Offshore vessel operators can reduce costs, improve crew welfare and enhance their operations by using the latest in IT and communications technology, as Martyn Wingrove reports
By upgrading satellite communications, vessel owners can utilise digitalisation technologies to monitor onboard equipment performance and prevent failures from forcing vessels off-hire.
Speaking at the 2018 Annual OSJ Conference in London in February, Lloyd’s Register strategy marketing manager Richard McLoughlin outlined how the whole offshore vessel sector should invest in data analytics and diagnostics technology for asset management, performance and condition monitoring and for making more informed decisions.
“Data helps [owners] manage degradation before failure,” he told delegates. Operators can “capture performance and condition, identify fatigue hotspots and make adjustments
Lloyd’s Register has introduced cyber notations and just certified the first newbuildings indicating that some of their systems are remotely monitored. “We expect cyber enablement will allow us to implement analytics and affect the extent and frequency of vessel surveys,” he said.
Inmarsat can provide the connectivity between ship and shore for remote system monitoring. This is possible over its fourth and fifth generation of satellites. Inmarsat vice president for sales in offshore energy Eric Griffin explained how Ka-band connectivity over the Global Xpress constellation has enough bandwidth for data transmission
s on top of the requirements for crew welfare and other operational uses.
To assist offshore vessel operators, Inmarsat has introduced a flexible version of its Fleet Xpress hybrid VSAT service that combines Ka-band with FleetBroadband L-band. “Our flexibility means owners can move up or down one of 13 plans across the contract period to meet changes in demand,” said Mr Griffin.
Owners can increase bandwidth available to vessels that are on charter and need greater amounts of data transmission capacity. They can then reduce bandwidth once vessels go off-hire. He said these plans can offer bandwidth of up to 8 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload.
Another application for this connectivity could be for monitoring the performance and condition of deck equipment. MacGregor director of digitalisation and technology Håkon Jørgensen explained that sensors in a series of cranes on vessels would capture data, such as pressure and temperature, which can be transmitted to shore for analysis.
With greater levels of data, analysis algorithms “can follow trends and patterns” and compare values with other cranes “to establish ranges and benchmark” performance. Machine learning will enable these analytics to identify when cranes are “outside their operating ranges” and alert operators “before this leads to a failure”, said Mr Jørgensen.
Caterpillar Marine used the OSJ event to introduce its multi-engine optimising (MEO) tool. Product manager Theodore Wiersema explained how this could reduce fuel consumption and emissions from offshore vessels and tugs.
MEO is loaded with optimised test data that is used to operate a vessel’s various engines in combination to achieve their optimum performance. MEO uses proprietary performance data and patented control algorithms to provide intelligence to advise power-management systems on which engines to operate. It enables the use of dynamic asymmetric loads to drive a combination of engines and loads to create the lowest possible fuel consumption.
Networking technology will enhance connectivity
Two communications companies have formed a partnership that will develop alternative online network technology for offshore drilling rig connectivity. IP communications enabler
, Softil , and mission-critical server pioneer , Nemergent Solutions , are developing long-term evolution and 5G mobile networks.
These can be used for mission-critical communications from offshore drilling rigs and other maritime infrastructure using coastal and offshore networks. They can also be applied to onshore infrastructure protection and disaster relief operations.
Softil chief executive Pierre Hagendorf expects the technology will enable video conferencing and data streaming from remote locations. “Our solutions represent definitive building blocks for the next generation of mission-critical communications in the widest of applications,” he said. Nemergent chief executive Jose Oscar Fajardo said the partnership technology can be used for streaming “real-time information that involves transmitting significant amounts of data in a reliable and uninterrupted manner”.