ABS has launched its Guidance Notes on Smart Function Implementation, intended to provide shipowners a goal-based framework to enable data-driven decision-making based on smart technology.
Speaking to Maritime Digitalisation & Communications on the sidelines of the Seatrade Maritime Middle East conference in Dubai, ABS’ senior vice president for engineering and technology Derek Novak explained the rationale behind the guidance notes. “The way it works is you set a goal – for example, you may want to increase survey intervals, or reduce expenses on tank entries, or if you’re interested in reduced manning you may want to look down the autonomy path.
“It allows you to break the technology into smaller bite-size pieces and apply it in a structured framework.”
Currently ABS is seeing a lot of interest in smart technology from the offshore sector, vendors and some larger marine clients. FPSO owners have expressed particular interest, as have owners of jack-up rigs on the offshore side.
“I think the big production unit owners – the drilling specialists, some of the major shipowners, tanker fleets and container ship fleets – are where you’ll see the biggest advantages right off the bat,” said Mr Novak, adding “We’re talking to a major LNG owner right now about trying to extend their drydocking and tank inspection intervals by using smart technology.”
Using LNG as an example, he explained the benefits that smart technology could have for owners. “Any time you have to open up the LNG tanks it’s an expensive operation, it takes time and costs a lot of money.
“These tanks in a lot of cases are very well maintained, they’re in good shape, and we’re inspecting them because the prescriptive requirements say you have to.
“We want to shift classification from this prescriptive base model to what we call a condition-based class model,” he said. As an example, smart technology such as sensors and condition monitoring could make it possible to understand the complete condition of an LNG tank and only carry out a full inspection and survey when it actually needs to be surveyed, he explained.
Following the release of the framework guidance notes, ABS is aiming to release smart notations as the next step in its Smart Series in Q1 2019. These will have a particular focus on structural and machinery health, and will also outline requirements for vendor equipment.
Further down the line it could even become possible to use sensor data to automate processes such as applying notations, said Mr Novak. Key to this smart functionality is data quality. Processes for how data is validated and verified will be defined in Q1 2019 and ABS is currently trialling equipment and processes to carry out these checks. An effective cyber security framework will also be important, as with a greater reliance on data being transmitted ship-to-shore barriers to prevent malicious cyber attacks must be in place. “At ABS we’re structuring ourselves to be able to handle that load for the future,” he added.
Smart technology will also be important for achieving sustainability goals, said Mr Novak.
“So many people are focusing on 2020 they forget that a ship delivered today is going to be in operation in 2030, and that’s the next goal IMO has set for reduced greenhouse gases.”
“We need to start understanding exactly where our carbon footprint is, how we’re doing with emissions today, and to be able to put in place this framework and collect this information now is absolutely critical for us to have those solutions to be able to comply with these requirements as we move to 2030 and 2050.”