Smart functions require onboard technology and data infrastructure to enable real-time health monitoring, performance optimization and/or to enable crew assistance and augmentation in support of vessel operations. Each vessel however is unique, therefore, owners need to consider how smart functionality will benefit the vessel and set goals associated with their implementation.

The data infrastructure to support smart functionality is already available. The physics-based and machine learning algorithms to correlate physical phenomena between different parts of the vessel in real time, are being developed as we speak and the only thing that remains is to identify the point in time when smart interconnected equipment will enable better safety and performance optimization decisions, compared to what the crew can perform today.

As the data-centric asset becomes the focal point for class services, it is important to establish technical requirements.

If we consider the shore side office or the vendor’s office as a natural extension of a smart vessel operation, then technical standards for the interconnected systems, need to be established and verified independently to be able to consider these systems as a natural extension of the vessel for real time remote monitoring, crew assistance and machinery troubleshooting applications.

In its smart technical requirements, ABS has outlined key considerations for data infrastructure:

  • Sensors and instrumentation;
  • Onboard data transmission and data infrastructure;
  • Onboard data processing, data analytics and decision assistance;
  • Onboard system integration;
  • Onshore Data transmission;
  • Cybersecurity and data integrity.

In the upcoming ABS Guide for Smart Function Implementation ABS will cover the marine design space defined by the above key areas with technical requirements for the data infrastructure in addition to requirements for the actual smart functions themselves. A Guide generally includes technical requirements for designs which may not always be mandatory for classification, but may apply on a case-by-case basis if the owner decides to invest in such capabilities. The Smart Series includes a Guide and Guidance Notes where ABS details five major smart function categories:

  • Structural Health;
  • Machinery Health;
  • Asset Efficiency;
  • Operational Performance;
  • Crew Assistance & Augmentation.

The functional requirements defined for each of these groups are supported by the foundational technical requirements of the data infrastructure. Within this framework, ABS establishes the risk-based verification and validation principles that our engineers and surveyors will follow. Technical requirements for implementing smart functions of medium and high-risk levels are subject to more robust criteria for software integrity and cybersecurity, as described in the ABS cyber series of technical publications and the ABS software series of technical publications.

The Smart Guide will elaborate on the goal-based approach defined in the ABS Guidance Notes on Smart Function Implementation to cover the first two categories explained earlier: structural health and machinery health. Technical requirements for the underlined data infrastructure are also defined based on risk and optional Class notations are offered to ships that comply with the criteria contained in the ABS Smart Guide.

For companies focused on vessel efficiency, operational performance and crew assistance functions, a goal-based approach can be deployed to explore and define their particular objectives. The functional requirements for achieving these goals will first be defined and then coupled with a technology qualification process. The Smart Guide covers the technical requirements and the necessary validation and verification activities that would be provided by ABS to confirm a vessel can achieve the intended smart functionality.

The independent validation and verification requirements are defined and established based on the categorization of risk. The risk matrix maps the likelihood of the smart functionality failure against the consequence of that smart functionality failure to the operations of the company. Higher risk levels require more robust criteria for the various system properties on board, namely the system safety, dependability, performance, functionality and operability.

The ABS Smart approach has introduced a pathway for the implementation of smart functionality and the various roles along the way. The first step is identifying the goals for specific focus areas. ABS can support owners in their communication with potential vendors, helping to define the functional requirements for a particular smart function implementation and to review independently the technical specifications provided as a solution by the vendors. Subsequently, ABS will verify that the system is implemented, per the plan, during the construction and pre-delivery stages and that throughout the lifecycle of the vessel, the vendor will maintain and upgrade the system according to the approved plans.


Above text is an edited version of Mr. Dimitris Armanes presentation during the 2019 SMART4SEA CONFERENCE.

You may view his presentation herebelow.

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.

About Demetres Armanes, Senior Engineer, ABS

Demetres Armanes is currently a senior research engineer at the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). He holds a Ph.D. in Intelligent Control and a B.Eng. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from The University of Liverpool. He worked as a Chartered Engineer designing Marine Programmable Electronic Systems, prior joining ABS in 2010 as a Regional Account Manager for ABS Nautical Systems.