Newsletter June 2018 - Happy Midsummer!

Time to move on

In business, as well as in human life, there is a need for renewal and change. In next August I will have worked with seafaring for 40 years. From now on, I will give my contribution to the field of shipping through board work. At the turn of the year we successfully completed the merger and the organizational transformation making VG-Shipping the parent company of Meriaura, including a significant emphasis into quality management systems (which will be further reflected in this letter).

The main functions of the Group maintain; the bulk fleet is expanding both in size and scale, the deck cargo carriers are diversifying their activities, Aranda has been "updated" to meet the challenges of the future, etc. Our new Board of Directors at VG-Shipping has had an efficient  start. The members of the Board are Satu Kairinen, Riinu Walls, Antti Pekanheimo, Managing Director Elisa Mikkolainen, Jutta Seppänen as secretary (see Jutta’s presentation at the end of this letter) and myself as the Chairman.

The Board has decided to respond to the market developments by chartering in larger bulk tonnage, especially for the growing demand within bio- and circular economy. This market area has been important for Meriaura since the beginning of the company's history. Our next vessels will have significantly more efficient cubic/dead weight ratio than the existing ones in our fleet. The new branching out will not reduce the importance of the ”traditional traffic flows” in our service offering.

I am also delighted to see that environmental issues are promoted and advanced in Meriaura without my contribution. Meriaura will introduce carbon footprint report for each voyage performed, as far as I know, as the first bulk cargo carrier in Europe.

There is a change in my own living environment too; industrial Naantali has partly changed into the rolling hills of bioeconomy in Midi Pyrenees. A few hours away from the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay. Sometimes you have to go far to see near.

wishing You a good summertime,

Jussi Mälkiä

Chairman of the Board


Meriaura reports carbon footprint with Fleetrange

Fleetrange, an IoT based optimizing tool for operational awareness, has been in use at Meriaura now for a year. Meriaura has been the piloting partner in developing the optimizing tool together with Fleetrange. Meriaura aims at digitalizing the operations through optimization of shipments and minimizing ballast legs. Fleetrange updates the situational picture (ships’ positions, speed, and ETAs) as well as weather and ice conditions in real time.  “The vessels’ programmes change frequently, and Fleetrange helps us to evaluate the impact of the changes to the schedules and profitability. We are able to react to changes quicker than before”, says Elisa Mikkolainen, Managing Director of Meriaura Group.

The environmental aspect is a key feature in Fleetrange. When planning the schedules of the fleet, minimizing fuel consumption is essential. Fleetrange tracks the fuel consumption and CO2 emission both by voyage as well as by transported unit. The carbon footprint is compared to other modes of transportation. “We are very interested to see how much lower the emission levels are with our new EcoCoasters which consume about half of the fuel compared to traditional vessels of the same size.”  Meriaura can now create a report in Fleetrange showing accurately how much fuel was consumed, and what kind of emission levels generated in a specific shipment.

The development will not stop here: in the nearest future Meriaura hopes to expand the reporting.  All greenhouse gases should be taken into account, not only CO2. This applies for example to LNG, a major source of methane emissions contributing to global warming. “Environment is of great concern to both Meriaura and our customers. Therefore, we want to develop our environmental reporting. Eco-efficiency and customer satisfaction go hand in hand.”


R/V Aranda refurbished more environmentally friendly

The marine research vessel Aranda’s renovation project that began in August 2017 at Rauma Shipyard is coming to an end. The sea trials have been carried out during last week.

The aim of the renovation has been to modernize the vessel to meet the needs of future marine research and extend the vessel’s service time with 15-20 years. The renovation increases the vessel’s energy efficiency, which reduces emissions and operating costs. The refurbishment has involved adding a new block in the central section and redesigning both the aft and after-deck. The additional metres will not only facilitate the expansion of research and laboratory spaces, but also the transition to a completely electronic power transmission in accordance with new research requirements.

VG-Shipping, that has been managing and crewing Aranda since 2006, has been supervising and consulting the vast renovation project and represented the Owner SYKE onsite. During Aranda’s docking Meriaura’s multipurpose vessels Meri and Aura have performed the research expeditions of SMHI and SYKE.


Quality management at Meriaura Group

Meriaura Group’s quality management system was audited in June to comply with the new ISO 9001:2015 standard. This standard is based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.

What was then evaluated in the audit? Often the management system is seen as a manual of directives. However, it is not about papers, it is about doing and acting. The recent evaluation therefore examined what has been done and to what extent in accordance with the principles of quality management. These principles include customer orientation, leadership, full participation of people, processional approach, improvement, evidence-based decision-making and relationship management. The most important is customer focus: we want our customers to be happy and satisfied with our service.

Ismo Saaros, Director of Project Management at VG-Shipping has been developing our quality management system during the past year. The job got done and now it’s time for him to take a break. We thank Ismo for the years he has worked with us and wish him good luck with the future challenges!    

Introducing our staff: Legal Counsel Jutta Seppänen, 29

Tell shortly of your study and work background?

I specialized in contract law at the University of Turku. After graduating in early 2013, I worked briefly for the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) before being offered a job as a project coordinator at the University of Turku. During the project my focus shifted from contract law to maritime law, and I started a PhD research on contractual framework for maritime commerce. In spring 2016 I put my knowledge into practice when I started working for Meriaura Group. I am also a licenced legal counsel after passing the advocate’s examination and being granted the licence referred to in the Licenced Legal Counsel Act earlier this year. Thus I may represent all companies in Meriaura Group in court, if need be.

Describe your work at Meriaura?

In short, I am responsible for all legal issues involving Meriaura Group. My daily work ranges from advising on a variety of issues, such as risks and liabilities, to sorting out contractual disputes and everything in between. My job description is quite varied, and it requires knowledge on, among other things, commercial law, contract law, maritime law, and labour law. 

What do you like the most in your work?

I’m happy when my contribution is helpful to my co-workers. One of the best things about my work is being part of a team; almost everything I do supports, facilitates, or promotes the work of others in Meriaura. I also like to solve problems through legal arguments and delve into details of maritime law.

What you don’t like?

Well, sometimes it can be taxing to handle cases involving termination of employment, since such cases can be quite messy.

Since autumn 2017 you have also worked as the Secretary General of The Shipowners’ Foundation in Finland. What has this position taught you?

My work has given me an interesting viewpoint of the ship-owning industry in Finland. It has certainly taught me about the outlook for Finnish shipowners. It’s delightful to see that many of the applicants (for the grants awarded by the Foundation) are young people interested in the shipping industry. The position has also taught me a great deal about how to manage and run a foundation in practice, on a day-to-day basis.    

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a voracious reader, so I can be found reading or listening to audiobooks whenever I have some spare time. I also like to travel and take my dog for long walks around beautiful Turku.    

Meriaura Group
Linnankatu 88, 20100 Turku, Finland
puh. +358 2 2111 600