Fleet management software has enabled Norwegian owners to optimise operations, reducing fuel consumption and emissions
Cloud-based resources, software and analytics have revolutionised the management of OSV fleets, enabling their owners to optimise operations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Operations leaders have been busy implementing digitalisation solutions to manage onboard operations and maximise the utilisation of vessels.
By way of example, Island Offshore is a long-term user of Unisea fleet management software across its fleet of support and construction vessels.
It uses internet-of-things (IoT), data logging sensor networks and analysis software to monitor fuel and environmental aspects of its operations. Data from the fleet helps improve those operations, according to Island Offshore managing director Tommy Walaunet.
“For us, digitalisation started with fuel and emissions monitoring and is our main focus now, together with collaboration tools,” he says. “We are setting up the capacity to transfer significant amounts of data from the vessels and believe there is significant potential in data analysis.”
Island Offshore’s fleet includes 13 platform supply vessels (PSVs), four walk-to-work vessels and three anchor handlers, alongside subsea construction vessels and well stimulation ships.
“We need powerful, data-led solutions on board our vessels and in our offices,” says Mr Walaunet. “We are now setting up and testing the infrastructure required to collect useful operational data from the vessels. Then onshore, we must make sense of the data and sort out how we can use it.”
Adds Mr Walaunet: “Our goal is to enable efficient remote support of live issues using new technology.”
Information from the fleet is used for quality, health, safety and environmental reporting and to support onboard maintenance.
One of the challenges involved in transitioning to such levels of digitalisation is a lack of standardisation between vendors.
“There is still not enough capacity and it is still too expensive”
“It is a jungle out there. with different companies and their systems,” says Mr Walaunet. “Standardisation is very important; it is difficult to find a system that can accommodate all our requirements, but can also be customised for purchasing, remote access, fuel monitoring etc.”
Island Offshore uses Unisea software for some of its data and report processing. “This system offers a broad-brush to support fleet management,” says Mr Walaunet.
Other challenges include finding the right people with the correct competences for data analysis and having efficient methods to transfer data from vessels to shore.
To tackle this latter issue, Island Offshore has installed VSAT, via Marlink’s Ku-band solutions. When certain of its vessels are within range, then can also use coastal 4G and any long-term evolution (LTE) services offshore.
“With this broadband, it is possible to share information and transfer data with offices, but there is still not enough capacity and it is still too expensive,” says Mr Walaunet.
To enhance communications across the fleet, Island Offshore has introduced regular conferencing over the internet using Microsoft Teams.
This enables captains and chief officers to collaborate with the onshore team and management and share documents.
“We can discuss issues and share solutions using video conferencing,” says Mr Walaunet, adding “it is an interesting way to communicate and a supplement to existing systems.”
Mitigating tough markets
Island Offshore is employing digitalisation at a time when margins are tight and it has become difficult to keep the fleet fully employed.
Mr Walaunet says there have been several short-term contracts, but fewer long-term vessel charters at viable rates.
“We have good coverage for 2021, but it is a thin orderbook post 2022,” he says. “We are looking for sustainable contracts for long-term work, but it is difficult to find significant contracts with good returns.”
He would like to see a better, more sustainable demand-supply balance: “It is a fight for survival; our main focus is securing sustainable contracts for all our vessels, but we cannot compromise safety standards in the strive for cost efficiency.”
“It’s a jungle out there”
Continues Mr Walaunet: “We have good relationships with our lenders, who have been flexible, but there is a limit to what can be done. So we need to see better vessel balance through more limits on the supply side.”
Elsewhere, other Norwegian OSV owners are implementing different solutions, including Yxney Maritime’s fleet management and optimisation system. State-run energy group Equinor aims to reduce the environmental footprint of more than 30 vessels it charters for offshore services through a deal with Yxney.
Equinor will roll out Yxney’s Maress software for two years to assist in the data-driven decarbonisation of its chartered offshore service fleet, as part of its ambition to halve its maritime emissions in Norway by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
Equinor will also collaborate with vessel owners and other technology suppliers to unlock significant fuel and emissions savings. Maress will track the footprint and efficiency of Equinor’s chartered fleet of PSVs and anchor handlers.
Yxney Maritime chief commercial officer Sindre Stemshaug Bornstein noted owners using Maress include DOF, Eidesvik, Island Offshore, Saipem, Solstad and Tidewater. “Maress is also used by energy operators, such as Equinor and Aker BP on the chartered fleet of vessels, and by contractors such as DeepOcean,” he says. “This diverse group of clients strengthens the collaboration and capability in the industry to meet the 2030 and 2050 emission targets.”
More than 300 vessels use Maress for operations management and to reduce expenditure.
“With Maress, our clients are better able to plan for, identify, and measure the effect of emissions-reducing initiatives in their fleet,” he says.
“Maress connects to partner cloud solutions and gets new customers quickly up and running by using historic data to calculate baselines,” Mr Bornstein says. “Maress clients typically see savings in the range 3-20%,” he continues. “In 2020, Maress users achieved combined savings of more than 60,000 tonnes of CO2.”
Mr Bornstein went on to point out that the system enables users to understand the efficiency development of individual vessels and diverse fleets, and to use high-quality data to drive decisions on how to decarbonise operations.
Some Maress users have formed a network to share data. “In this network lies a lot of potential for co-operation in chasing the climate targets for the maritime industry,” says Mr Bornstein.
Yxney is also developing a fully automated digital infrastructure for emissions reporting for owners and charterers. In March 2021, it began offering Maress to Kongsberg Digital’s Vessel Insight users on the Kognifai Marketplace.
Kongsberg has added other partners to this platform in recent months. In February it added OrbitMI’s maritime intelligence, compliance, vessel tracking and vessel performance applications Orbit OMI, Orbit Comply and Orbit Reporter.
It has also added Kyma’s specialised vessel monitoring applications, starting with Data Analysis to enable statistical modelling of ship performance data. More Kyma applications will become available to Vessel Insight customers via Kognifai later this year.
Yxney has also joined a group of certified application providers to offer a dedicated application for Inmarsat’s Fleet Data service. Fleet Data collects data from onboard sensors, pre-processes that data, and uploads it to a central cloud-based database equipped with a dashboard and an application process interface (API).
Yxney will use the Fleet Data API to provide clients with connections to Maress without affecting their onboard connectivity and bandwidth.
Real-time analytics software unveiled
Tero Marine has launched its latest real-time analytics system for shipping companies to improve their operations and cut costs. The Ocean Technologies Group subsidiary introduced TM Insights to help shore-based managers identify operational efficiencies.
TM Insights is an interactive visualisation tool that converts real-time data into intuitive reports and charts. It works with Microsoft’s Power BI software and is integrated to work with Tero Marine’s TM Master suite of fleet management programmes.
Managers gain a transparent overview of business performance via desktop or mobile device. They can review the fleet by ship type or by individual vessel to identify areas of concern.
The rollout of TM Insights will be phased, starting with two TM Master modules covering maintenance and procurement. These will provide an overview of the number of purchase orders raised, total spend and procurement methods employed, broken down into an analysis of purchase orders by type, department and order status.
Purchase cycle times can be monitored from the moment a requisition is raised to the time the goods are received. The component jobs overview and its accompanying history report provide a full breakdown of maintenance activities.
Users can detect and rectify any negative performance trends before they are picked up as observations by external authorities.
Reducing fuel by a third
Acta Marine is using Onboard’s software and hardware to manage operations on offshore vessels supporting Wintershall Dea’s oil and gas production from Germany’s largest oilfield, Mittelplate in the Elbe Estuary.
It has Onboard servers on two supply vessels, a crew tender, and a walk-to-work vessel. These servers collect data to help operators improve fuel consumption, primarily via a fuel efficiency application.
Onboard also helps the vessel operator plan sailings to meet arrival times for cargo on the Mittelplate facility.
Acta Marine estimates it has reduced fuel consumption by 33%, through speed reductions on its vessels supplying the Wintershall Dea facility.