Bureau Veritas’ Eva Peño explains how digitalisation, artificial intelligence and machine learning can improve safety and reduce voyage costs
Digitalisation helps ship masters improve navigation safety by providing useful information and decision support. These technologies will also help shipowners and managers reduce operating costs by advising on optimal routes.
Classification society Bureau Veritas global market leader for offshore support vessels and tugs Eva Peño thinks internet-of-things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will play increasingly important roles in vessel navigation to mitigate risk and reduce emissions and fuel costs.
“The shipping industry is undergoing a thrilling transformation towards digitalisation,” she explains. “New technologies, such as IoT, AI and machine learning, are gaining momentum by the day.”
"New technologies represent a turning point that offers enormous opportunities in terms of cost optimisation and emissions reduction"
Ms Peño’s position at Bureau Veritas involves helping clients to understand which new technologies will improve their operations, reduce fuel consumption, enhance offshore and maritime safety and deliver opex savings.
“These new technologies represent a turning point that offers enormous opportunities in terms of cost optimisation and emissions reduction for our clients, but at the same time confronts the industry with new challenges,” she says.
One of these is how to process the huge amounts of data generated from networks of sensors on ships, from navigation aids and meteorological information.
“Ship operators have a lot of data in their hands,” Ms Peño says. “Ships are loaded with sensors, and connectivity is improving by the day, so the time has come for a decision to be made about what this data will be used for.”
For navigation it can help improve safety by avoiding hazards, and lower fuel consumption through monitoring and better routeing.
“Data itself is worthless, however the transformation of data into useful information by means of advanced analytic tools combined with applying AI or machine learning solutions will definitely improve operational efficiency and reduce costs,” says Ms Peño.
She highlights applying advanced data analytics to ship performance, and monitoring machinery condition as examples of how owners can minimise costs.
“Why not take all this data to define a tailor-made maintenance plan based on the actual condition of the equipment instead of doing maintenance at fixed intervals, risking the maintenance being carried out too soon or too late, and the associated cost and unexpected downtime?” she asks.
AI and machine learning can be used to assist bridge teams. Ship masters and navigators need to make decisions based on the capability of the vessel, weather and current situation, operational requirements and the wishes of owners, superintendents and charters. They also need to cater for international, regional, flag state and port authority regulations.
“Masters face daily complex situations where critical decisions need to be taken in a heartbeat,” says Ms Peño. “They have to evaluate a significant amount of information and then make the right decision.”
Data analytics can reduce the amount of information masters need to consider, while computers can remove some of the manual tasks from ship officers.
“New technologies are an excellent way to provide the master with a decision support system to help them make the right decision in a timely manner,” says Ms Peño. “Thanks to their capacity to perform computing tasks extremely fast with a large amount of data, and even learn from this data by reprogramming themselves to be more efficient.”
“The responsibility of the decision, and even the action, can be transferred from the master to the computer”
These decision support systems can use onboard computer power, analytics hosted in a cloud service or in owners’ or shipmanagers’ shore bases. Developments can take the technology to new levels.
“The responsibility of the decision, and even the action, can be transferred from the master to the computer,” says Ms Peño. These technologies are being developed for autonomous shipping and remote tug applications. To support and assist yards and owners to enhance the autonomy of their ships, Bureau Veritas has published Guidelines for Autonomous Shipping.
A critical element to using digitalisation technologies for ship monitoring, master assistance and navigation information delivery is having cyber secure connectivity.
To assist owners in achieving this, Bureau Veritas introduced new notations Cyber Secure and Cyber Managed to ships that implement appropriate mitigation measures to reduce risks to an acceptable level.