Adoption of remote surveys and digital-based vessel classification will continue to increase as owners, operators and managers see the cost-saving benefits
Experts and attendees at Riviera Maritime Media’s Vessel optimisation: IoT and remote classification and surveying webinar expect remote surveys to continue after the global coronavirus pandemic is over.
This event, sponsored by Bureau Veritas, was held on 27 May during Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week.
On the panel were PSA Marine senior manager of fleet operations Kah Meng So, P&O Maritime Logistics head of IT Kris Vedat and Bureau Veritas digital solutions manager Vincent Joly.
They agreed Covid-19 had accelerated the implementation of digital solutions for vessel’s class surveys, changing these processes for the long term.
It was a sentiment webinar delegates also agreed with. When asked, 91% of the attendees said they thought requests for remote surveys will continue post pandemic.
Over the pandemic, the range of classifications and surveys carried out remotely has multiplied with several thousand completed, and new applications are being rapidly identified and deployed. Initial industry scepticism around the extent a surveyor can truly observe via a laptop or tablet has given way to a broad acceptance of remote surveys across maritime and offshore sectors.
Flag administrations have begun approving the use of remote technology for inspections providing more evidence that remote surveys have entered the maritime mainstream.
Mr Joly said remote class surveys benefit owners and classification societies. “They are available from anywhere, save on costs and improve safety and the carbon footprint,” he said.
Not all class surveys are fully remote or fully in person, as more are combining using data capture and mobile devices. “Assessments can be in real time,” said Mr Joly.
Some of the key challenges for remote surveys are connectivity, overcoming industry scepticism and training people on board and ashore to implement the surveys.
“Onboard preparation and change management are important. They are fundamental for remote and digital surveys,” said Mr Joly. “On the technical side, the biggest challenge is developing the connectivity.”
Webinar attendees agreed with Mr Joly on this one. When they were asked what the greatest challenge was when implementing remote surveys, 47% voted for connectivity, 21% for vessel condition, 16% classification societies, 11% crew and 5% flag states.
Bureau Veritas worked with PSA Marine to remotely classify two LNG-powered harbour tugs, PSA Aspen and PSA Oak, in Singapore.
Mr So said deck surveys, engine and machinery checks, wheelhouse and alarm checks, documentation, certification and fire-fighting equipment checks were carried out remotely.
“There are benefits, especially during the Covid pandemic,” said Mr So. “Any mobile device, tablet or phone can be linked for the remote survey.” These enable crew to move around tugs to implement the survey with class society assistance.
“Third parties are not on board, minimising contact with crew and real-time verification enables corrective actions,” Mr So added. “Remote surveys can reduce costs, cutting out travel and accommodation in ports.”
PSA was challenged at first from the connectivity on board, crew readiness and actual vessel conditions. It introduced more wireless routers to improve broadband connectivity around vessels and intrinsically safe devices for operation in hazardous areas on board.
“In low bandwidth areas we placed routers in strategic places in the engineroom and cargo area and the crew had pocket routers,” said Mr So.
PSA seafarers were at first reluctant to undertake these surveys. “Some were not tech savvy, so we needed training and rehearsals with class surveyors, and then we needed to equip them with mobile devices and battery packs,” said Mr So.
So far, PSA has only completed remote surveys on the two LNG-fuelled harbour tugs, but it intends to implement them on other vessels in the future.
P&O Maritime Logistics has worked with ABS for digital classification on its vessels. It has also implemented IoT technology for remote monitoring and health assessments.
“We get insight into the maintenance and can move into real-time modelling with IoT,” said Mr Vedat. “Through data analysis we get greater insight into vessel operations, safety and the health of our assets. We have transparency we have not had before.”
The tug and offshore support vessel owner worked with Baker Hughes to remotely monitor and manage engine lubricant oil to reduce costs. “By moving the lube oil maintenance to a condition-based model, vessels are saving US$22,000 per annum on lube oil,” said Mr Vedat.
“Moving to a predictive maintenance model allows us to identify catastrophic failures before they happen, such as a main engine failure, which can cost up to US$500,000 to replace. We can avoid costly downtime through maintenance.”
Through the Vitalyx lube oil application, P&O monitors oil lifecycle performance, water dilution, soot, glycol, fuel dilution, viscosity, saltwater dilution, metallic particles, temperature, density and dielectric.
Other vessel owners are considering implementing class remote surveys. When attendees were asked how ready they were to implement a remote survey, 56% said they were considering it, 24% thought they were ready and 20% said they had not considered them.
In another poll, 70% of the delegates agreed a remote survey is no substitute for a physical visit, 30% disagreed.
Around 70% of delegates would want IMO, International Association of Classification Societies, flag states and classification societies to promote remote surveys for ships and speed-up harmonised regulations on its scope of application, 30% said No, this is not work, they need to promote or prioritise.