More and more strategic partnerships are being established to take advantage of the possibilities offered by digitisation, as Paul Fanning discovers
The adoption of digitisation by original equipment manufacturers and shipowners alike is continuing apace with the advent of a range of acquisitions and agreements. One of the most notable took place towards the end of last year when Wärtsilä acquired Eniram (see page XX), but the trend has continued with a new collaboration between Switzerland-headquartered Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) and Propulsion Analytics of Greece.
This, WinGD claims, represents “a decisive step towards a future where the acquisition and evaluation of real-time propulsion operating data will play a crucial role in both engine operation and onboard support.”
Signed on 16 December 2016, the agreement with the ship performance monitoring specialist calls for the joint development of an advanced diagnostics system for all WinGD two-stroke diesel and dual-fuel engines.
In WinGD’s view, this represents a major step towards digitisation in the shipping sector. The objective of the system to be developed is to provide shipowners and operators with digital technologies that will enhance both operational efficiency and crew decision-making processes related to the main engine.
The system will acquire and analyse data on the performance and condition of the engine and its sub-components in real-time and so provide live troubleshooting and diagnostics advice to the crew. In addition, it will be capable of connecting to shore-based stakeholders, as required. In this way, the system completes and enhances ship digitisation by providing a two-stroke engine performance optimiser and diagnostics system.
The proposed system will enable the ship operator to optimise engine performance in all its aspects – fuel consumption, power, emissions, etc – as well as intelligently diagnosing the engine status, by means of performance information and the behaviour of sub-systems and components. This will enable the prediction and diagnosis of component malfunction and permit the extension of maintenance intervals (condition-based maintenance).
In addition, operators will be able to troubleshoot abnormalities by providing the crew and the shipping company with more detailed information about which key components are affected and what steps need to be taken to fix the malfunction.
The system will also enable more integrated planning and online spare parts purchasing, as well as enabling companies to train their staff by providing virtual and interactive tuition.
Engine data can now be communicated ashore to the shipowner and to other interested parties, such as service providers. It is also possible to store data in a secured environment, enabling fleet comparisons.
All these capabilities will be implemented into a user-friendly onboard system comprising the most competitive, state-of-the-art hardware, software and data analytics techniques.
Based on needs identified by WinGD in consultation with engine end users, Propulsion Analytics will develop software solutions for processing and evaluating data gathered from on-engine sensors. The data will be processed in a digital controlling, monitoring and diagnostics system.
The complete system is also intended to be a valuable source of knowledge about real-time, round-the-clock engine operation. That information can be used to improve engine performance based on load profiles acquired over complete voyages in a full range of ambient conditions – air temperature and pressure, winds, tides and currents.
“In present market conditions, where shipping companies are striving to further optimise their operations and reduce costs, this technology will provide real-time support to improve the performance and operational efficiency of their main engines and machinery, while simultaneously strengthening WinGD’s technology leadership in this new digital era,” says operations vice president Andrew Stump.
“With real-time data collection and exchange across a shipping company’s vessels, WinGD’s new engine diagnostics system will be the first advanced product on a two-stroke engine that will not only optimise and monitor performance but also track the condition of key engine components. It will be able to predict future malfunctions and provide troubleshooting support to shipping companies in order to prevent failures and fix technical problems faster and more economically.”
Looking at the wider implications of digitisation at a time when global communications networks are expanding rapidly, Mr Stump notes that the project represents a great step forward in WinGD’s digital transformation journey. “Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things represent tremendous opportunities for traditional businesses when incorporating and integrating digital services into product portfolios to achieve a leading position in the next innovation wave,” he states.
“Our collaboration with Propulsion Analytics utilises its deep digital knowledge to enable a more traditional products company such as ours to enlarge its offering by taking advantage of the digital technologies.”
Dominik Schneiter, WinGD research and development vice president, sees the agreement as a key step towards technology leadership, too. “The collaboration with Propulsion Analytics will help us realise our ambition to lead innovation in the field of shipping digitisation, focusing first on the two-stroke engine – our core expertise – and then enlarging it to the whole ship machinery and smart ship,” he said.
For its part, Propulsion Analytics regards the new engine diagnostics system as a breakthrough innovation, both in terms of the technologies employed and the breadth of operational benefits that this digital transformation brings to the end customer and the environment.
“The engine diagnostics system is something that the industry has been expecting for a long time and we are really happy to embark on this journey with a pioneering partner like WinGD. The combination of Internet of Things technologies with physical models, big data analytics and human expertise are at the core of our company’s philosophy,” says Panos Theodossopoulos, Propulsion Analytics’ chief executive.
The agreement targets the implementation of one pilot system with a leading shipping company by early 2017. The prototype is expected to be running in the field by mid 2017 and full release on the entire WinGD engine portfolio is forecast for 2018.
MaK and Caterpillar Marine Asset Intelligence announced a partnership with class society DNV GL last year to help make the change from time-based maintenance to condition based maintenance. The partnership will leverage the predictive analytics of Cat Asset Intelligence in accordance with DNV GL’s survey arrangement machinery condition monitoring requirements.
By using data analytics to provide transparency and validate equipment condition, unnecessary maintenance costs can be avoided by linking maintenance to condition and not to the calendar. Furthermore, comprehensive reliability studies have shown that human intervention is a key factor in over 80 per cent of failures, according to Caterpillar. By using data analytics to validate equipment condition, unnecessary human intervention and inspection activity can be avoided or deferred.
Not only can shipowners use Cat Asset Intelligence analytics to validate the condition of equipment, but they can also use predictive analytics to identify potential problems before failure, independently of the planned maintenance schedule. This helps shipowners to avoid the operational and repair costs of unexpected failures.
Both of these uses of Cat Asset Intelligence help reduce maintenance, planned and unplanned, as well as the associated downtime. Caterpillar hopes that leveraging the analytics of Cat Asset Intelligence will help shipowners and operators to make better decisions using data and actionable information.
This project began with a customer that had a vessel powered by the new, MaK M 46 DF dual-fuel engine, which was delivered and supported by Zeppelin Power Systems.
“This is going to be a major step forward for many shipowners and their operations in the future. This effort enables operations and maintenance leaders to make better decisions using data and analytics, helping to drive down cost, downtime and risk. This is further enhanced by DNV GL, which brings a vast level of experience in safeguarding life, property and the environment,” said Ken Krooner, technology and operations manager for Caterpillar Marine Asset Intelligence.
“At DNV GL we are always looking to work with our customers to find ways of using new technologies and operational strategies, to help the industry become safer, smarter and greener,” said Oliver Darley, head of ship systems, materials and components at DNV GL Maritime. “This project combines the expertise and experience of the equipment maker, analytics provider, vessel owner and operator, and DNV GL as a classification society to take a real step forward in improving vessel performance and efficiency.”
More recently, Caterpillar Marine received type approval from DNV GL for Cat Asset Intelligence (Cat AI) software, demonstrating Caterpillar’s commitment to quality and customer focus, according to the manufacturer. Caterpillar provides Cat AI advanced predictive analytics and expert advisory services to shipowners and operators with onboard and shore based modules, which can be configured for a single vessel or an entire fleet.
Cat AI is focused on increasing uptime by predicting and avoiding failures and offering better maintenance planning, and on decreasing operating costs through fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance expense. With over 40 million hours of equipment analytics experience, Cat Asset Intelligence turns data into actionable information for Cat and non-Cat equipment including diesel engines and non-diesel engine auxiliary equipment.
While it is no newcomer to this sphere, Rolls-Royce, too, has recently announced a strategic partnership with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland to design, test and validate the first generation of remote and autonomous ships. The new partnership will combine and integrate the two companies’ unique expertise to make such vessels a commercial reality.
Rolls-Royce is pioneering the development of remote controlled and autonomous ships and believes a remote controlled vessel will be in commercial use by the end of the decade. The company is applying technology, skills and experience from across its businesses to this development.
VTT has deep knowledge of ship simulation and extensive expertise in the development and management of safety-critical and complex systems in demanding environments, such as nuclear safety. It combines physical tests, such as model and tank testing, with digital technologies such as data analytics and computer visualisation. It will also use field research to incorporate human factors into safe ship design.
As a result of working with the Finnish telecommunications sector, VTT has extensive experience of working with 5G mobile phone technology and WiFi mesh networks. VTT has the first 5G test network in Finland.
Working with VTT will enable Rolls-Royce to assess the performance of remote and autonomous designs through the use of traditional model tank tests and digital simulation, enabling the company to develop functional, safe and reliable prototypes.
Karno Tenovuo, Rolls-Royce ship intelligence vice president, said: “Remotely operated ships are a key development project for Rolls-Royce Marine, and VTT is a reliable and innovative partner for the development of a smart ship concept. This collaboration is a natural continuation of the earlier user experience and usability in complex systems (UXUS) project, where we developed totally new bridge and remote control systems for shipping.”
Erja Turunen, executive vice president at VTT, said: “Rolls-Royce is a pioneer in remotely controlled and autonomous shipping. Our collaboration strengthens the way we can integrate and leverage VTT’s expertise in simulation and safety validation, including the industrial Internet of Things, to develop new products and, in the future, enable us to develop new solutions for new areas of application as well.”
Wärtsilä increases operational safety and predictability for LNG carriers
Wärtsilä has signed a 10-year maintenance agreement with MOL LNG Transport (Europe), part of Japan’s MOL Group. The agreement, which covers two liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, increases the predictability of the vessels’ operations, enhances safety and reduces operational costs. The comprehensive service agreement includes all scheduled engine maintenance activities, workshop services and online remote support.
With Wärtsilä’s condition based maintenance (CBM) solution, maintenance activities for the two vessels’ engines can be planned based on actual engine condition rather than following a strict calendar-based schedule. The CBM solution controls and extends the engine maintenance intervals, reducing operational costs and downtime.
The CBM monitoring system continuously collects data about the engines’ operating parameters and transmits the information, in real time, to a Wärtsilä service centre for technical expert analysis.
“We see great potential in the growing LNG industry and are very happy to partner with MOL LNG Transport (Europe) to help the company optimise the maintenance of its vessels. A long-term maintenance agreement allows us to plan maintenance activities efficiently, taking into account equipment condition as well as the customer’s operating schedule and environment,” says Andy Dickinson, managing director of Wärtsilä UK.
The vessels covered by the agreement, LNG carriers Spirit of Hela and Gigira Laitebo, are each equipped with four Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines.
“We value Wärtsilä’s expertise and knowledge about these engines and therefore see Wärtsilä as a valued working partner for cost effective maintenance of our LNG carriers. We also place great importance on maximising our vessels’ availability, which will be achieved through this agreement” says Martin Gallacher, deputy general manager of MOL LNG Transport (Europe).
MOL LNG Transport (Europe), based in London, UK is part of the ocean shipping company MOL Group (Mitsui OSK Lines), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The MOL Group, stock listed in Tokyo and Nagoya, is a leader in international ocean shipping. The company transports natural gas around the world and continuously develops its LNG fleet to meet the increasing demand for natural gas as well as to ensure the operational efficiency and safety of its vessels.