Tanker operator improves navigation safety and cuts fuel costs with Wärtsilä Voyage’s FOS digital package
Safer navigation, reduced crew workload and improved transparency were key reasons tanker operator Zeaborn Ship Management introduced Wärtsilä Voyage’s Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) on its managed fleet.
Zeaborn is upgrading its 12-strong managed product tanker fleet with the FOS digital navigation package. It already uses digital applications for operations, including remote monitoring, lubricants purchasing and reporting its vessels’ hazardous materials inventories. But it needed to implement more for safer and smarter navigation.
“Digitalisation must support our strategy and overarching business goals,” says Zeaborn Tankers managing director Matthias Ritters. “The main things you look for as a ship manager are to improve safety, increase efficiency and reduce costs while managing vessels according to owners’ performance and quality expectations.”
Improving operational transparency and sharing data with other organisations involved in tanker operations also brings benefits.
“If voyage data is shared with other stakeholders, we see big potential for further efficiencies and for safety,” says Mr Ritters.
Navigation is at the core of FOS. It is a connected ECDIS, integrating voyage planning functions into the mandatory electronic chart system and enabling a ship-to-shore link from the system.
FOS is a versatile tool, particularly when combined with data from other ship systems and external sources. Its dedicated modules enable a range of functions including route optimisation, fuel optimisation, energy efficiency reporting and charterparty compliance monitoring.
For Zeaborn, the navigational benefits are the most important. Automated route planning is one illustration. Manually charting the waypoints and deviations for multiple port calls can take a navigation officer up to five hours, on top of a daily eight-hour watch at sea or a gruelling 12-hour shift at port.
Automatic plotting can reduce this to less than half an hour, dramatically reducing fatigue among bridge officers and cutting the risk of human error in navigation.
Another element of the FOS package welcomed by Zeaborn is the BridgeMate tablet, an independently backed-up ECDIS that can be used anywhere on the vessel, including on the bridge wings. This gives officers full visibility of where the ship is, where it is heading and provides redundancy if bridge systems or power should fail.
Zeaborn Ship Management fleet navigation officer Torsten Iborg explains the importance of BridgeMate from an operational perspective.
“As a captain, I want to see what the ship is doing,” he says. “When I manoeuvre from the wings I have only my eyes and instruments showing revolution and rudder angle.”
BridgeMate gives him access to information from the ECDIS including rate of turn, speed from the bow, speed from the stern and movement of the vessel. “This makes manoeuvring in port much easier, and much easier to plan,” says Capt Iborg.
This additional information is becoming more important as energy companies increasingly focus on navigational safety equipment, specifying the vessels they charter must have rate-of-turn indicators on the wings.
BridgeMate satisfies this requirement as it provides even more reassurance. For example, if a vessel comes under pirate attack, such as in the Gulf of Guinea and southeast Asia, crew can retreat to the safety of their citadel and can follow the route of the vessel and where its heading.
Another key advantage of the FOS digital navigation package to Zeaborn is the real-time ship-to-shore connection and the extra visibility this gives about what is happening on the vessel.
“We have very good people on our vessels, but it is very difficult if you only see on AIS where the vessels are and what they are doing,” says Capt Iborg.
“FOS gives us the opportunity to look a little bit deeper. We can check the voyage plan and the weather and increase the safety of the vessel,” he continues.
“When there is an alarm on board, I see the alarm as well. If the vessel crosses a safety contour, for example, there is an alarm created in the ECDIS and I can see what is happening on board and how they deal with the situation.”
Remote visibility will also allow Zeaborn to be more flexible about its approach to both navigational auditing and training. Navigational audits are an essential practice for ensuring safe procedures are kept and equipment is in good working order.
Traditionally, the audits have been limited by when auditors from the shipmanager or third parties can get aboard. With the installation of FOS comes the ability for remote auditors to review navigational information to see how the vessel responded in a particular situation. This functionality also increases the options open to the navigation team.
Vessel optimisation data is available to third parties through a portal Zeaborn has set up. Mr Ritters explains this portal continues to be developed as customer needs evolve, with new features added. He sees the potential to incorporate navigational data from FOS into the portal.
“When we are looking into new tools, these are features we would expect to see,” says Mr Ritters. “Once we feel confident with the tool and the functionality, then we will engage with our customers and see what can be shared and what information is relevant for them.”
Sharing data across the fleet is also important for Zeaborn’s managers to monitor and optimise energy efficiency on vessels.
“If you have access to better data, you can both execute voyages more energy efficiently and benchmark how the voyage has performed to learn how to improve efficiency,” says Mr Ritters.
“We already have systems in place to monitor fuel and energy efficiency, so a next step would be to decide whether to link the systems or use additional functions on the energy efficiency side of the Wärtsilä solution.”
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