OVER the past five years, commercial shipping has adapted to various market developments and regulatory requirements to optimise ship performance. Key technological adoptions found on advanced merchant vessels today can be broadly categorised in two areas.
Intelligent ships that facilitate autonomous operations for improved efficiency and reliability have been fuelled by the following technologies:
- Sensors. Increased use of sensors on board vessels have been enabled by the advancement in sensor technology at a lower cost. These allow for digital collection and wireless transmission of ship data for remote monitoring. Applications include remote controlling and management of shipboard systems as well as data analytics for preventive measures and decision-making.
- Condition monitoring. Ship data gathered from sensors aid in monitoring conditions to allow preventive operational measures to be taken in advance. Maintenance and part replacements are scheduled at optimal periods to maintain ship performance and reliability. Ships also minimise downtime for maintenance and repair at shipyards due to mechanical and engineering breakdowns.
- Improved connectivity and communications. Wireless communication infrastructure is essential to smart ship technologies as huge volumes of data traffic between ships and shore will require reliable bandwidth and speed. The proliferation of satellite communications and adoption of advanced communication technologies by all maritime industry players are key to effectively connecting and controlling the global fleet from anywhere in the world.
- Remote monitoring. Remote monitoring reduces the need for reliance on people to gather and report data. This not only helps to reduce the chances of man-made errors but also reduces the need for people to take on dangerous operational jobs and situations.
- Improved weather and sea condition predictions. Ships operate in a range of conditions, including unpredictable weather and sea state conditions. Reducing uncertainty by enabling advance alerts and advice through more accurate prediction of such elements provides better risk mitigation in the management of assets and safety of people.