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Heading towards the new decade

Again we are counting the last days for another year that have passed and it´s time to sum up what have been achieved, what went well and where there´s possibly still space for improvement. Shipping can be compared to life in general, regardless of how good your plans and intentions are, there will be surprises and needs to adept to them. As there are many factors beyond Charterers and Owners control, our common job is to make the best out of the given circumstances. Especially the last weeks have reminded us how exposed we are to the whims of the weather, just to mention on factor that can turn things upside down.  It goes without a saying that an open, and both-way communication with our customers and counterparts is crucial in order to make the best on basis of the prevailing situation. This year has not been an exception in the sense that everything has not gone as planned from the beginning, but on the whole I think we together have performed quite well. I´d like to take the opportunity to thank you all for a smoot and fruitful corporation and your valuable input to achieve common objectives. A big thank you also to everyone who responded to our customer survey, which helps us to improve our performance henceforth. 
Besides working hard on everyday issues, we have put a lot effort to enhance our actions to make our business more sustainable. Climate change has received a lot of attention both locally and globally and there is a broad consensus that it is time to move from talks into action. Unfortunately, much of the discussions are still argumentation about who should make what and when and rather to make the famous “someone else” to take the first step. In our company environmental issues have always been given high priority and we are committed to step by step walk the path towards a cleaner shipping industry. In 2019 we took two remarkable leaps by launching both our Zero-waste program for our vessels and the EcoVoy chartering contract. Whereas the zero-waste program is an internal challenge where we strive to reduce the amount of waste onboard and ensure that the remaining waste is taken care of responsible, the EcoVoy-contract offers our customers an opportunity to be part of and to benefit from an almost CO2 neutral shipping method. When launching this concept in August we had rather moderate expectation for the first year, but we can now see that the interest for this “product” has been great and our goals have already been exceeded.  This encourages us to continue working for this cause in the future.
For the upcoming year there will be some amendments in our coaster fleet as some of our TC-vessels will be replaced by vessels that we consider to better suite our customer needs. We will also continue to increase our activity in the project market, may it then involve larger or smaller units, we are there to provide solutions. Below, you can read more of the projects we've been involved in this year, and introduction of our Project Sales Director Jessica. 
Overall, we expect the new decade to bring new opportunities and challenges. Let´s take advantage of the opportunities and tackle the challenges together. Although the last months of this year have been grey and unusually rainy, we look forward with confidence to a new and exciting year.
Meanwhile wishing you a peaceful Christmas and joyful New Year!
Beppe Rosin
Managing Director of Meriaura

p.s. Tämän tekstin voi lukea myös suomeksi täältä

2019 – A year full of energy for Meriaura Projects

Another year filled with exciting projects is coming to its end. Our special ladies have been serving the European energy sectors throughout the years, and this trend held its ground also in 2019. And, based on already fixed commitments and powerful market signals in terms of 2020, we can only conclude that why step off the well-tested path – Energy keeps the markets and vessels rolling. Furthermore, Meriaura has again renewed our contract with one of the leading shipyards in Northern Europe, covering the transportations and engineering services of ship sections, and our goal is to further strengthen our position in this industry in 2020 and beyond. Our clients in the harbour crane and other heavy port equipment segment have also kept our fleet busy, which we are very grateful for, and will naturally encourage you to do the same also next year.

We have gathered some ‘milestone’ projects to this article to illustrate achievements of our deck carriers MV Aura and MV Meri from the past 12 months, while also giving a short preview of certain projects lying ahead of us in 2020. It goes without saying that even when these certain ‘milestone’ projects reflect the nature of our business very well, there’s still numerous other long-term partners and new clients that have utilized our services in 2019. Thank you all so much for your patronage this past year; we’ve truly enjoyed serving you.

Read the article about the different projects on our website and see some pictures of the Northwester 2, Askeladd, Johan Castberg and Johan Sverdrup projects, Hising bridge project, and some future plans and our involvement in Moray East Offshore Wind Farm project

Zero-emission fuel cell technology is tested on R/v Aranda

The Finnish Enviroment Institute SYKE and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have a joint project for testing hydrogen based fuel cell technology on R/V Aranda. A pilot plant that will be built in a container is currently under construction, and will be placed on Aranda’s deck in summer 2020 for test use. The project is funded by European Union.
Fuel cell technology based on renewable hydrogen is clean and emission-free. The fuel cell chemically generates electricity by converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water vapor. In Aranda, this waste heat will be used for heating, and electricity for lighting. The technology has already been applied on land, for example in camper vans, and also in smaller scale vessels such as road ferries.
“The big idea behind this experiment is that this energy source is emission-free, and water contains unlimited amount of hydrogen. In the future hydrogen could be produced from water onboard a ship, e.g. with solar or wind energy”, says Jukka Pajala, Senior Adviser of SYKE. The fuel cell at Aranda will not yet be able to rotate the propellers of the ship, as the system is small and we have hydrogen only for a few days. “Although we are still technically quite far away from ships being powered by hydrogen alone, this is still an important alternative for the future of shipping. There are already larger projects on the design tables in Europe, ”Pajala continues. VG-Shipping's role in the project is to contribute to the practical work and techincal modifications asianon board. “We are consulting as a specialist in connecting the system to the ship,” says Lasse Smirnov, Technical Manager, who is responsible for Aranda's technical management at VG-Shipping.

Lue uutinen suomeksi

VG-Shipping technical team

VG-Shipping’s technical land organisation has been strengthened by two seaman during 2019 and the whole organisation’s tasks have been partly redefined. The main purpose of the land organisation is to ensure uninterrupted performance for the ships under VG-Shipping management, provide effective preventive maintenance and monitor costs. The most important cooperation partner for the technical land organisation are the crews of the ships. The land organization supports masters and engineers onboard the vessels in decision making. Smooth cooperation, interaction and mutual communication between the land organization and the crew are extremely important for a good outcome. VG-Shipping's crewing and technical management services are unique in Finland. Our goal is to provide our partners with the most efficient, economical and practical service possible. Close cooperation with our stakeholders also guarantees the opportunity to develop and expand our services. 

Meet the whole team and their specific areas or responsibility

Tai lue uutinen suomeksi

News from the Ship Waste Reduction Project: Reviewing Food Supply and Food waste

In our ship waste reduction project ”MERI”, launched earlier this year, we are reviewing food and provisions. Food accounts for almost one third of the human impact on the climate. When edible food is thrown away, all the energy and work involved in growing and cooking is wasted. The problem is not the bio-waste itself, but rather the unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions from production and nutrients causing eutrophication. There would be less of both if the produced food was fully utilized.

We provided two composters for test use on M/V Polaris VG. The experiment is for controlling the amount of food waste and handling of bio-waste. The first experiences show that compared to a household more bio-waste is generated, as the ship's inhabitants are all adults and eat all daily meals on board. Because meals onboard are not ready-to-eat food, a large amount of the generated bio-waste is potato skins, coffee grounds and other waste that is not wasted food.

We are also in the process of concentrating our ship provisions, enabling a closer cooperation with the supplier e.g. to reduce packaging, follow orders better, and also save costs. In order to reduce food waste, we are drawing up guidelines for ships with researchers specialized in food loss. Making the meals onboard more environmentally sustainable is one aspect in our project. The purpose is not to lower the standard of meals, but to increase systematic planning. We have also delivered fish grown in recirculating aquaculture system to our vessels during autumn. Sustainably produced fish is one way to replace meat, that has a direct positive influence on CO2 emissions and the state of the Baltic Sea.

Lue uutinen suomeksi

The whole organisation for environmental responsibility – staff’s initiative for the use of biofuels in cars

At Meriaura Group we have tried to encourage our staff to come up with new ideas how to increase our environmental responsibility. Developing the practices at the office is a challenge, as we have already done all the  things that are easy to do; we use renewable electricity, recycle waste, and strive to develop different processes paperless. One of our staff member came up with an idea concerning traffic between ships and office and moving around in general; shifting to use of biofuel in company cars. The management team liked the idea, and in a low organisation decisions can be taken and implemented quickly. Crew changes, ship visits and deliveries etc. will from now on be low emission, since biofuel will be used in company-owned cars whenever possible. It is an advantage that our staff is active, and ideas are not only brought from the top down, but responsibility for the environment is a concern of the whole organisation.

Introducing our staff: Project Sales Director Jessica Saari, 32


Tell shortly of your study and work background?

My background isn’t really related to shipping. My previous career was in a healthcare industry – I got my first job as a personal care attendant when I was 14, and I also ended up studying nursing in the University of Applied sciences in 2007. In 2009, out of pure urge to see the world, I applied for a working holiday visa to Australia, and spent the next two years there travelling around as an employee of a nation-wide nursing agency. After returning to Finland in 2011, it was time to look for new challenges in life again in my cosy homeland. I applied to Turku school of Economics, with successful results; I studied Operations & Supply Chain Management as my Major, along with International business and Economic Geography as Minors. 
In 2012, I managed to get a Summer vacancy in Meriaura group in the accounting department, and the ball has been rolling ever since. Beside my master’s studies, I continued to work in the company group, gaining a position as a vessel operator. During this period, I had a chance to experience the work culture in Turku shipyard as well for a few months, which increased my personal interest towards the heavy project industry. Towards the end of my studies, I worked as an operator in Meriaura’s project department, and before I knew it, I got increasingly involved in chartering side of the business. One thing led to another with a speed, and by the end of 2016, I celebrated my graduation as M.Sc. in Economics, and had achieved the role as the Head of Meriaura’s project department. And, I haven’t looked back since.
Currently I’m studying PG Diploma in Maritime Law in World Maritime University; graduation expected in March 2020 (agw wog).

Describe your work at Meriaura?

The job description is very versatile, but in short, I have commercial responsibility of the company’s project department. This again include various elements like strategic management and development of long-term project sales, evaluation of current and future tonnage requirements in the project cargo market, budgeting and so on. Furthermore, being a former vessel operator, I still find myself getting involved in (and enjoying) the operational side of things whenever possible. 

What do you like the most in your work?

In general, Project industry is extremely innovative and inspiring, and different market segments are in a constant phase of change. You need to stay on top of things (and preferably even a bit ahead) in terms of the market and different industry players to stay competitive, and to be able to offer solutions instead of creating problems. 
No project is identical, and even with long-terms customers and partners, you are never ‘copy-pasting’ yourself. And, that’s what makes the project side of the business, in my opinion, the ultimate place to be in shipping.
And, our project team is simply awesome! 

What you don’t like?

Sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to have a full week with no surprises – Just simple days at the office to catch up on things, leave early, and just knock yourself out of the work mode for the rest of the day. 

Tell something about your family

I’m married to a great guy, who works with heavy industry and shipbuilding as well. As a cherry on the cake, my father-in-law has been working with marine technology and shipping his entire career as well, so when we are all gathering in his summer house, it’s not hard to guess the most common discussion topics.
I’ve four siblings, and just became an aunt for the first time this Autumn, which is just amazing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Literature to feed the soul, running to keep the body (and partly mind) in a reasonable shape.
When the place and time are right (which is way too seldom nowadays), skiing and floorball are also close to my heart. 
I never say no to relaxing weekend breaks in Finnish archipelago (Sauna is perhaps the best invention ever), and tend to enjoy outdoor holidays best in more global scale as well. So, a proper Finn you could say!

Meriaura yritysyhteistyö­kumppaniksi Turun kaupungin ilmastohankkeeseen

Meriaura Group osallistuu yritysyhteistyökumppanina Turun kaupungin koordinoimaan  Resurssiviisaiden yritysten ilmastoteot (REIVI) – hankkeeseen. Hankkeen tarkoituksena on vauhdittaa FISU-verkoston kuntien, johon Turun kaupunki kuuluu, ilmastotyötä sekä koostaa toimintamalli kuntien ja pk-yrityksien käyttöön vähähiilisen liiketoiminnan kehittämiseen. Hanke selvittää miten kunnat voivat aktivoida yrityksiä ilmastotekoihin ja kartoittaa millaista työkalupakkia vähähiilinen liiketoiminta tarvitsee. Hankkeeseen osallistuu 11 kuntaa, joista jokainen etsii alueeltaan 2-3 yritystä mukaan toimintamallin pilotointiin. Meriaura valikoitui yhdeksi Turun kumppaneista. ”Kotikaupungillamme Turulla on kunnianhimoiset päästövähennystavoitteet, kuten meillä Meriaurassakin, joten lähteminen mukaan yritysyhteistyökumppaniksi tähän hankkeeseen tuntui luontevalta,” kertoo Meriaura Groupin viestintäpäällikkö Elina Mälkiä.

VG-Transin ensimmäinen toimintavuosi takana

Meriaura Groupin sisälle vuoden 2018 perustetun maalogistiikkayrityksen, VG-Transin ensimmäinen kokonainen toimintavuosi on takana. Yrityksen kasvu on ollut nopeaa:  ”Lähdimme vuosi sitten nollasta liikkeelle ja nyt kalustorepertuaarimme alkaa olla valmis. Ensimmäisen vuoden tavoitteeksi asetettiin positiivinen taloudellinen tulos sekä toiminnan vakiinnuttaminen, ja molemmat tavoitteet näyttävät toteutuvan,” kertoo yhtiön toimitusjohtaja Tero Tavio. VG-Trans on ensimmäisen vuoden aikana tehnyt kalustohankintoja, solminut uusia asiakkuuksia, ja kehittänyt mm. käytettyjen ravintolarasvojen keräyslogistiikkaa tehokkaammaksi. Osana Meriaura Group-konsernia VG-Trans hoitaa myös yhtiöryhmän sisäiset kuljetukset. Mm. bioöljyn raaka-aineen keräily, valmiin biopolttoaineen kuljetukset ja muut laivojen varustukseen liittyvät kuljetukset hoituvat nyt yritysryhmän sisäisenä palveluna. Suurin osa VG-Transin liikevaihdosta tulee kuitenkin ulkopuolisten asiakkaiden palvelemisesta. Kiertotalouden kuljetuksiin erikoistunut VG-Trans kuljettaa asiakkailleen esim. kierrätysmetalleja ja kasviöljyjä. Konserninjohtaja Jussi Mälkiä on tyytyväinen ensimmäisen vuoden aikaansaannoksiin. ”Ehdimme olla usean vuoden ajan ilman konsernin sisäistä maakuljetusyhtiötä. Konsernitasolla haluamme laajentaa biopolttoaineen raaka-ainekeräilyä ja VG-Trans on tässä avainasemassa, koska logistiikan on oltava tehokasta, jotta kierrätyspolttoaineen elinkaaripäästöt saadaan pidettyä mahdollisimman matalalla tasolla,” Mälkiä kertoo.
Lue lisää VG-Transista yrityksen nettisivuilta.

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Meriaura Group · Linnankatu 88 · Turku 20100 · Finland

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