Samskip instigates a digitalisation strategy, Jack-Up Barge invests in connectivity networks and DEME introduces a new visualisation platform
Dutch shipping companies and vessel owners are reaping the benefits of investing in digitalisation, faster satellite communications and navigation technology. Shipowners are improving the efficiency of their maritime assets, reducing operating costs and minimising incidents by adopting advanced automation, software, data analytics, electronic navigation and VSAT communications.
Pan-European container multimodel group and shipowner Samskip has lowered its operational expenses and vessel downtime through its digitalisation investments. It has deployed planned maintenance systems, VSAT hardware and ECDIS on its fleet of almost 20 ships, says fleet director Erik Hofmeester.
He tells Maritime Digitalisation & Communications how adopting these technologies has improved asset management and minimised incidents across the fleet of container ships, reefers and general cargo vessels.
“We have integrated planned maintenance systems that have dashboards and digital applications,” he explains. “We are using procurement software to benchmark the market and to process competitive offers, electronic chart displays to get rid of paper charts, and have installed VSAT to offer internet on board our ships for business and crew communications.”
Netherlands-headquartered Samskip provides European combined transport services via shortsea, road, rail and inland waterway routes. Its high-frequency services connect destinations across Europe, the Baltic states, Russia and central Asia.
“We have improved decision making by changing data into information with the help of algorithms”
IT and digitalisation improve the efficiency of these services and the analysis of logistics data. “Digitalisation benefits are using more automation, improving benchmarking and safety,” says Mr Hofmeester. Automating data collation and transmission means Samskip can focus manpower on analysing information to enhance its operations.
“We have improved decision making by changing data into information with the help of algorithms,” he says. Samskip also monitors its logistics and vessel operations and receives alerts when performance is diminished. “We have integrated sets of parameters and have alarms when these are exceeded,” Mr Hofmeester says. It had to overcome challenges to gain these benefits. These included:
But the digitalisation strategy has been worthwhile for the Dutch shipping and logistics group. Mr Hofmeester says this strategy was conducted “to increase quality and safety, to be more effective with a small team and to make the work more interesting and fun.”
Samskip worked with class society DNV GL, software group SAP and bridge systems integrators Alphatron and Radio Holland to deploy cloud services, onboard IT and satellite communications.
Mr Hofmeester says it leases VSAT for its ships at around €1,100 (US$1,200) per vessel each month, which covers the terminal hardware, relevant software, the Ku-band signal and an L-band back-up.
VSAT improves crew telephony, email and online communications with internet available for applications such as WhatsApp. “It increases crew retention,” says Mr Hofmeester.
Samskip has invested in technology for paperless navigation and voyage planning with ECDIS on each ship, weather routeing services and remote support.
Dutch companies are leaders in offshore support using service vessels and dredgers. One of these, Jack-Up Barge Operations, owns nine jack-up vessels used to support offshore renewables, oil, gas and marine construction projects.
These provide a base for maintenance and installation work, and fixed accommodation on offshore projects. Jack-up units need reliable and fast satellite communications says Jack-Up Barge Operations procurement manager Patrick van ‘t Zelfde. “Quite uniquely, we can provide high-speed internet on board all our barges when we are on the job location,” he says.
To achieve this, IT systems on the jack-up barges have been refitted by Radio Holland. The latest was on JB-115. “Renewing the IT structure on board fits perfectly in the newly developed Jack-Up Barge connectivity concept,” says Mr van ‘t Zelfde. “The new IT structure enables and ensures safe and fast internet on board, which we can offer to our customers for a reasonable price.”
Radio Holland supplied the servers and computers and renewed the telephone exchange on JB-115. The IT and communications infrastructures are segmented so charterers have a separate and secure network from crew and barge operations.
Dredging group DEME introduced new visualisation platforms for its vessels to centralise onboard operations and reduce space for operating technology by up to 75%. It installed Alewijnse’s AIViVi visualisation system on trailing suction hopper dredgers to integrate the dredging process systems in one network.
This platform acts as a central hub on a dredger for distributing information on networked screens around the vessel.
DEME is replacing the computers, keyboard, video and mouse equipment on these dredgers with AIViVi to reduce cabling. AlViVi displays information from multiple ship’s systems on several screens placed around the vessel.
Alewijnse product manager Johan van Rikxoort says the AIViVi digitalised platform can be used on other vessels. “The platform results in maximum uptime and optimal operational safety,” he says. “By bringing together multiple systems in one environment, the maintenance and management becomes much easier and efficient.”
Other benefits are that the lifetime of the software is extended by the independence of the platform, updates are faster to test and roll back and the system is secure.
“An additional benefit is the platform takes up 75% less space through reduced requirements for cabling, computer hardware and cabinets,” says Mr van Rikxoort.
A group of 17 Dutch partners held autonomous operations trials in March 2019 as part of a joint industry project. SeaZip Offshore Services’ fast crew transport vessel SeaZip 3 was outfitted with collision avoidance technology and undertook sea trials 5 nautical miles off the coast of Den Helder.
The autonomous system for the Damen-designed Bureau Veritas-classed vessel was provided by Robosys Automation and connected to the autopilot and machinery control system.
SeaZip 3 performed the evasive manoeuvres safely in 11 scenarios, says Autonomous Shipping project leader and Netherlands Maritime Technology innovation director Marnix Krikke. SeaZip 3 interacted with two other vessels – Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz training vessel Octans and The Netherlands Coastguard emergency towage vessel Guardian.
“These scenarios are the first ever autonomous operations with seagoing vessels held in the North Sea,” says Mr Krikke. They were the outcome of research by Technical University of Delft, MARIN and TNO. MARIN first tested the scenarios in a simulator centre in Wageningen.
SeaZip Offshore Service managing partner Mark van der Star says this was the first step to carrying out fully autonomous tests. “Participating in this project has enhanced our knowledge in a wide range of fields and will help us grow further as a shipping company in the future,” he says.
Radio Holland and Orolia have developed a voyage data recorder (VDR) for inland waterways vessels. This is based on the Netwave VDR NW6000 series and registers all movements and communications on and around the inland vessels. It can be used for monitoring, measuring and improving vessel performance and enhancing safety. Radio Holland and Orolia also jointly developed the M-SecureSync system as their preferred navigation cyber security technology.
Dutch sector facts
The Dutch maritime technology sector consists of:
Source: Netherlands Maritime Technology trade association