HT website and 267K people watched it live on Bloomberg HT social media accounts.
“It was a pleasure to bring attention to our work at the summit. The team is working hard to achieve better solutions for our customers and stakeholders. This webinar and other speakers prove that no one can survive without cutting-edge long-term solutions” says Jan.

Sustainable fuel is not science fiction

Nel, Everfuel and Haldor Topsøe join Ørsted, Mærsk, Copenhagen Airports, DSV Panalpina, SAS and DFDS to establish one of the world’s largest electrolyser and sustainable fuel production facilities – and apply for double-digit grant from Innovation Fund Denmark.

Today, sustainable fuels are more expensive than fossil fuels. To compete with fossil fuels, the production of sustainable fuels has to become viable. This requires governments to create the right framework for private investments in industrial-scale production.

Joining forces with industry leaders
Earlier this year, we announced that we are part of a ground breaking partnership to establish a 1,3 gigawatt hydrogen and e-fuel production facility in Copenhagen. Part of the facility will be up and running by 2023, in time aiming to provide fuels for maritime, air and road transport. The overall vision for the partnership is to build the project in three phases of 10MW, 250MW and 1.3GW, respectively.

Right now, the partnership is maturing, and has just submitted an application to the Danish Innovation Fund for a large double-digit million kroner amount. At the same time, Nel, Everfuel and Haldor Topsøe have joined the partnership in the first phases of the project.

The project now covers the entire value chain for production, distribution and consumption of sustainable fuels.

“The project is off to a great start and it makes me so happy to see that our diverse innovation portfolio is coming together. What we are seeing now is that one project can provide valuable input – literally – to another.  With this project, we are developing hydrogen production that we can test on an actual vessel, our fuel cell test ship Ark Germania. That will help us answer a lot of questions that are currently up in the air and cannot be answered unless we test and learn from the results. We need a lot of data and testing to be able to make the right decisions when it comes to producing and using sustainable fuel,” says Jakob Steffensen, DFDS’ Head of Innovation and Partnerships.

Jakob Steffensen

Towards zero emission port stays
“In this first phase, we are working on developing hydrogen fuel cells that will help us achieve zero emission port stays. Infrastructure is a key word in these early days. If you can fuel a ship using hydrogen, what does that require in terms of risk assessments, training the crew and technical installations? In the end, we want the entire value chain to be sustainable: the vessels, the terminals, the entire infrastructure. But it needs to be safe, too, as well as responsible and commercially viable. And right now, we are laying the groundwork for making all that possible,” Jakob Steffensen says.


“This is a very good example of how we work with innovation in DFDS: hands-on, collaborating with industry peers and other experts, all with the aim of being able to provide more sustainable transport services. This is in line with our new strategic action plan that describes how DFDS will reach its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I am proud of the team and look forward to seeing the first results,” says DFDS CEO Torben Carlsen.


Go to Danish Berlingske news article from August 19


DFDS in exciting EU-funded green automation project

DFDS is part of an extremely exciting project that tests how autonomous ships and automation in port operations can make waterborne transport and cargo handling in ports and on vessels greener and more flexible. The high-profile project has just received a major EUR 7.5 million grant from the EU.

The ‘Advanced, Efficient and Green Intermodal Systems’ or, more simply, the ‘AEGIS’ project will run for three years. Project partners will use new technologies to develop automated solutions for trans-shipments of cargo.

Three cases
The project consists of three cases. “In one of the cases, DFDS’ role as lead is to shorten the time taken for transshipment and linking ro-ro services in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to inland waterways. As an alternative to rail and road transport, small cargo vessels can link larger ships to rural and urban destinations. This will allow smaller ports and inland waterways, such as rivers and canals, to become an integrated part of the logistics infrastructure,” says Mads Bentzen Billesø, Senior Project Manager, Innovation & Partnerships. “It saves time for the larger ships, and adds flexibility and frequency to the shuttle services. It will also reduce the environmental impact, as the smaller vessels can be powered by electricity.”

Another case led by North Sea Container Line in cooperation with the Port of Trondheim, uses small cargo shuttles to link coastal container ships to rural and urban destinations. The last case is being led by Port of Aalborg, in cooperation with Port of Vordingborg, and will examine how existing small and medium-sized ports can be revitalised by automation to facilitate the transfer of cargo from trucks to sea.

Collaborating to make green transport attractive
“Creating the foundations to reach the full potential of the autonomous trucks and ships is vital for introducing financially-attractive, green transport. However, getting it right is very complex, and not something any of our companies can do on their own,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation and Partnerships. “It is highly inspiring to experience how the EU is supporting this project by enabling multiple companies to learn together and draw on knowledge and skills from the universities.”

The consortium consists of technology providers Kalmar and MacGregor, Grieg Connect and DFDS, which will provide corresponding solutions for digital integration and automation. The consortium is led by SINTEF Ocean and includes research partners Institut für Strukturleichtbau und Energieeffizienz GmbH (ISE), Technical University of Denmark, (DTU) and Aalborg University.

Fuel cell testing moves forward on Ark Germania

Fuel cell testing now moves forward. DFDS has received funding for upgrades to Ark Germania to test fuel cell technologies with partners


At DFDS we are excited about new technologies becoming available for shipping, and we are increasing our involvement in testing, among other things, fuel cells with partnered companies.

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation and Partnerships, says: “Dedicating one of our ships to be a sailing test platform comes with many expenses. We are happy to now say that we have received funding from the Danish Maritime Fund to upgrade Ark Germania to become a large scale fuel cell test vessel for the blue Denmark.”

The development of fuel cells that run on, for example, hydrogen, methanol or ammonia, requires significant investments and testing at scale. This is to to reach the required reliability and cost effectiveness, in order to supplement or replace fossil fuels to propel and power ships.

The zero-emission challenge for shipping companies

Danish and international shipping companies have a big challenge in implementing new technologies in order to deliver reductions in emissions that meet customers and society’s desires for zero-emission shipping. The producers of fuel cell technology are currently not focused enough on the maritime world for this to happen, which is why DFDS and the Blue Denmark collective have made efforts to channel cross sector experience and dedicated projects into realised partnerships.

“We at DFDS can provide fuel cell projects with that scale and a real maritime environment to test in. With this funding we can now begin working with our partners to realise the potential we believe there is in fuel cell technology,” says Jakob.

Expected results

“On Ark Germania we upgrade the electrical infrastructure to allow for testing of up to 1MW fuel cells. Our partners install their equipment in containers that we place on the weather deck, plugged into the ship and their fuel sources. The testing of new battery technology, supercapacitors and detailed analysis of all this also becomes possible.”

“The testing made possible will enable cost-effective live tests for the fuel cell manufacturers and should prove valuable for both DFDS and the Blue Denmark as a whole. Gaining familiarity with fuel cells will help speed up the development of maritime zero-emission fuel technologies, and we hope this inspires further innovation partnerships to give our industry hands-on experience with the new sustainable fuels. With this setup we make it more attractive for businesses to focus on maritime uses of green energy technology, so we can reach our ambitions of developing zero-emission ships,” Jakob adds.

Collaboration about mobile networks on ships

DFDS works with Telenor and other partners to test the use of the powerful 5G mobile networks that allow for much faster data transmission. Ark Dania is the testing ship. MAN, Alfa Laval, DFDS and Telenor discussed and explored the opportunities at a workshop at DFDS House.


5G mobile coverage is well underway ashore, but also at sea where it is not so much about fast data for smartphones. It is rather used a new infrastructure that paves the way for the next generation of digital tools and business models, because we can communicate much faster than today and reduce the latency in transmission time to a few milliseconds. This will enable much closer monitoring of equipment, which in turn enables equipment manufactures to offer better and more circular solutions where the equipment can be upgraded and improved throughout the entire lifetime of the ship.

Workshop at DFDS House

“Telenor Maritime and DFDS have been working closely together for several years and it is natural for us to explore the opportunities in those new technologies and tools together,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of DFDS’ Innovation and Partnerships department.

“But Telenor and DFDS are not the only companies to benefit from new digital opportunities. Therefore, we had arranged a workshop with MAN, Alfa Laval, DFDS and Telenor to explore and discuss how an effective standardised mobile infrastructure can support the work to improve the technical operation of ships in various areas,” says Jakob.

Augmented reality could ease work and collaboration

At the workshop, which took place at DFDS House today on 21 February, MAN said that a good digital infrastructure may open opportunities for supplementing technical manuals with a new generation of support tools that use Augmented Reality to inform the engineers (Augmented Reality is a tool that can show a virtual picture of the engine and its inner and moving parts). It can make teleconferences for troubleshooting practical as an alternative to sending a specialist to the ship.

Open innovation

“We discussed a lot of other opportunities which will be too much to report about here. I am extremely proud that the new mobile network and the use of it is being tested on Ark Dania, and that we can share our ambitions, thoughts and knowledge as we did today to innovate and improve. This is open innovation which is the best way forward for a more efficient and sustainable shipping,” says Jakob.

DFDS joins fire safety project LASH FIRE

The LASH FIRE project puts the seafarers’ perspectives at the core of solutions. From the left: Sif Lundsvig and Lena Brandt.


Fires on ships are immensely dangerous. Our seafarers know this better than anyone, and at DFDS we are actively working on improving fire safety on board our ships.

DFDS now also joins the LASH FIRE project (Legislative Assessment for Safety Hazards of Fire and Innovations in Ro-ro ship Environment) that aims at developing maritime fire safety solutions with innovative technologies, operations and applications.

“A big element of LASH FIRE is to focus on the seafarers’ perspective. That is why we have a specialist, Lena Brandt, who will temporarily join crews in order to learn from them,” says Sif Lundsvig, Project Manager in Innovation & Partnerships.

Lena is an experienced navigator and will in the coming months act as a Sailing Project Manager and Deck Officer on board some of our ships as she engages with seafarers about the realities of fire risks, procedures and systems on board.

Lena says: “Seafarers have many ideas for improvements, and they know what strategies are realistic to implement and which ones may conflict with reality and daily operations. The aim of the project is to take a holistic view on fire safety on board our ships and deal with all the factors involved. This requires an open and anonymous dialogue with our seafarers and taking the time to absorb some of the knowledge derived from their experience at sea.”

LASH FIRE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 814975.​

Power-to-X conference on board Pearl Seaways

Key players in industry joined DFDS to discuss green shipping fuels


Power-to-X is about finding the synergies and creating the scale for turning green electricity into affordable fuel for the shipping industry.

For this purpose, shipping companies, the energy sector, and dozens of other experts joined DFDS in a conference on board Pearl Seaways in Copenhagen harbour on 30 January.

When we announced the conference last month, Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at DFDS, explained what we aim to do with key players such as Maersk, Ørsted, Siemens A/S, Danish Ship Finance and Dansk Energi.

DFDS’ CFO Karina Deacon introduced the conference with some important words: “Over the next six hours you will be discussing solutions for a green transition for shipping. You are gathered here today to do something about it. Those solutions will be necessary for us to renew the maritime and maritime supply industries. We need to become climate friendly to stay relevant in the future, to maintain our businesses and the many jobs we provide.”

Why ammonia is so interesting

“Ammonia can be made from air, water and green electricity. It doesn’t add CO2 to the atmosphere when burned, and power-to-ammonia can be done with high total energy efficiency. Yes, it is toxic and smelly, requiring dedicated precautions, but there is so much potential in this carbon-free molecule as a fuel, that we must take this potential pathway very seriously,” says Tue Johannesen, Senior Innovation Portfolio Manager at Maersk.

Ammonia is already developed to a practical state that can be used by ships, with the three related factors of cost, scale and demand recognised as the key drivers by the conference speakers. Converting green energy such as wind power into hydrogen and ammonia is a viable way of achieving the scale, where costs become viable for industry.

It’s also a chicken and egg situation in terms of what comes first, the demand for the fuel from the industry, or the fuel provided by the energy sector.

Jakob Steffensen said: “The biggest issue is the price gap between black and green energy – it’s much easier to go green if the two meet. We need to learn fast in order to make the right strategic decisions. That’s why this day is all about partnerships, so we can share knowledge, discuss the barriers we need to cross, and drive innovation together.”

DFDS and Karina Deacon thanked the day’s participants: “We owe you our gratitude for being here today. Thank you for sharing your technologies, knowledge and experiences.”

The day brought us great insight from the speakers, with difficult questions and lively discussions throughout. Pearl Seaways provided a great venue, many thanks to the staff on board for hosting all our guests.

Anders Nordstrøm, VP and Head of Hydrogen at Ørsted

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Partnerships at DFDS

Claus Møller, CEO at Siemens A/S and Head of Siemens Smart Infrastructure

Majbrit Hoppe, Business Developer at Funen’s Maritime Cluster

DFDS hosts conference for Zero emission fuels

Power-to-X in a maritime context: Where are the synergies, what is the demand and how do we get the cost down?


DFDS is on the right track for delivering CO2 reductions. We implement new and very efficient ships and we have a team dedicated to scaling up the production of our CO2-negative biofuel. Replacing current fuel with climate friendly fuel is a problem that we and the entire shipping industry need to find a permanent and scalable solution for.

That is why DFDS will be hosting a Power-to-X conference 30 January onboard Pearl Seaways, where the Danish energy and shipping sectors will discuss how we best implement the new generation of zero emission fuels onboard the new generation of ships.

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Partnerships, says: “Levelling the price gap between fossil fuels and the new generation of fuels will be key to driving adoption and enabling us to build truly zero emission ships. This can be done by introducing a global tax on CO2, and by chasing technologies and synergies that can help drive the cost down for, for example, green ammonia.”

The conference will host discussion topics such as how we can scale up Danish and EU production and offtake of renewable energy, where novel technologies need more research to mature, and what infrastructure we need to get synergies working in shipping and the greater society.

“After the conference we hope that the participants will see opportunities in a joint flagship project that can help expedite the green transformation, and that they might be inspired as to what kind of new sustainable business models and growth we can create,” Jakob adds.

Innovation & Partnerships at Power-to-gas conference in December

“In the beginning of December, we attended the Power-to-gas conference at Energinet in Frederica, which our friends in Alfa Laval kindly managed to squeeze us into last minute. It was very inspiring to discuss large scale implementation and infrastructure constraints with the key Danish specialists,” Jakob continues.

Getting the future zero emission fuel for shipping right is of huge strategic importance for both DFDS and Blue Denmark and requires a new generation of ships. In many aspects the zero emission ships will be very different from what we have today. In addition to being highly automated, the engine rooms will be filled with equipment we today have very little hands-on experience with.

Blue Denmark, ourselves, and many other partners are working on getting a better understanding of how the cost of the future zero emission fuels can come down, and when the new technologies are sufficiently mature for us to implement in our fleet.

MASH begins producing oil

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Partnerships, and his team have news about MASH Energy. The biofuel the company makes from by-products of agriculture is to be tested by Alfa Laval.


Not long ago we shared the good news that DFDS had bought a stake in start-up company MASH Energy, which produces biofuel from agricultural waste.

Since then, things have developed, and work is well underway. Oil is now being produced with a reactor in India built by MASH. We are working on the next challenge, scaling, in order to produce enough oil to make it feasible for ship engines.

We listen to our seafarers

We are also in dialogue with our seafarers about their concerns and how to use the fuel on Pearl Seaways, where we will test it in operation.

Concerns Include: If the low viscosity of the biofuel makes it difficult to switch from the low sulphur fuel we use today, and if the biofuel will have adverse long-term effects on the machinery equipment.

“We are very grateful for the support we get from our colleagues at sea and we’ll do our best to provide good and relevant answers to their questions,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Partnerships.

Alfa Laval to test first biofuel batches

In order to minimise the operational risk involved in implementing the new generation of biofuel, we reached out to Alfa Laval, who without any hesitation agreed to help us by testing the biofuel at their test-centre in Aalborg.

“We have joint interests in making sure that the new generation of CO2-neutral fuels become available to the industry as fast as possible. We work a lot with seafarers, and it is a pleasure to assist by making the initial tests here at our test-centre.” Says Lars Bo Andersen, Department Head, Alfa Laval.

Only when the shoreside tests have been completed to satisfaction, will we move on to onboard tests, where the focus will be to evaluate the long-term effect of the MASH biofuel.

Patricia Ayoub, Project & Portfolio Manager, is the department’s lead on this project. “It is vital to build upon all the experience and competences that we have onboard our vessels and in the Danish shipping community, and it has been very inspiring to see how we all come together to help DFDS become CO2-neutral as fast as possible,” says Patricia.

DFDS at conference on maritime innovation

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation and Partnerships, represented DFDS at a conference about how collaboration between industries, companies and public institutions can help us create the technological innovation we need for our journey towards a greener, fossil-free future. Photo by Anders Hviid, from the Danish Parliament’s homepage.


On Monday 18 November, DFDS contributed to a very interesting maritime conference at the Danish Parliament.

The conference, which was organised by the maritime union CO-Industri, Danish Maritime and Danish Shipping, had maritime innovation and the green transition of shipping on the agenda.

Jacob Meldgaard, Chairman of Danish Shipping, said in his welcome speech that “it is crucial that we do not diminish our ambitions to strengthen maritime research and develop strong public-private cooperation.”

This was very much in line with the information Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at DFDS gave on our cooperation with the start-up company Upteko about developing a simple, flexible and autonomous drone system that can help ships dock in port, to detect fires, to make inspections and in man-over-board situations.

“Collaboration was really on the agenda, and we were credited for our involvement in such collaborations. Another such example is our investment in Mash Biofuel, which is a good example of how we can contribute to developing such fuel types by partnering with start-ups and helping them gain access to the market, funding and test opportunities,” says Jakob.

“It was a really well-visited conference and I am particularly pleased that it comprised people from our own maritime world, from the vibrant start-up environment, the Danish Maritime Authority – and even politicians who were keen to learn about the initiatives and the opportunities for collaborating on how to speed up our development towards the greener future, which we all want.”

Students tackle maritime cases with DFDS

Maritime Business & Technology Summit: Case competition between student groups from DTU and CBS strengthens the cooperation between DFDS and Maritime studies.


Collaboration is key to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow. This is why DFDS maintains close relations with suppliers, authorities, universities and much more.

Earlier this month, students from Maritime DTU (Technical University of Denmark) and CBS (Copenhagen Business School) Maritime worked together on challenging cases provided by DFDS’ Innovation and Partnerships department.

The week began with DFDS representatives presenting the business and the challenges faced in the operation. The students were provided with operational and background data on vessels, trucks and terminals to be able to identify and explain a selected challenge and analyse possible solutions. Based on available data and knowledge from studies, the students developed technical solutions, implementation plans and business models. On Friday, after a week of long days and nights the students pitched their ideas for the Evaluation Board – Mads Bentzen Billesø from DFDS, Mette Sanne Hansen from DTU Maritime and Henrik Sornn-Friese and Leonardo Santiago from CBS Maritime.

The solutions to the challenges varied significantly, from ideas for optimised operation of vessels and terminals, to lashing of cargo and sustainable power solutions.

The winning team’s solution was an idea for fast and low-emission trailer handling, potentially reducing CO2 emission by 29% and saving 4 hours in average on every port stay with a calculated return on investment of 4 years. An idea we will definitely look into.

Mette Sanne Hansen, Maritime DTU says: “To solve the challenges of tomorrow we need to bring together different competencies to broaden perspectives. The students had a great experience and enjoyed working together with DFDS, trying to solve issues from a real case from industry and in teams with various competencies.”

Henrik Sornn-Friese, CBS Maritime says: “This was the first time DTU and CBS joined forces in educating our maritime students. It provided a very nice opportunity for our respective students to appreciate very different approaches to challenges in the industry in which many of them will likely be future colleagues. Our BizTech Summit is part of the Blue Denmark’s project and innovation partnership in ShippingLab. We hope to see the initiative strongly developing in coming years, further developing the cooperation between Danish Universities in the maritime field.”

Mads Bentzen Billesø, Senior Project Manager in Innovation & Partnerships DFDS, says: “The planning and execution of the event with the two universities have been superb, and the students did fantastic work. In order to improve we need new input, to be challenged and interact with the world around us. This event shows how strong the new generation of candidates for the maritime business is, and how important it is that we combine business and technical knowledge.”

“With collaboration we can achieve so much more. By combining our energy and talents we can create transport solutions that are increasingly sustainable and help move the industry in that direction,” Mads adds.

DFDS tests aluminium sail concept

An interesting take on wind-power made by Econowind has now been installed on Lysbris Seaways for testing.


A metal sail in a box is a novel concept, but it could be a solution to save fuel and emissions for shipping by utilising the power of the wind that nearly all ships once relied on.

The prototype seen in the video above was installed on the deck of Lysbris Seaways on Wednesday 13 November in Amsterdam. What Dutch company Econowind has created is a foldable aluminium sail concept that sits on the deck of a vessel. It comes in a 40-foot container and is a far cry from historic sail designs, as two metallic 10-metre foils, or wings, fold out with the press of a button.

The design and software let the wings move to optimally catch the wind and help propel the vessel forward. Just last week the company received the Dutch Maritime Innovation award for the Econowind unit, which shows promise from earlier testing.

Poul Woodall, Director of Environment, and Vidar Karlsen, Managing Director in Norway, signed the agreement in September for the collaboration with Econowind and Green Shipping Programme (Grønt Skipsfartsprogram or GSP), a Norwegian programme for research into, and development of, green shipping solutions. GSP delivers a theoretical modelling of historic weather data, consumption, routes and more that we use for testing.

Vidar says: “Lysbris Seaways is perfect for testing such a concept. In theory it looks like a good idea, but we need to see if the estimated fuel savings are realistic for this type of vessel. We are going to measure fuel consumption with the sail and get a picture of the efficiency gained over time compared to the regular numbers.”

“The finalised design works automatically, meaning you can open the container from the bridge and open the sail, but for the prototype it’s a bit more hands-on with manual controls and a service engineer present to operate the system. After a successful installation we are now looking forward to seeing the outcome of the two months of testing,” Vidar adds.

Sofie Hebeltoft, Head of CSR, says: “With projects like this we take responsibility for developing new energy sources and methods of propulsion that can take us towards cleaner ships and eventually zero emission shipping. We are therefore extremely grateful for initiatives such as this taken on by Vidar and his team.”

Reducing emissions from ships requires many tools

The need for reduced emissions for shipping is clear, and the way to achieve that goal is to consider all the tools in the toolbox and apply the best ones


Just days ago, we declared our support for and involvement in reducing the climate impact from shipping by joining the Getting to Zero coalition. As we share responsibility for achieving a sustainable shipping industry, we are looking at many possibilities of getting there.

We are continuously carrying out improvements to our operational efficiency, resulting in a 17% reduction in emissions over the last 10 years in terms of CO2 per gross tonnage per nautical mile, and we are working with our partners towards cleaner shipping.

Other shipping companies have recently argued in favour of sailing slower to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. However, Poul Woodall, DFDS’ Director of Environment, sees this as just one tool in the toolbox, and thinks that other solutions fit better into the complex set of factors involved in moving freight and passengers by sea the way we do it in DFDS.

Poul says: “It is possible to find more immediate savings in emissions without impeding our core business by setting up rules that might do more harm in the end. One example is testing a solution at the merged ports of Ghent, Terneuzen and Vlissingen, which is estimated to save 30-40,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Improved planning of the Terneuzen lock, through which some 10,000 sea-going vessels passed last year, is expected to reduce delays considerably, and thereby reduce the number of ships having to use more fuel to make up for lost time.

“From our perspective, we want the captain and crew to exploit their expertise fully with regard to efficient sailing based on the capabilities and conditions of each vessel, which also vary in different regions, and fluctuate with the seasons and even on a daily basis. Sea currents, weather, how vessels use their auxiliary engines and many other factors all play a part in determining the most efficient sailing routes and speeds. Obligatory average speed reductions or speed limits might not work as intended; in fact they could even encourage companies to stick to older, slower and less efficient vessels.”

DFDS supports ‘Getting to Zero’ target for shipping emissions

Joining the Getting to Zero coalition, DFDS supports accelerating the development and deployment of zero emission vessels by 2030


It is both urgent and necessary that we as an industry take climate change seriously, and strive to innovate and to reduce emissions. On the basis of this, DFDS is now joining the Getting to Zero coalition, with the aim of reducing emissions from shipping.

At the UN Climate Action Summit yesterday, 23 September, industries and officials once again came to the table to discuss the required reduction in CO2 emissions, and to set out plans to achieve this. We have a responsibility to take part in this much-needed development.

The Getting to Zero coalition was officially launched on the day of the summit by Global Maritime Forum, and it aims to bring together industry leaders to innovate and achieve the IMO (International Maritime Organisation)’s target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping by 50% compared to the level in 2008.

We want to be part of developing technology that, by 2030, will allow zero-emission vessels and zero-emission fuels to be technically feasible, safe, and commercially viable for deep-sea shipping. This is supported by the more than 70 organisations which have joined the coalition, and 10 countries spanning five continents have also endorsed it so far.

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology, says: “The ideas behind this coalition support much of what we are already doing as we work with partners to innovate. We do have a particular focus on reducing emissions using new technology and new fuels for shipping. Our approach and vast experience within the industry helps us work well with partners, as well as acting as a test-bed for them to try out new solutions, which we are even more keen to do.”

Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS, says: “The global shipping community and its numerous members carry the main responsibility for achieving a sustainable shipping industry, while also living up to our responsibility to ensure that trade and supply chains benefit people and communities. We will only achieve these ambitions if shipping itself drives innovation and collaboration in the industry and with partners outside shipping. Supporting the Getting to Zero Coalition and the ambitious targets it sets, is an important step towards this.”

See the video from the Getting to Zero coalition below.

Korean start-ups visit Copenhagen

We always welcome working with innovative and ambitious people from all over the world to continuously improve. That is why DFDS is very eager to collaborate with promising start-up companies as it combines our know-how and experience with fresh thinking and innovation from other areas, and it can in the end lead to strong partnerships.

This week at DFDS House in Copenhagen, DFDS hosted a pitching event for five different Korean start-ups from the maritime industry. Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology, facilitated the event and started by introducing the Koreans to DFDS and giving an insight into why it is important for DFDS to keep innovating. Afterwards the five start-up companies pitched their products, and the presentations were followed by feedback from Jakob, Jonas Als, Head of UX & Design, Lina Barsøe Rønn Christensen, naval architect, and Rune Jørgensen Daae, project superintendent.

Jakob says: “The start-ups did really well and presented their products with enthusiasm. It was great to their perspective and creative thinking which I was quite impressed by.”

“DFDS is excellent at managing and operating ships because we always look for new and inventive methods that can help us become even more efficient and environmentally friendly. Events such as this one are perfect to find out what is going on in the industry while keeping a look out for potential partnerships.”

Haedong Engineering presenting their developments of a buoyancy body that produces power using solar and wind power at sea

Jakob Steffensen and JJ&Companies Inc. talking about the start-up’s aquaculture automation technology

KOMACHINE introducing their machine industry online platform that connects
machine and spare parts suppliers in Korea with global buyers

Seadronix talked about their
AI-based anti-collision monitoring system for ships

Smart Ship Venture Technology giving insight into their blockchain-based Ship Management System

The ZEEDS vision for zero emission shipping

ZEEDS presents a vision for zero emission shipping. The cooperation is led by Wärtsilä and DFDS supports the work along with several other companies in the industry.


DFDS has joined a partnership for the long-term work of establishing new forms of bunkering ships at sea to reduce the need for docking and to enable faster, greener and more efficient shipping in the future. This incredible vision is not something that can be realised anytime soon, but crucially it is conceived with proven and existing technologies with remarkable future potential.

At Future Innovation Day and Nor-Shipping in early June DFDS co-presented the vision for Zero Emission Energy Distribution at Sea, the ZEEDS initiative which is led by Wärtsilä and supported by Aker Solutions, Equinor, DFDS, Grieg Star and Kværner. The video presented at Nor-Shipping can explain the vision in much more detail than we are able to with a short article. Watch below:

Sif Lundsvig, Project Manager in Innovation & Technology, (right) presented the concept for an engaged audience on 3 June at Future Innovation Day. Sofie Hebeltoft’s presentation at Nor-Shipping on 4 June was likewise met with much interest and support, not least from Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, and Kitack Lim, Secretary-General for IMO.

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology, leads DFDS’ role in the partnership which is spearheaded by Wärtsilä and further consists of Aker Solutions, Equinor, Grieg Star and Kværner. Pictured is DFDS’ Head of CSR Sofie Hebeltoft with representatives from each company.

Jakob Steffensen says: “We have explored potential solutions together, and the most promising idea was presented in Oslo at Future Innovation Day on 3 June and during Nor-Shipping on 4 June. This arena allows us to share our ideas and even more importantly get feedback on how to further develop and improve in order to achieve our goal. Cooperation between companies in the industry is necessary for us to reach consensus on the ways we will get to that vision. It is how we can help shape the future of shipping to be markedly better for the environment.”

Towards greener energy: Innovation and cooperation are a must

“To ensure that our industry is part of a future with greener energy we must innovate and cooperate,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology.


DFDS has reduced CO2 emissions from our ships by 17% over the last 10 years, in terms of CO2 per gross tonnage per nautical mile, and we expect the trend to continue as new, more efficient vessels enter service and our crew members continue to come up with new and creative ways to reduce the fuel consumption of our existing fleet.

But with today’s technologies we cannot reduce our energy consumption enough to counter global warming in due time. New sustainable energy sources must be developed and matured for maritime use, production must be scaled up to reduce cost and a new supply infrastructure must be developed for ships.

We recognise our responsibility to become CO2-neutral as fast as possible and we believe being open regarding innovation and furthering co-creation projects are key to achieving this.

“Biofuel has great potential to enable existing vessels to become CO2-neutral. But in addition to high cost, technical and regulatory issues, the core issue seems to be the lack of large-scale production. Here, DFDS has stepped up with the investment in MASH Energy, a biofuel start-up company, with the intention of maturing the sustainable development and supply chain of CO2-neutral fuel for ships. It is important that our industry supports initiatives and start-up companies in order to reduce the time for new sustainable fuels to become an alternative to today’s fossil fuels,” says Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology.

DFDS is also actively looking into new energy sources for the next generation of zero-emission ships, together with universities, start-up companies and existing suppliers. Future solutions, such as next-generation batteries and fuel cells, have a huge potential for shipping, since fuels like ammonia and hydrogen can be produced with solar and wind energy. But challenges such as high costs and lack of efficient, large-scale storage of hydrogen need to be overcome for this to work.

The future might bring new and more efficient sustainable solutions, but some quite good technologies are already available. One of the biggest general issues with these new technologies is that they are not mature or scalable for the maritime industry. Sif Lundsvig, Project Manager in Innovation & Technology, who joined DFDS earlier this year, is working closely with multiple equipment manufacturers to transfer their green technologies from other industries to shipping and thereby reduce the time needed before the solutions become available for shipping. Sif says: “It has been an eye opener for me to see how much effort DFDS invests in making sure that the future solutions required for enabling sustainable shipping are developed.”

Jakob Steffensen, Head of Innovation & Technology

DFDS is testing intelligent drones

Watch the video featuring Lorenz AI-Link® trailer detection technology, which is being tested in DFDS terminals and is designed to assist with efficiency and safety using autonomous drones.


DFDS is developing and testing drones that can help us keep track of the trailers in the terminals in cooperation with Lorenz Technology, a Danish company developing drones based on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The drones can autonomously zip around the terminal locating trailers, scanning and analysing trailer numbers, while integrating a real-time data flow to terminal management systems. This data can help terminal staff with different tasks, including precise location of trailers and improved weight management when loading ferries for increased operating efficiency.

The capabilities were successfully demonstrated in Vlaardingen and Esbjerg on 10 April 2019 and will be demonstrated to an EU delegation and to Danish Maritime Authority and the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at two separate events in Copenhagen on 28 May.

The drones will be further developed and expanded in the EU-funded OptiPort project with partners; Lorenz Technology, G4S and DFDS. The project will develop and integrate trailer ID and location, damage detection, verification of labels for hazardous materials and furthermore with partner G4S develop numerous security features, including detection and tracking of intruders, displaying their location real-time on 3D maps.

Mads Bentzen Billesø, DFDS Senior Project manager says: “The development of vision technology, AI and drones are going really fast and as with other technologies we would like to be involved and support this development. We will gather valuable knowledge about using intelligent tools which will undoubtedly be part of the future of just about everything.”

If you want to hear more about this, please contact:
Mads Bentzen Billesø –

The video was provided by Lorenz Technology. You can read about their work with DFDS here and also watch a short interview with Mads.

DFDS partners with start-up company Scoutbase to improve safety at sea

A digital solution to improve maritime safety developed by the start-up company Scoutbase is being tested in a pilot project on DFDS vessels and will help identify challenges at sea earlier, so that they can be addressed before they become accidents.


DFDS has partnered with start-up company Scoutbase to improve our ability to identify and address safety risks at sea earlier – and to go beyond the current industry standards. The cooperation with Scoutbase has been going on for close to a year, first in an explorative co-creation phase and now in a pilot phase where the Scoutbase solution is being installed on board a number of DFDS vessels.

Jakob Lynge, Senior Marine Superintendent, Marine Standards at DFDS says: “In order to further improve safety, we need to think differently. We believe Scoutbase can help us do that. We can never stop improving safety. We can never rest.”

Scoutbase allows seafarers across the fleet to anonymously share their experiences with a few simple taps. This makes it possible to capture honest data continuously rather than solely relying on occasional surveys, inspections or incident reports.

People working with safety at sea and ashore can access data about issues such as productivity, safety and well-being across the fleet and in real time.
The data is displayed in a way that makes it easy to identify leading safety indicators. This new data creates a shared understanding across the organisation of the challenges seafarers really face at sea.

Mads Bentzen Billesø, Senior Project Manager, Partnerships, Innovation and Technology at DFDS, adds: “We welcome initiatives that have the potential to improve safety even more. Scoutbase set out to dramatically change and challenge the way we think and manage safety at sea, and it has been a pleasure working with their team on this. I can’t wait to see the results from the pilot on board our vessels in April!”

DFDS engaged in work to standardise and ease communication between ships, authorities and service providers

On 8 February DFDS signed on to join the Maritime Connectivity Platform Consortium (MCC) as its first commercial member, to further contribute to the development of standards for secure information exchange


Communication with ships is burdened by a jungle of systems, services and stakeholders, including port authorities, agencies, traffic control and meteorological offices, as well as suppliers of equipment and services. As secure information exchange is important for safety as well as for operational efficiency, DFDS signed on to join the Maritime Connectivity Platform Consortium (MCC) as its first commercial member on 8 February.

The consortium itself was also established on this date with a signing ceremony at the ‘e-navigation underway 2019’ conference on Pearl Seaways. This is an extension of the ongoing cooperation on the Maritime Connectivity Platform (MCP), an open source and vendor-neutral technology for the digital maritime domain that DFDS has been involved in developing. The MCP brings common internet standards to maritime navigation and transportation systems and enables infrastructure for efficient, secure, reliable and seamless electronic information exchange.

Further evolution of the Maritime Connectivity Platform

Thomas Christensen, Secretary General of the MCC, said: “We are looking forward to continuing the cooperation with DFDS and, hopefully before long other shipping companies, in the future development of MCP. We envisage that the commercial members of the consortium will give a crucial contribution to the further evolution of the platform, thereby ensuring that the platform meets their requirements.”

An MCP testbed has been running for several years and is evolving rapidly, with nearly 100 organisations having signed up to it. In around 2015, the development escalated significantly, when three large projects collaborated on the common use and development of technology. These were the ‘EfficienSea2’ and ‘STM Validation’ projects funded by the EU and the ‘SMART Navigation project’ funded by the Republic of Korea.

Mads Bentzen Billesø (right), Senior Project Manager, DFDS Innovation and Technology, said: “I am very happy we can continue our active involvement in the development of the platform, initially planning DFDS contribution on services for, Near-Miss management, voyage optimisation and automated reporting.” With Axel Hahn (left) from OFFIS Research Institute


The Danish Maritime Authority (DMA), the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea (MOF) are joining the consortium as governmental observers.

See the full press release here.

DFDS propels start-up companies in Maritime Stars

In the next three years, DFDS will take part as a mentor in Maritime Stars, a project run by Maritime Center for Operations (MARCOD) and created to assist start-up companies with product development in the maritime sector. The project is funded by The Danish Industry Foundation and will have several well-established companies acting as mentors and ready to offer guidance, knowledge-sharing and sparring to 15 start-up companies. The start-ups will be chosen by a panel of experts from the mentor companies based on a pitch round.

“We have always been keen to collaborate with promising start-up companies as it combines our know-how and experience with fresh thinking and innovation from other areas. The start-up companies will have great potential to impact on the maritime sector with new unique products, solutions, services and job opportunities for experts in various domains. We are really looking forward to hearing from the start-ups in March, see their ideas and concepts and of course support them along the way,” says Mads Bentzen Billesø from DFDS Innovation and Technology.

“The project fits well into our strategy of wanting to partner up with clever people. We have already got plenty of experience in doing so, for example with the drone company, Upteko, with whom we previously made this project video.”

The 15 start-up companies will develop and mature their businesses through a nine-month programme in which they will produce concepts, business plans and strategies in cooperation with their mentors.

To learn more, see: