The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in demand for bandwidth on offshore support vessels (OSVs) this year, and the sector is poised to see even greater shifts in connectivity demand with the uptake of digitalisation, according to experts at Riviera’s ‘The future of offshore vessel connectivity is here’ webinar
On the webinar panel, P&O Maritime Logistics head of IT Kris Vedat was joined by Inmarsat Maritime director for marketing and public relations Mark Warner.
The two experts discussed the drivers for rising connectivity demand from OSVs, including data analytics, crew welfare and real-time, shore-based video support, and critically assessed where operators could find productivity, operational and economic gains.
Topics covered included multi-band and multi-constellation connectivity, hybrid technology, why energy companies are calling for greater connectivity and how OSV owners can overcome technical, operational and commercial barriers to increasing communications capacity.
Mr Vedat said OSV operators are increasingly expected to provide more bandwidth for operational support, crew welfare and to meet charterer connectivity requirements and owners need to consider adopting a hybrid approach to connectivity involving satellite communications and 4G/5G mobile phone networks.
“We need to be more open minded – to embrace the latest technology and to think outside the box,” said Mr Vedat. He listed three key drivers for requiring terabytes of data from vessels in the future – operational data analytics, crew welfare and charterer requirements.
“Crew welfare is imperative and demand from charterers for their own bandwidth means they will always need their own communications platform,” said Mr Vedat.
“Data will accelerate and we will need to transfer this off our OSVs and relay information back to the vessels,” he added.
Mr Warner said OSV operators will increasingly use a hybrid connectivity ecosystem including Inmarsat’s Global Xpress high throughput satellites and terrestrial long-term evolution (LTE) networks. “The automated vessel is coming as is the need for lower latency,” he said. “There will be a need for terrestrial hybrid connectivity packages and an ecosystem of applications.”
He said there has been a considerable change in demand patterns from digitalisation, crew welfare requirements during the Covid-19 lockdown and energy company requirements. “There is a real shift in demand for digital solutions in the OSV sector,” said Mr Warner. “All OSV owners we canvased expect to adopt digitalisation and use sensors for fuel consumption monitoring by 2023,” he said.
Attendees were asked what more could be done to improve crew welfare. Replies included providing online media content, having separate bandwidth pipes for crew services, ensuring open connectivity for crew and allowing better internet connection for video. Attendees also suggested having more bandwidth and faster connectivity to give seafarers the creature comforts of home while being at sea and enabling them to bring their own mobile devices on board to use over the vessel’s connectivity.
For a full list of attendee poll results, please scroll down.
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On the webinar panel were: Inmarsat Maritime director for marketing and public relations Mark Warner and P&O Maritime Logistics head of IT Kris Vedat
What applications do you have currently deployed on board? (Multiple choice)
Navigation (weather routeing, fuel optimisation): 30%
Video conferencing: 15%
Fleet and vessel performance analytics: 27%
Safety and risk management: 24%
Crew welfare: 27%
Are you effectively analysing data collected on board the vessel?
1: Yes (full use of data): 23%
2: Significant use of data: 8%
3: Moderate use of data: 8%
4: Some data used: 46%
5: We really struggle: 15%
Has the rate of digitalisation in the OSV sector been accelerated due to Covid-19?
Demand for bandwidth is increasing; operators need to accept this and find a way to enable this
Strongly agree: 50%
Strongly disagree: 0%
Suppliers of VSAT services will need to innovate to keep up with demand, while current VSAT technology has limited bandwidth which will not be fit for purpose in the future
Agree – 87%
Disagree – 13%