Interview Darren Rowlands, CEO & Founder Sonihull - Innovation In Maritime And Supply Chain Industries
Darren Rowlands is the CEO founder Sonihull, a company that provides a complete range of fit-and-forget ultrasonic antifouling solutions for any solid surface that is exposed to raw seawater. Darren Rowlands, has been leading as the CEO of Sonihull, the Coventry-based company behind a market-leading anti-fouling system. Sonihull’s technology harnesses the power of ultrasound to prevent algae, weeds and molluscs from colonising man-made surfaces submerged in seawater, and the same technology is used to allow the free flow of product within pipes in industrial applications.
Darren Rowlands has a background in military and police and built a solid career focused on innovation and discipline on solving problems to the Maritime and related supply chain industries.
1. An introduction from you - background, overview, education...
2. Your company Sonihull, organisations and focus?
3. Not having a background in your industry but in military and policing background how did that affect the creation of your company?
4. You are focused on solving green and environmental solutions with your industry. Can you tell us about this?
5. Covid-19 has been a big disruptor of your industry. You have been striving nevertheless and finding new solutions? What ways do you envision to redesign your industry?
6. How do you keep the growth and the innovation of your business as you have been growing 40% a year, special in our Covid 19 times?
7. What are your views on your industry focus on technology and digital transformations and also supply chain solutions coming from blockchain related solutions?
8. As a company that is cleaning and preventing issues with water cleaning solutions for the maritime industry. How do you see the present environmental issues we are facing now?
9. How do you see your industry and the main trends in your company and sectors?
10. The Maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (3rd IMO GHG study). These emissions are projected to increase significantly if mitigation measures are not put in place swiftly. Can you give us some notes on how you see the carbon footprint and green technology and energy?
About Sonihull. Sonihull has developed an industry-leading ultrasound technology that safely prevents marine algae, weeds and molluscs from colonising ocean-going vessels and structures like ships and wind farms. The technology removes the need for poisonous chemicals and microplastics in antifouling coatings and can reduce maintenance costs by up to 90%. We are very innovative in what we do. We collaborate with important universities in Europe who help us foster R & D.
About sustainability in the shipping industry. Sustainability is one of the cores of our focus. We are working tirelessly towards that, and closely with partners and collaborations, like the UN and other important international bodies. No one likes change and our industry is even more reluctant to change. But that change is needed because as it stands right now, what we have is not sustainable. One of the things we continue to explore is how Sonihull is used to ensure maritime vessels are more efficient. In fact we can currently reduce fuel burn on vessels, making them greener and more sustainable, by protecting a vessels niche areas, the technology already exists within the Sonihull product range. What we need to do now is to adopt it and we are striving to ensure that happens.
In fact, we are pollution prevention company. But we need to have a holistic approach that requires a collaboration between every part of the biofouling/ antifouling industry. There are a lot of green technologies that aren’t working, however the fact that companies are trying to be more sustainable is fantastic for our industry. So although the foundation is there, there is still a lot to do, to really create a sustainable industry that is likewise functional. And R&D is, as usual, the starting point for that.
About the maritime industry. There is a lot going on in the world which is impacting the industry. Covid-19 is disrupting everything. There are vessels that aren’t allowed into ports to offload or for general maintenance and that is a massive disruption for the industry. In our industry, we sat down and from a business perspective we decided to face up to the covid pandemic. After talking with our investors, we decided to keep growing as a business and, for example, we decided to go out on a search for talent to grow our staff with the best minds and skills, that can deliver success and help us navigate the challenges and prepare us better for the future. We also set out a strategy to ensure we continued to be market leaders, primarily focusing innovation and sustainability.
The pandemic is causing all kinds of disruption in the commercial shipping sector. From falling freight-rates to in-water mothballing and long delays for scheduled drydocks. But, one thing remains constant, algae, weeds and barnacles are still growing on ships. Our systems can protect hulls, pipework, cooling systems and propellers from the rigours of fouling, without the need for drydocking or expensive in-water cleaning. What’s more, they can be fitted by small Covid-safe teams and need very little power to be effective.
Sonihull has developed an industry-leading ultrasound technology that safely prevents marine algae, weeds and molluscs from colonising ocean-going vessels and structures like ships and wind farms and any wetted area that suffers from growth problems. The technology removes the need for poisonous chemicals and microplastics in antifouling coatings and can reduce maintenance costs by up to 90%. The company is transforming the way that marine applications are approaching antifouling, an industry that is worth about $100 billion annually. When fouling builds up on a ship’s hull – it can increase drag and fuel costs by up to 60%. When it builds up in raw-water cooling-systems – it can destroy the main engine and put a ship out of commission.
Sonihull has harnessed the power of ultrasound and its systems are already saving up to 90% of capital and MRO costs in vessel box cooler installations alone, compared to Impressed Current antifouling systems.
Currently, 95% of all antifouling systems rely on the release of toxins into the environment – this is not environmentally sustainable. The clock is ticking because the IMO (International Maritime Organisation, the world’s maritime regulatory body) is legislating towards ‘zero harm’ solutions. Sonihull technology has zero biocides, zero poisons are leached into the oceans, zero microplastics are shed from ablative coatings and it has zero impact on other marine life.