Shipping is in the midst of a digital transformation that will ultimately lead to autonomous ships, major improvements in fleet management and condition-based maintenance programmes. Kongsberg Digital president Hege Skryseth thinks shipowners can gain huge benefits from digitalisation and is urging some of the major players to take a technological lead.
She told Marine Electronics & Communications that up to 40% cost reductions can be realised from adopting digitalisation. This would include adopting predictive and planned maintenance, ship monitoring and data analytics.
“As more vessels are connected it is possible to reduce costs across an entire fleet,” said Ms Skryseth. “If 40% reductions in opex can be achieved then it is important to look into this.”
Reductions in operating expenditure can be achieved by cutting fuel consumption, optimising trim and hull and improving route planning. “This can all come from an overall monitoring solution,” she explained.
Going from periodic maintenance to condition-based maintenance can reduce downtime and the risk of equipment failures. “This is the future of maintenance,” said Ms Skryseth, adding that a wide range of parameters, such as vibration, pressure and temperature can be monitored on rotating machinery and engines.
“A key component to this is analytics for providing customers with information – and we are cracking that code,” she said.
Kongsberg has developed the Kognifai platform as a host for digital solutions. This is available for application providers and ship operators to host their fleet management on. “Kognifai is a cloud-based platform and has a translation layer so data can be moved around ships and to shore,” she explained.
Kongsberg is in discussions with suppliers of fleet management and operational cost cutting applications. “Many shipowners are discussing when to start the digital transformation. There is value in being the first mover,” she said. One of the values is the development of remote real-time monitoring and control of vessels.
Kongsberg is taking a lead in developing remote control and autonomous ship technology. It is supplying systems to a new container ship, Yara Birkeland, which is being built for autonomous operations on a shortsea route along the Norwegian coast. It is scheduled to enter service in 2019, when it will be operated remotely. But it will be operated in an autonomous mode starting in 2020. “We are using a digital twin on a simulator to test the autonomous operations,” said Ms Skryseth.
However, she thinks other projects may not be fully autonomous but can gain from technical advances in vessel automation. “It does not need to be unmanned,” she added. “There could be some semi-autonomous ships, plus autonomous or remote control in harbours operations – there is significant interest in this area.”
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be important enabling technology for remote control of vessels, said Ms Skryseth. “AR could be incorporated in maritime remote control rooms and we see VR is coming in training and designing control rooms,” she explained, adding that these technologies will enable more simulation training on board ships to enable crew to practice operations before conducting them.