As a smart city, Singapore is an ideal proving ground for DNV GL’s efforts to facilitate digital transformation
September 2018 saw the launch of DNV GL’s Singapore-based digital hub. DNV GL Digital Solutions regional manager for digital consulting and smart cities Mathias Steck spoke to Singapore Solutions about how the hub will help facilitate the digital transformation in the maritime sector and other areas.
The digital hub is intended to be both vertical and horizontal, Mr Steck said, explaining that as well as DNV GL’s digital solutions business area, it will also support the maritime, oil and gas, energy and business assurance areas. The team is made up of about 25 DNV GL employees, comprising subject-matter experts in areas such as maritime, oil and gas and energy, as well as data analysts, software developers and other back-end and front-end specialists, but this is set to grow to 50 in the next five years.
There are three main focus areas for the digital hub, Mr Steck explained. The first of these addresses using data analytics for more efficient operation of assets, minimising downtime and improving productivity. “We will do this for the assets in our industry verticals and even beyond that,” he said, explaining that DNV GL is looking at applying such methodologies to cities. “It’s all about data-driven infrastructure efficiency,” he said. One area this is being applied is in bunkering, with DNV GL analysing operational data to improve efficiency of bunker barge operations and bunkering activities by implementing better scheduling and routeing.
The second area is focused on cyber security from the perspectives of both operational technology and information technology. “Because we have so much more connectivity and data available, we also have increased risk,” said Mr Steck.
DNV GL’s purpose is to safeguard life, property and the environment, which has traditionally been thought of in physical terms, he said, adding that with increased use of data and connectivity, this mission has become a cyber-physical issue, with the possibility of serious damage to assets as a result of cyber attacks.
“Where we stand out compared to the competition is that we have strong operational technology expertise because we work so closely with assets,” he said. Mr Steck discussed navigation and communications systems as an area of focus for this. DNV GL have a pilot relating to ECDIS systems, which are vulnerable to spoofing attacks with false data that could push vessels off course or even lead to collisions, and how these can be safeguarded. As well as this, DNV GL carries out cyber security assessments of shipboard systems, identifying gaps and how they can be closed, as well as providing information security management systems consultancy services.
The third area is again data-led and relates to disaster mitigation, said Mr Steck, adding that while this relates to assets it also relates to people, in the wider sense. DNV GL has a pilot scheme for data-led disaster mitigation with the Philippines Red Cross, combining data from sources such geographic information systems and meteorological services with in-field feedback during incidents to visualise the impact of a disaster. This then assists responders to co-ordinate rescue efforts and services efficiently. This technology could have wide-reaching applications in future, said Mr Steck, noting it could be applied in areas such as ports that have assets that may be at risk during a disaster.
The smart city connects to the maritime sector through ports such as Singapore (credit: DNV GL)
Singapore is positioning itself as a leader in the global digital transformation with its Smart Nation initiative, which includes investing in the smart city, where information and communications technology is used to optimise asset and resource management. Mr Steck said “It’s the leading smart city in southeast Asia, and one of the leading smart cities in the world.”
The smart city is also an important area for DNV GL’s drive to support digitalisation, and there are a number of areas of co-operation between DNV GL and Singaporean authorities and institutions in this area. The smart city connects with the maritime sector through ports, explained Mr Steck. “A port is a highly sophisticated part of the city, which comes with a lot of the same problems.”
DNV GL’s work into optimising bunkering activities is an example of the intersection of maritime digitalisation and smart cities, he explained.
“So when I talk about infrastructure efficiency, that is of course something which also in a port is very important, because of all the moving parts they have there.”
MPA is working closely with DNV GL on research and development projects that span all of DNV GL’s areas of focus, added Mr Steck. “They all relate to how to optimise port, or close-to-port, operations by use of data [...] efficiency, security, quality, insight, they target all these aspects.”
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is another area of focus for DNV GL in Singapore. It supports several local initiatives, some in partnership with MPA, to unlock the potential of the technology and overcome its challenges. Separate to the digital hub, DNV GL established a Global Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in 2018, and is working with Sembcorp Marine, SIMTech and NAMIC to develop and certify laser-aided additive manufacturing (LAAM) technology to be used in fabricating large-scale structures for newbuild vessels in Singapore “We want to be at the forefront, creating standards and guidelines which support the industry to adopt technology,” said Mr Steck. “As we have created these in other areas, we also want to do this for additive manufacturing.”
Looking ahead, DNV GL’s two main areas of focus are to improve the quality of its existing services and introduce new services, underpinning these with high-quality data.
“The big ambition for us is to digitalise our existing services so that we can provide them more efficiently and potentially with higher quality, and with easier access for the clients,” said Mr Steck. DNV GL is pushing more of its services onto its open industry data platform Veracity, pushing more and more software solutions into the cloud and making them available on a software-as-a-service model.
It is also developing new services based on digitalisation and IoT technology to give better insight to clients. “One very interesting thing is unlocking the power of combining data,” said Mr Steck, noting that this is made challenging by issues of data ownership and access to data.
DNV GL see opportunities in combining confidential and publicly available data to unlock value, he explained, citing an example of a project with Norwegian paint manufacturer Jotun. By combining data from DNV GL about estimated arrival times of vessels with data in their own enterprise resource planning system about storage capacities and inventory at particular locations, they are able to proactively offer better scheduling of painting services to customers and optimise the supply chain to ensure paints and coatings are where they need to be. Another area is a project to create dynamic insurance premiums with a Norwegian insurer. This involves overlaying ship positions on areas of high risk, with premiums rising when sailing in high risk areas and falling once these areas have been left. “You get a better insurance product, tailored to exactly how you sail your ship,” said Mr Steck.
“These kinds of things are the most exciting for us – how do we combine things, how do we use these insights to create new value which before was not possible.
“Something we at DNV GL feel very strongly about is the requirement for data quality and maturity,” he said.
“We put a lot of emphasis on continuously developing new and better algorithms to assess and visualise the quality of data [...] Any decisions you make or insights we gain, the quality of those cannot be any better than the quality of data we throw in.”