This month we spoke to Karl Birgir Björnsson of Hefring Marine to understand their history and why they joined the Workboat Association.
Can you tell us about Hefring Marine?
Hefring Marine is an Icelandic deep-tech company that offers advanced maritime solutions to professional fleet operators. Their flagship product, IMAS, is an on-board AI system that collects real-time data from vessel motions, engines, and instruments to improve safety and efficiency. IMAS generates speed guidance for prevailing sea conditions, reduces the risk of accidents or damage to the craft and personnel on board, and centralizes collected fleet data for analysis and reporting. At Hefring Marine, a team of experts in vibration and condition monitoring, algorithm development, and engineering are dedicated to providing cutting-edge solutions for the unique demands of professional vessel operators.
What is your role within the Company?
As the CEO and Co-founder of Hefring Marine, my role is to lead the company’s strategic direction and oversee day-to-day operations, as well as working with our team of experts in the continuous development of our company’s flagship product, the Intelligent Marine Assistance System or IMAS. I am also heavily involved in business development and building relationships with clients and partners. I believe that collaboration and partnership are key to our success, and I am always seeking new opportunities to grow and expand our business.
What is your career background?
I have a degree in Business Development from the University of Kent and the City University of Hong Kong. Prior to starting Hefring, I worked at Össur hf., a global prosthetics and orthotics company, as a senior financial analyst in Corporate Development, focusing on mergers and acquisitions, Corporate Development, and Business Control. I entered the maritime industry in 2017 when I joined Icelandic boat manufacturer, Rafnar ehf., as Head of Business Development. While there, I developed sales, marketing, and partnership strategies, and it was during my time at Rafnar ehf. that the Hefring Marine project was born as a spin-off from research conducted on boat motions and wave impacts.
What excites you most about your job?
The opportunity to lead a team of experts dedicated to providing cutting-edge data-driven solutions to the unique and complex challenges facing professional fleet operators. I am passionate about leveraging technology to solve complex problems and am constantly seeking new ways to enhance our offerings.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I am passionate about my work, but my family is a top priority for me, and I enjoy spending quality time with my loved ones. Exercise is another important aspect of my life, and I make it a point to stay active on a regular basis. I enjoy running, weightlifting, and participating in various fitness challenges. Basketball is a sport I have loved since I was a kid, and I still enjoy playing it with friends whenever I get the chance. I also enjoy exploring new places and trying new foods, experimenting with new recipes in my own kitchen.
What has Hefring Marine achieved so far?
Hefring Marine began as a research project in late 2018 but the concept received its first financial backing and commercial interest in 2019. When the pandemic hit, we used the opportunity to advance the system’s development, working with partners and our first customers who had the opportunity to receive prototype versions of the Hefring Marine IMAS system before the pandemic hit. By the end of 2021, we had our first commercial version of Hefring Marine IMAS ready for deployment and the first customers begun installing their systems in January 2022. By the end of the year, we had sold multiple systems and collected just under 100,000 km worth of operating data from various vessels around the world. We continue to grow and evolve the solution, pushing out new features and learning with our partners and customers how we can better target their problems, such as fuel consumption, safety, maintenance and asset longevity, with data-driven solutions for active operating guidance, monitoring and analytics.
What are your goals for Hefring Marine?
Our goal is for Hefring Marine to be a one-stop-shop solution for all data-driven needs of the modern vessel fleet. From curbing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and improving the safety of passengers and crew, to ensuring a high-level overview of the fleet, logging vessel performance, negotiating improved insurance premiums to managing maintenance logs and predictions, Hefring Marine IMAS will have the solution for you.
Why did you decide to become a member of The Workboat Association?
Hefring Marine understands the importance of being part of a network of like-minded professionals in the maritime industry. The Workboat Association is a highly respected association that represents the interests of commercial workboat owners and operators, and offers valuable resources and networking opportunities.
How do you feel The Workboat Association can benefit you?
Becoming a member allows Hefring Marine to connect with other members of the industry, stay up to date with the latest trends and developments, and showcase our innovative solutions to potential customers. It also provides a platform for Hefring Marine to collaborate with other members on issues related to the industry, and to share knowledge and expertise.