After inking a new satellite contract, one of the world’s largest owners of offshore support vessels (OSVs) is set to begin rolling out a smart shipping programme across its fleet
Bourbon Corp will deploy Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress satellite-based connectivity on more than 100 ships for remote monitoring, video conferencing and crew welfare.
Bourbon chief executive Gaël Bodénès said this agreement marks a new stage in Bourbon’s digitalisation strategy for offshore vessels.
“The time has come for operational intelligence,” he said, “of connected vessels, use of predictive maintenance, shore-based control centres, rationalisation of tasks and more.”
Mr Bodénès thinks his fleet will then be ready for smart shipping applications.
“Automation of onboard systems is already a reality for our seafarers, and we must all innovate at speed to invent our business model and our professions of tomorrow,” said Mr Bodénès.
Bourbon will begin deploying its smart shipping action plan, which is structured around a new vessel operational model. It includes onshore support from a new remote monitoring centre and leveraging digital and connectivity tools to reduce fleet operating costs.
The programme is scheduled for deployment on 133 smart OSVs by 2021.
Of these 133 OSVs, more than 100 will run Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress, a hybrid satellite communications system combining higher bandwidth of Ka-band from Inmarsat’s Global Xpress constellation and L-band services from Inmarsat’s fourth- and sixth-generation satellites.
All vessels covered in the agreement will feature advanced three-axis stabilised antennas from Cobham Satcom that were specifically developed for, and approved by, Inmarsat for the Global Xpress satellite network.
Bourbon will prioritise deployment of Fleet Xpress by beginning with its high-end subsea vessels, which have high data consumption and management requirements.
Bourbon thinks these vessels would benefit from deploying internet-of-things (IoT) technology enabled by the connectivity.
These vessels will also have dual satellite Cobham terminals with high-powered amplifiers for additional redundancy.
Inmarsat’s bandwidth will be used for video conferencing, providing real-time video feeds from remotely operated vehicles and deploying digitalisation for vessel management.
Inmarsat Maritime vice president for offshore energy Eric Griffin said Bourbon’s vessels will be able to change bandwidth depending on demand.
“The service provider could raise or lower bandwidth usage as necessary, or even suspend it on a planned basis without penalty,” he said.
“An important aspect of Fleet Xpress is that third party charterers could run their own Fleet Xpress services via a dedicated pipe without interrupting the primary bandwidth being provided to an OSV,” said Mr Griffin.
“Customers chartering OSVs can therefore manage their own smart vessel performance with full flexibility, using existing terminals and hardware on board.”
Mr Griffin expects more OSV owners will follow Bourbon’s drive into vessel connectivity and smart shipping operations.
In another part of Bourbon’s smart shipping programme, Bourbon and its Angolan joint venture Sonasurf and charterer Total will implement remote monitoring and optimisation tools on platform supply vessels with a goal to improve safety and cut operational costs by 25%.
Offshore support vessel owners will discuss the latest digitalisation, connectivity and optimisation technologies at Riviera Maritime Media’s Annual Offshore Support Journal Conference, Awards and exhibition in London on 5-6 February.
Technologies for cutting fuel consumption and improving maintenance programmes will be discussed at Riviera’s Optimised Ship Forum, London on 11 December.