CPO Containerschiffreederei has installed VSAT across its fleet for remote monitoring, IT management, training and crew welfare
Higher bandwidth and faster satellite communications from VSAT technology is enabling container ship operators, owners and managers to use their vessels as remote offices at sea.
CPO Containerschiffreederei (CPO) uses fast satellite communications to connect its fleet of container ships to shore offices for remote IT management and performance monitoring. It uses Inmarsat Maritime’s fast satellite communications to connect its ships to corporate networks.
The Hamburg-headquartered shipowning and management group uses Fleet Xpress VSAT in combination with FleetBroadband L-band services, says CPO managing director Christoph Gessner.
He tells Maritime Digitalisation & Communications that when his group’s container ships use this connectivity, they are “like satellite offices that enable remote IT management and diagnostics”.
“We use Inmarsat VSAT for systems set-up by our own IT organisation,” Mr Gessner explains. “All our vessels are fully connected through FleetBroadband and VSAT systems, so our software is installed from shore. So, no one needs to go on board the vessels to install software anymore,” he says.
CPO charters out its container ships to liner operators such as MSC, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd. It provides information to these charterers on vessel performance and demonstrates it is ahead of the technology curve.
VSAT is used to transmit data from the container ships to CPO’s offices in Hamburg. This includes IT network performance data for remote IT monitoring and data on engineroom system performance and fuel consumption.
“We have several sensors on board collecting data on fuel flow and consumption,” says Mr Gessner. “We know internally that the engines are optimised.” This means CPO can demonstrate vessel and machinery performance to its charterers that pay for the fuel.
“We can prove to the liner operator that the engines are optimised,” says Mr Gessner. It also means CPO can advise charterers if container ship performance is hampered by hull or propulsion fouling.
For this, CPO uses ABB Ability’s Tekomar XPERT smart engine performance diagnostics software on 55 container ships.
Tekomar XPERT provides accurate insight into engine performance by monitoring key performance indicators and enables CPO to optimise its operations.
“We can minimise costs and the environmental footprint, and in return we can pass on these benefits to our customers, through optimising our engine health,” says Mr Gessner.
Tekomar XPERT provides an overview of engine performance regardless of engine make, type and age.
Ships and fleets are listed according to current performance and provide the technical management with an immediate indication on their status.
Tekomar XPERT identifies the necessary adjustments required to reach optimum engine performance and efficiency at a fleetwide level, creating both fuel and emissions savings.
CPO uses Tekomar XPERT for its internal checks and technical support. “Experienced superintendents find this a good tool,” says Mr Gessner. “It is good for crew onboard as they can see how to change conditions and improve optimisation.”
E-navigation and route optimisation
Crew and shore managers use software for voyage planning and route optimisation. CPO uses StormGeo’s Fleet Decision Support Service (FleetDSS), which integrates weather, voyage reporting, sensor data and routeing assistance.
“We are using FleetDSS for weather routeing,” confirms Mr Gessner. “We input data from performance management systems and aggregate this with the weather conditions to identify if fouling or weather increases the fuel costs.”
CPO also uses HOPPE and MAC software for energy, fuel and emissions data collection, management and analysis. This helps optimise fuel consumption and improves energy efficiency.
Bridge teams on its container ships use ECDIS for voyage planning and safe navigation. “We have gone paperless – all of our fleet use digital navigation, keeping in mind sufficient redundancy in case of system failures,” says Mr Gessner. Therefore, CPO was one of the first companies to implement a specialised emergency navigation laptop, which uses the same chart data as the main ECDIS system, but is logically separated by shifted update procedures and has its own global positioning and power resources.
“We are keeping very limited paper charts on board, which are meant to provide better crises management in dense traffic areas,” says Mr Gessner, giving the example of a fire while in the Dover Strait. “It is more comfortable to make handwritten notes in a complex scenario,” he says.
CPO’s container ships have ChartWorld as the main supplier for digital chart cells on board. “With ECDIS, updating charts takes much less time than with paper charts,” says Mr Gessner. “Cost of use is more attractive and crew can use ECDIS for detailed voyage planning in regards to navigational hazards and weather routeing.” To further reduce the workload on board, CPO deployed Chartworld’s Chart Information Overlay Plus (CIO+).
“We realised it would save significant labour when all required temporary chart notices are centrally programmed instead of doing it separately on each vessel,” Mr Gessner explains.
Raising crew competence
During the transition to ECDIS, CPO provided type-specific training on board its ships to ensure crew are competent in its use and functions. It also provides e-learning courses covering different technical subjects on its ships using Videotel equipment and services.
For Mr Gessner, ship VSAT and the training resources are important for maintaining high seafarer morale. “VSAT is good for crew welfare,” he says. “We have private and separate networks for the crew.”
This helps CPO maintain crew retention levels above 98.3%. Seafarers on CPO ships come from its own offices in Germany, plus manning agencies in Poland, the Ukraine, Russia, Romania and the Philippines. This is where CPO uses training centres to improve crew competence and knowledge. “We conduct seminars in Hamburg, Poland, the Philippines and Ukraine,” he says.
“We use simulator centres for bridge management training in Germany and a model vessel training centre in Poland.”
CPO also uses Marlow Navigation’s training facilities in the Philippines. “Simulator training is for operating ballast water treatment systems and high voltage systems,” says Mr Gessner.
NileDutch undergoes digital transformation
Nile Dutch Africa Line (NileDutch) has implemented a digital program for automated data capture and analysis to gain a better insight into container-based supply chains and operations, deploying CyberLogitec Global’s integrated container carrier operations solution Allegro.
“As a leader of the global shipping sector, NileDutch is committed to embracing new technologies to better serve our customers,” says NileDutch chief executive Wim J van Aalst.
NileDutch has built up a network of 85 offices and agencies around the world to generate and manage trade links from West Africa. It plans to expand operations further to produce a global network. NileDutch also wants to accelerate operational efficiency, harnessing real-time data for critical decisions and effective resource deployment.
CyberLogitec’s solution was identified as a key tool to achieve these goals. “Allegro is ground-breaking in many ways, including its capability to convert real-time data into instant, actionable insights,” said Mr van Aalst. “We see it as the cornerstone of NileDutch’s strategy for a future-forward operating model. We have already begun using the system to unlock potential, including exploring cutting-edge services.”
NileDutch ICT director Mark Kraaijenbrink said the program “creates strategic and innovative responses quickly” to improve group efficiency.
“It is imperative for us to have maximum system uptime to continue providing service quality to our customers,” he said.
“Allegro was launched seamlessly and implemented within just nine months between project launch and go-live.”