Digitalisation helps keep company fleets shipshape

How do you measure ship efficiency? Ask 10 ship owners, operators and managers the same question and you’ll undoubtedly get 10 different answers. The key reason for this maritime riddle is the sheer number and diversity of the devices and techniques operators can call on for this vital aid to vessel-operating.

Here we highlight some recent technologies which we believe meet the criteria owners, operators and managers’ needs. Wärtsilä subsidiary Eniram has produced a performance monitoring system called Skylight 2.0, an updated version of its Skylight 1.0. This includes nautical maps, weather layers and route importation – all vital ways to make a difference to vessel efficiency.

Skylight also enables users to switch between updated nautical maps and Google maps. This helps operators analyse and predict a vessel’s movements. The system’s
key benefits are its ability to help reduce the fuel consumption of vessel owners, operators and charterers who want to accurately track their fuel spend and optimise their vessels’ operations. It also helps operators reduce emission levels and comply with the MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) emissions regulations starting on 1st January 2018.

With Skylight 2.0, noon reports are automatically collected from standard template emails without the need for additional software. The Skylight transponder continuously sends reliable and near real-time movements via a two-way Inmarsat satellite connection which exceeds the quality and data frequency possible with AIS. Reports are delivered weekly via email so they are easy to access and archive.

Users pay a monthly subscription fee for the Skylight 2.0. This includes everything from the shipment of the transponder to the vessel, the traffic data, reporting and the software interface. “Skylight 2.0 represents an operative tool that eases business decisions regarding cost efficiency, safety and environmental considerations. It comes as the result of our cooperation with owners and operators and listening to their needs,” said Jan Wilhelmsson, Vice President, Commercial Shipping at Eniram.

Another invaluable way for owners and operators to monitor vessel efficiency is via a digital fleet performance centre. The classification society DNV GL has opened two of these in the major maritime hubs of Hamburg and Singapore. Systems at the centres check incoming vessel data from customers using DNV GL’s ECO Insight platform. This gives users quality control over their data and offers suggestions on ship efficiency such as identifying speed loitering and the over-use of auxiliary engines or boilers.

Dedicated DNV GL performance managers verify the validity of performance alerts before they are sent to customers. They also analyse why performances differ between vessels of the same fleet and then propose actions.

Christian Rychly, Managing Director of the German shipmanagement company Leonhardt & Blumberg, which has fitted ECO Insight platforms to 35 of its vessels (with 20 more to follow), said: “It is of great value to us when performance experts provide a ‘second pair of eyes‘ on our fleet and give us real-time warnings if vessels are not being operated in the most efficient manner. To mitigate the market pressure, we exactly need those tools which enhance our efficiency and help us to comply with the ever more challenging environmental regulations.

“The fleet performance centres are one of  the ways we are working to use digitalisation to help our customers enhance their competitiveness through improved efficiency, greater safety, and increased margins,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “By working together (with our customers), we can now truly see the benefits of ‘big data’ in shipping – and giving ship managers a direct line to our trusted expert advice, makes taking these gains even easier.”

Another key cost saver for efficient ship operations is the application of effective hull coatings which, according to Andreas Glud, Ship Segment Manager, Marine, Dry Dock at the coatings manufacturer Hempel Marine, “can deliver as much as 6% of fuel savings across the entire docking interval”.

“An advanced antifouling hull coating plays a major role in improving a vessel’s hydrodynamics. When fouling organisms, such as barnacles and biological slime, attach to a vessel’s hull, the extra drag they create means additional fuel is needed to move the ship through the water, which in turn increases both fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions. Large vessels require many tonnes of fuel and even a small reduction in fuel consumption can result in significantly lower emissions. This means that reducing fouling and hull roughness will significantly impact a vessel’s bottom line performance,” said Mr Glud.

When the oil tanker specialist Euronav switched three of its VLCCs to Hempel’s Hempaguard X7 specialist coating, the company saw a significant increase in the vessels’ fuel efficiency. Euronav then applied the coating to three more vessels. “Our performance monitoring system has provided Euronav with a more holistic analysis of how well the hull, and therefore also the coating system, was performing. Subsequently, the results provided a clear picture of the return on investment,” said Mr Glud.

“Our analysis offers a higher performance baseline than those gained through the ISO 19030 standard as we can determine the relationship between hull and propeller performance and the actual fuel consumed – not only from
a relative performance level over a specific time period,
but also by benchmarking the performance against its newbuild condition.”