New vessel automation and sensor technology unveiled


The latest vessel automation and sensor technology was revealed at Riviera Maritime Media’s European Dynamic Positioning Conference. The future of vessel operations and shipping was unveiled by Wärtsilä and GE Marine Solutions at the London conference.

Wärtsilä vice president for commercial operations Mark Ford explained how smart prediction units will help the shipping and offshore industries head towards greater vessel autonomy. He explained that SmartPredict will display the expected position of a vessel in the short-term future, perhaps multiple seconds in advance to help operators avoid incidents and collisions. He forecasts that this could drive the shipping industry to greater levels of autonomous ships.

GE’s marine systems solutions director Nick Smith outlined how the shipping industry needs to adopt greater levels of digitalisation. He said this needs to be done as an integrated ecosystem where data is hosted on cloud online assets and data is processed locally on ships using Edge technology. GE offers its Predix open predictive software platform to organisations that wish to write applications for predictive maintenance and remote monitoring of vessels. Mr Smith also introduced SeaLyte, GE’s new vessel handling and DP controls for smaller ships.

For dynamic positioning, exhibitors at the conference have unveiled new position reference sensors. Veripos has launched the multi-constellation service Apex 5 and visualisation software interface. Oceaneering’s C-Nav has introduced interference resistance antennas and Positioneering has unveiled its positioning service. Positioneering chief executive Tony Leary told delegates that the system uses primary and secondary positioning methods, one that is precise with 10cm accuracy and the other that is more robust, but less accurate. It uses the latest precise positioning and differential techniques. Positioneering has set up an application store so users can download interfaces to different DP systems and has installed these on several vessels operating in Asia. 

DNV GL has launched a free, online application for vessel operators to test the capabilities of ship positioning and DP. DNV GL senior principal specialist for DP systems, Aleks Karlsen, said this is based on new standards for station keeping assessment, which were published in January 2016. He said there were five levels of assessment, based on the Beaufort scale for wind and sea state.

DNV GL also discussed how the offshore industry could adopt closed bus-tie operations. This involves redundant power systems linked through closed bus ties, which reduces ship emissions, but is considered to be prone to faults and failures. DNV GL group technical authority for DP explained that systems need to be designed for safe operations in closed bus-tie modes and for more testing. Operators also need to consider more protective functions in DP systems when operating in this mode.