Owners and managers of tanker fleets are increasingly turning to VSAT and digitalisation to monitor onboard systems and reduce fuel costs
Thome Group currently uses its satellite communications for remote monitoring of ship performance and equipment condition, and for advising crew on improving operations.
It is installing VSAT across its managed fleet of 70 chemical carriers, 17 Aframax, 13 product tankers and seven VLCCs. This it expects will enhance its for ship monitoring, navigation and predictive maintenance, among others.
Discussing the benefits of VSAT, Thome Group chief executive Olav Nortun says: “We are getting more information, such as voyage time, time in port and efficiency, and total performance of the vessels.”
The company’s managers are able to provide information to crew on fuel use, ballast water management and other waste management issues, to ensure they remain on the correct side of the regulatory divide. Explains Mr Nortun: “[The process is automated] so when ships are close to port or a coastline they will get information on regulatory requirements for that country or region.”
Thome also uses digitalisation to improve safety says Mr Nortun: “We track incidents, identify trends of high frequency and share this information across the fleet.” This information is also used for crew training.
Since installing its VSAT systems, tanker monitoring frequency has also increased: “We want up-to-date information, say every 15 seconds, on fuel consumption and vessel speed, which is much more accurate for quicker decisions than getting noon reports,” says Mr Nortun.
He continues: “Ships are part of logistics chains and VSAT means we are closer to our tankers. We can plan operations based on ship and weather conditions and expected port calls.”
Thome also uses VSAT to test digital techniques that benefit owners in terms of reduced costs or time. For example, “e-certification reduces onboard workloads by moving work ashore,” says Mr Nortun.
However, data sharing and management, e-documentation and crew internet connectivity require more VSAT bandwidth, which can be expensive. Therefore, the next stage for Thome is to test technology that increases data and voice communications when tankers are close to ports. “No matter what bandwidth package we get, we want to increase bandwidth when we are close to shore,” says Mr Nortun.
Ionic Shipping uses 3G and 4G terrestrial mobile phone networks when its tankers are close to shore to improve bandwidth when vessels are in range. For times when tankers are out of range, Ionic has installed a mixture of Inmarsat Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband and Ku-band VSAT.
These communications packages are managed by Marpoint’s Evo2 platform across the fleet. Seafarers can link to these communications systems with their own mobile devices, using wifi in the accommodation blocks on Ionic’s tankers.
Evo2 co-ordinates connectivity on the ships with a universal platform for Ionic’s business and crew operations, according to Ionic IT manager Yiannis Tsolakis. “We can run and control all our business applications on board over it, with very flexible monitoring and management tools,” he explains, adding, “Our crew can talk to their families at very low rates compared to traditional FleetBroadband.”
Euronav invests in e-learning
Euronav Ship Management Hellas is now using SQLearn’s e-learning courses and system for training crew on 52 vessels. It has installed SQLearn’s Dolphin library of electronic remote learning courses on these ships. Dolphin is a web-based e-learning system with STCW courses that cover national, international and flag requirements.
These help Euronav provide crew with specialised training, says Euronav Ship Management Hellas fleet personnel manager Michail Malliaros. “Courses add to our ability to provide appropriate training to our staff and to operate in accordance with the highest standards of safety,” he says.