IoT services enable passenger ship operators and manufacturers to monitor onboard systems for condition-based maintenance and to optimise vessel performance
New online platforms were introduced during Q2 and Q3 this year for ship performance optimisation and machinery condition monitoring that could help passenger vessel operators reduce operating costs.
Monitoring key performance indicators in real-time on cruise ships and ferries enables owners to identify areas for improvement, whether that is upgrading onboard systems or retraining crew. Monitoring onboard machinery also helps identify issues and find solutions before they become faults or failures.
These platforms use internet-of-things (IoT) technology and offer data storage and analytics for information delivery. They also host applications ship operators use to manage fuel consumption, voyage and drydocking planning, predictive analysis, condition-based maintenance and crew management.
To achieve this, owners and suppliers need dedicated, low-cost two-way connectivity for data transmissions, remote diagnostics and interventions. This can be routed either through VSAT satellite communications or coastal 3G/4G and any 5G networks available when ships are in range.
Kongsberg has developed its Kognifai online ecosystem of digitalisation applications for vessel owners. In Q2 2019, Kongsberg formed two partnerships to further advance Kognifai to a wider user-base and added more applications to save owners money.
It merged Kognifai with DNV GL’s Veracity platform, which also hosts maritime digitalisation applications, to create a common platform for digital services. Maindeck’s cloud-based drydocking software was also made available on Veracity. This helps shipping companies to manage drydock projects from planning to execution. Another addition was SICK Sensor Intelligence, which combines sensor technology with automatic identification system (AIS) data and other relevant sources for maintenance and performance information.
The second partnership involved hosting Kognifai applications on a new VSAT-enabled IoT platform provided by KVH Industries. Kongsberg’s Vessel Insight solution was the first application introduced on KVH Watch, which offers dedicated broadband for transferring performance and condition data for owners and equipment manufacturers.
Kongsberg Digital senior vice president for maritime digital solutions Vigleik Takle says VSAT connectivity, delivered in this case by KVH’s Ku-band and C-band network, is required for both daily monitoring and rapid remote support.
“KVH provides Vessel Insight users with connectivity options for end-to-end solutions that deliver real-time monitoring and intervention benefits of machine-to-machine IoT,” he says.
“It provides dedicated IoT connectivity with tight integration for monitoring and options for full video bandwidth. In periods of remote support it will provide higher performance and reliability,” Mr Takle says.
KVH developed its IoT connectivity after receiving feedback from manufacturers and by adapting its own real-time equipment monitoring and diagnostics capabilities, says KVH executive vice president for mobility connectivity Mark Woodhead.
He explains to Passenger Ship Technology, “we identified that IoT will be very important for shipping, and we saw the main requirements for data from ships is from the manufacturer side.”
Higher amounts of data need to be transferred, analysed and integrated into manufacturers’ own analytics as increasing numbers of sensors are installed on engines, generators, thrusters, boilers, waste management and pumps.
“The costs for manufacturers to organise their own connectivity is cost-prohibitive,therefore, we provide the connectivity for them”
Connectivity can be part-funded on cruise ships and ferries by passengers, but it is costly to manufacturers, or subject to negotiation between suppliers and shipowners. KVH’s IoT service overcomes these challenges.
“KVH Watch is a seamless and low-entry level model for engine manufacturers that have data requirements and equipment with sensors on vessels,” says Mr Woodhead. “The costs for manufacturers to organise their own connectivity is cost-prohibitive. Therefore, we provide the connectivity for them.”
KVH Watch provides real-time data transmissions and bandwidth for remote diagnostics and problem-solving, and condition-based maintenance. It is available with two modes: Watch Flow for daily data delivery and Watch Intervention for on-demand high-speed sessions for shore support and remote equipment access.
“Watch Flow is for 24/7, 365 days-a-year machine-to-machine data delivery with dedicated ship-to-shore bandwidth from a voyage data recorder or manufacturers’ own devices to the manufacturers’ own platform,” says Mr Woodhead.
“Watch Intervention allows manufacturers to use video intervention, voice calls and high-speed bandwidth for remote diagnostics of equipment and troubleshooting.”
KVH Watch service comes with a TracPhone V7-HTS antenna that connects with the new generation of high-throughput satellites with data speeds of 10 Mbps on the downlink and 3 Mbps upwards using Ku-band.
In June, Kongsberg also added maritime statistics provider Marine Benchmark, bunker online portal BunkerEx, weather and wave information provider Meteomatics, and SteelCorr’s digital paint reporting application on Kognifai.
Inmarsat provides digitalisation solutions to shipping through its Fleet Data IoT service and Fleet Xpress connectivity, which is a combination of Ka-band Global Xpress (GX) services and L-band as a backup.
Because of growing demand for Fleet Xpress, including passenger ship connectivity, Inmarsat is investing in six new GX satellites and two payloads on elliptical orbit satellites over the next four years, explains Inmarsat Maritime president Ronald Spithout. “We will be going from four satellites to 12 in four years,” he tells PST.
“We need to add satellites to increase throughput and flexibility,” Mr Spithout continues. “We are making fully connected vessels a reality for owners’ cost savings, smart maintenance, ship-shore connectivity, enterprise resource planning software and for sharing data.”
This expenditure is in response to ship operators requesting data packages of more than 1 terabyte (TB) per month per vessel for all these requirements, which are on top of passenger connectivity needs. “This confirms connected vessels are coming into play with crew and business applications driving demand,” says Mr Spithout. “Some vessels need 1 TB per month.”
Inmarsat will launch new GX satellites; the first (GX5) is scheduled for launch in Q4 this year, followed by two (GX6 and GX7) as part of the Inmarsat-6 constellation in 2020-2021.
In June, Airbus Defence & Space won a contract to manufacture three Onesat satellites – GX7, GX8 and GX9 – with the first due to be launched into geostationary orbit in H1 2023. In July, Inmarsat announced that two GX payloads (GX10a and GX10b) would be loaded on to Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission satellites and launched into a highly elliptical orbit.
“Connectivity in the Arctic region for the maritime industry is growing in importance as ferries and cruise ships transit new high-value waterways,” says Mr Spithout.
Marlink has introduced digitalisation solutions for remote monitoring and diagnostics of onboard IT systems. It unveiled ITLink in June to automate IT operations and enable intervention over its Sealink Ku-band VSAT coverage.
ITLink automatically installs updates on onboard computers using the XChange centralised communications management unit. Managers can access an IT-specific online dashboard that continuously updates them with computer and server status information. ITLink ensures IT is compliant with existing and upcoming regulations from IMO concerning cyber security on ships.
Speedcast International will deliver cloud-based services to shipping after it achieved advanced consulting partner status in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner network. This opens cloud-based services, hosted on AWS, to passenger shipping connected using Speedcast VSAT and to onshore data and operating centres.
Speedcast can also provide data and voice connectivity over wide area networks (WANs) after partnering with wireless connectivity leader XipLink. Speedcast will integrate cellular backhaul solutions for long-term evolution (LTE) mobile phone networks using its Sigma Gateway network management devices on ships.
Speedcast is providing VSAT and WAN connectivity to a new Color Line ship. Color Carrier, which operates between Oslo, Norway, and Kiel, Germany, has Ku-band service and Iridium Certus L-band for connectivity to satellites. It has dual-tracking LTE and multiple omni-directional LTE antennas to increase the range of connection to coastal 4G networks. All links are managed by Speedcast’s network operations team for seamless connectivity.
"We depend on connectivity for ship tracking, safety, security and guest experience on all of our routes”
Color Line chief technology officer Anders Angell-Olsen says this combination “enables us to use the best available link at any given location in our sailing route to cover our operational needs”.
He says the 4G/LTE link was both efficient and reliable. “This is an important feature of our onboard communications system, since we depend on connectivity for ship tracking, safety, security and guest experience on all of our routes,” he explains.
More passenger ships are using radio technology for digitalisation connectivity in the Baltic Sea. Nowhere Networks is building a radio-link network across the region where 15M passengers a year pass as an alternative to VSAT and coastal 4G communications.
This technology provides low-latency communications for passengers with 100-times higher capacity than satellite links, according to Nowhere Networks.
Rederi AB Eckerö has used the Nowhere Networks radio-link technology for a year on the line between Grisslehamn, Sweden, and Mariehamn, Finland and decided to expand the network with coverage from Stockholm, Sweden, and from Visby in Gotland to Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia.
“This is just the beginning,” says Nowhere Networks chief executive Asbjörn Frydenlund. “By the end of the year we will cover traffic to Turku, Riga and Oskarshamn. At the current rate, we will have digitalised the entire Baltic Sea by the end of 2020.” He expects ships and their passengers will then “be fully connected at the same speed and with the same stability as on the mainland.”
Nowhere Networks uses heavy-duty antennas on land and on ships to achieve connectivity at long distances and high capacity. It combines moving and stabilised antennas on ships with cloud-based software that constantly monitors, adjusts and ensures vessels get the best possible connection. The software builds up its intelligence on ship operations and requirements over time.
Eckerö provides passenger and car ferry services on the Åland Sea with Eckerö Linjen; the Gulf of Finland under Eckerö Line cruises; and between Stockholm and Mariehamn as Birka Cruises. It also handles shipments for the export industry between Finland, Sweden and the continent with Eckerö Shipping. The group has six ships in its fleet.
Tests prove remote engineroom control is practical
Norwegian ferry operator Fjord1 is working with the Norwegian Maritime Authority, class society DNV GL and automation systems vendor Høglund to test remote machinery operations.
Under the Remote Operation of Machinery and Automation Systems (ROMAS) project these partners tested shore-based engine and automation control on Fjord 1’s Fannefjord, which operates between Molde and Vestnes.
Chief engineers remotely operated the propulsion and auxiliary machinery systems of a single ship using redundant 4G ship-shore communications from two separate providers.
Tests were completed during Q1 2019 with the test scope covering normal operations, abnormal operational cases, failure scenarios and functional tests.
The ROMAS project will continue to the end of 2019. Its results will guide future operations and product development for remote-ready integrated automation systems. The Norwegian Maritime Authority will use the results to develop regulations and DNV GL will develop applicable rules and approvals.
In British Columbia, Canada, BC Ferries is installing an electronic logbook as a fleetwide standard solution. It is using Napa Logbook across its fleet after trials on several ships since 2016. It started with e-logbook tests on Coastal Celebration and Northern Expedition in 2016, followed by installation on three of BC Ferries’ Salish-class ships during 2017. Installations have continued during 2019 and Napa Logbook will be used on more than 20 BC Ferries ships by the end of 2020.
Genting completes VSAT deployment on Asian ships
Genting Cruise Lines’ Dream Cruises has deployed SES Networks’ VSAT connectivity on two of its fleet of Asian luxury cruise ships. A third will be retrofitted with satellite communications technology in Q3 2019.
SES’ Signature Cruise solution was installed on World Dream in 2017 and 2019-launched Explorer Dream to transform connectivity for passengers and crew. This VSAT technology will be introduced on Genting Dream in September this year.
Around 2,000 passengers on Explorer Dream will access internet services, social media, video applications and e-commerce solutions using shipboard wifi and vessel VSAT.
Dream Cruises president Thatcher Brown explains why cruise ships need fast broadband and high bandwidth. “Today’s cruise passengers demand excellent connectivity even when they are travelling on the high seas,” he says. “We partnered with SES Networks because of its high-speed capability to deliver a terrestrial broadband-like internet experience in some of the most challenging conditions.”
SES’ technology combines O3b’s medium earth orbit satellite network with its geostationary constellation. Genting’s guests can share images and video in real-time, use social media and access online computer gaming over VSAT.