Maersk Tankers has renewed the IT networks on most of its fleet of more than 100 ships to ensure they can operate as remote offices. The Danish shipowner has enhanced the IT and communications infrastructure on tankers to optimise business processes and reduce operating costs.
It began this process in August 2016 with installations completed on 75 ships at the beginning of 2017. It expects all of the tanker installations to be completed during the early part of the first quarter of this year. The ICT infrastructure is being upgraded to enable Maersk Tankers to maximise the efficiency of its ships by using all the available onboard IT resources. The enhanced ICT should enable seamless integration between the crew on board the tankers and the shore-based staff.
To achieve this, Maersk Tankers worked with Sweden-based Sea IT System under a four-year strategic ICT contract. Sea IT upgrades the tanker ICT infrastructure by installing new BlueCore systems. This optimises business processes, maximises the onboard IT resources and links these systems to shore infrastructure using the ship’s satellite communications, which needs to be a form of VSAT. Once the installations are completed, Sea IT will provide ongoing IT support.
BlueCore has been customised to fit Maersk Tankers’ global business operations and high security standards. It integrates onboard processes, the crew on the tankers and the office infrastructure. It has enabled Maersk Tankers to regard its ships as remote offices, said Maersk Tankers vessel IT manager Henning Madsen. “The vessel IT project has been a great success to date,” he said.
Maersk Tankers can integrate and structure all programs from various departments using BlueCore. It assimilates data from technical and operations, chartering, health and safety, environment and quality and human resources departments. It also combines data from contractor equipment for fuel consumption and navigation chart updates.
Mr Madsen added: “Besides the installations, Sea IT will serve as a second line support in close collaboration with our own support team in Manila, the Philippines. Sea IT carries key components for hardware and software and provides emergency support all year round to us around the globe.”
Sea IT chief executive Kristian Ryberg said some of the challenges with the installation process were due to the global reach of the tanker fleet. “It is a challenge that many suppliers struggle with,” he said. “But we build, test and verify all equipment at our headquarters, and only after that do we ship out the products along with a specially trained technician to install them on board,” he said.
Mr Ryberg added: “We also provide high-end project and installation management services to tanker owners to secure the delivery and execution of the project plan.” Sea IT has also installed ICT solutions on Alba Tankers Aalborg’s ships. It is deploying BlueConnect, BlueSky, BlueStar, BlueCloud and BlueCore services to Alba. This includes BlueCore on the tankers and BlueCloud in the shore offices, so they can link to the ships.
“This is set up to perform automatic backups on a daily basis,” said Mr Ryberg. “It allows all data stored on the ships to be accessible through a direct virtual private network connection from the office,” he said. One of Alba’s tankers, Atlantic, is also being equipped with BlueConnect, a virtualised software which provides functionality such as e-mail, spam management, file transfers, VSAT beam switching, a firewall and crew login.
BlueStar provides fast file transfers and internet speeds of up to 50 Mbps. It automatically switches to faster networks such as global mobile phone networks. BlueSky is a software-based, virtual switchboard solution. It has the same features and functionalities as a physical switchboard, but without any dedicated switchboard device or space on the vessel.