Vessel managers explain their strategies for implementing digitalisation and investing in ship, engine and fleet optimisation
Offshore vessel managers are investing heavily in internet-of-things (IoT), VSAT connectivity, smart sensors and, in some cases, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to monitor onboard systems and derive maximum value from operational data.
During Riviera’s Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week (3-5 March 2021) shipmanagers explained how they are using vessel data to improve profitability at a time when markets are being undermined by low utilisation and oversupply.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) head of data governance and analytics Frank Paleokrassas explained the group’s strategy behind its investments in digitalisation and optimisation. BSM manages 45 OSVs as part of a large portfolio of about 420 merchant ships of all types and sizes.
Mr Paleokrassas described how, with different vessel types and scale, BSM can balance these considerations to unlock significant fuel savings and reduce emissions.
He said BSM saved US$5M in 2020 just from managing hull maintenance, auxiliary engine utilisation and cylinder oil consumption and noted: “There is scope for a lot more.”
The tools currently used by BSM include digital twin benchmarking, automatic alert systems, predictive hull inspection recommendations, emissions reporting, performance analysis and prescriptive engine fault diagnostics.
Much of this could come from using data telemetry to remotely monitor onboard system performance. “We have 50 ships with telemetry integrated with our enterprise resource planning tools,” said Mr Paleokrassas.
He expects more savings will come from using information for voyage optimisation and weather routeing and improving the performance of engines and propulsion.
“We are already looking at two- and four-stroke engines and all types of fuel,” he explained. “We are moving into prescriptive analytics as part of our joint venture with Navidium.”
Navidium provides telemetry-powered voyage optimisation and performance management solutions to owners and managers.
“There is a goldmine of data on vessels”
Ships in BSM’s fleet are benchmarked for voyage, hull and propeller performance and operation of main engines and auxiliaries; BSM also monitors lubricant oil consumption and condition. It uses a traffic-light system to identify underperforming vessels and those making the most energy savings.
“We are implementing real-time data streams and focusing on having edge computing and analytics on board our ships,” said Mr Paleokrassas.
Thome Group technical manager Rajiv Malhotra spoke about the benefits of engine performance monitoring and analysis. He said the main focus for the company was ensuring there was sufficient engine availability and reliability on managed ships. Thome technically manages more than 200 ships for owners worldwide.
Engines should be monitored “to minimise downtime, for energy efficiency and emissions control” said Mr Malhotra. Monitoring can also be used to prove compliance with forthcoming environmental regulations.
He went on to explain the importance of using accurate data to achieve these objectives. To improve operational data, shipmanagers can use validation tools, manual screening in the office, and train crew and vessel managers.
Installing measuring equipment such as torsion, energy and flow meters, in-line sensors and automatic data loggers minimises human intervention in data collation.
Thome also conducts data processing and analysis to monitor vessel and onboard system performance. It conducts trend plotting and analysis and gets alerts for outlying parameters said Mr Malhotra. “We do comparisons between similar vessels with the same engine configurations and seek guidance on rectifying any abnormal conditions,” he explained.
Thome follows key performance indicators from periodic and voyage reports and uses daily information covering fuel consumption, temperature of exhaust gases and under-piston spaces, electrical loads and lubricant oil usage.
FML Ship Management director and general manager Sunil Kapoor said monitoring vessel speed and fuel consumption ensures vessel operators can keep to their commercial, contractual and efficiency requirements. While ship operators can avoid breakdowns by detecting potential problems and rectifying issues, they can also reduce emissions, he said.
FML has developed a portal for 24/7 vessel performance monitoring. It combines data from the ship and weather information. “We can monitor and compare performance with sister ships or vessels of similar design,” said Mr Kapoor.
He provided case studies demonstrating how these information sources enable FML to detect operational issues, under-performance and ways to optimise trim to improve efficiency.
Nautilus Labs senior director for strategy and insights Ross Millard noted different stakeholders have different interests when it comes to vessels and their data; these include owners, technical and commercial managers and charterers.
“Owners control the data, but how do they use the data and share it with other stakeholders?” he asked.
Mr Millard thinks the industry should find ways to better share information across multiple parties, as this will be increasingly required for emissions reporting.
“We need some type of standard if we are to run efficiently, as there will be emissions pressures and others will get involved,” said Mr Millard.
“As the industry moves forward, there will be incentives to reduce emissions,” he said, adding that there needs to be a common structure for owners, charterers and managers to “align their goals with the realities of the industry”.
“Collecting high-quality ship data with reliable sensors will open up new ways to optimise and extend the lifecycle of the vessel”
Aquametro Oil & Marine international sales manager Thomson John presented the company’s range of onboard sensors and meters, including its Controil flowmeters for measuring the actual fuel consumption of engines, power meters and sensors for monitoring and analysing recorded information for fuel, power and other engine parameters.
Aquametro also provides Viscomaster for fuel viscosity measurement and Homogenizer for fuel treatment to improve fuel combustion.
“The use of high-quality sensors, along with real-time monitoring and analysis strategies, will provide an excellent opportunity to improve the efficiency and safety of vessels and related equipment,” said Mr John.
“Collecting high-quality ship data with reliable sensors will open up new ways to optimise and extend the lifecycle of the vessel according to the highest standards of operation,” he added.
Propulsion Analytics engine performance manager Sokratis Demesoukas said sensors and information from bridge systems can be analysed with weather information to evaluate vessel performance in different conditions. “All data should be collected with high frequency, perhaps every five minutes,” he said.
“Data can come from the navigation signal, such as speed over water, position and rudder angle, and from engine revolutions, power management and fuel consumption, with weather data coming from sensors on vessels,” he said. This data is then uploaded to a cloud-based database for analysis.
GreenSteam chief executive Simon Whitford said more shipping companies are using this type of connectivity for remote monitoring and data transfers for cloud-based or onshore analytics.
“There is a goldmine of data on vessels,” he said. “There is value to be exploited and insights from the data and we are still just scratching the surface of what is possible.”