To help owners build a competitive advantage, a joint industry project (JIP) was formed in Norway in 2018 by a group of seven OSV owners and ship managers with the aim of implementing and testing various digital technologies to reduce emissions, increase safety and reduce costs. The ambition is to digitally transform operations with minimal risks and investments.

The project members are pooling their resources, and DNV GL is coordinating some of the activities. All participants will provide vessels to test specific digital solutions. The project is subdivided into four so-called work streams, or key focal areas:

  • Centralization of tasks to relieve the people on board of some routine duties; establish operation control centres on shore to handle remote monitoring, data processing and control tasks.
  • Remote inspections to cut the costs of dispatching experts over large distances to inspect simple things.
  • Smart maintenance through condition-based monitoring; install sensors and related equipment to save costs.
  • Energy-efficiency optimization to save fuel using digital tools, deep learning, machine learning, data collection, etc.

In addition, according to Arnstein Eknes, Segment Director for Special Ships at DNV GL, the project including the JIP steering committee has worked very quickly and identified many items for testing and piloting that could benefit the industry.

Namely, the group has had in-depth discussions with various technology providers. To prepare for Phase II, the committee is in the process of applying for funding from various government agencies, scientific foundations, innovation funds and other external organizations so many of these solutions can be executed, tested and implemented soon.

In Phase II, called “Solution Design”, specific technologies will be selected for testing, and guidelines for the trials will be drafted.

As for Phase III, it will focus on implementing and piloting the selected solutions, presumably throughout 2020. Knut Ljungberg, Principal Consultant, Shipping Advisory at DNV GL, commented:

We expect each owner to do at least one pilot. Some technologies will be piloted by all shipping companies because this makes the costs more manageable; for instance, remote inspections will be fairly low-cost and everybody can participate in piloting them and learning together. On the other hand, establishing a shore-based operations centre is more cost-intensive and complex; we don’t expect each shipping company to pilot everything

The range of solutions to be tested covers areas such as performance management, decision support and reporting, but also navigation and dynamic positioning (DP), automation, remote operation of machinery, opportunities for more automatic or autonomous functions and gaining insight through big data analysis.

In addition, DNV GL noted that cutting costs does not necessarily mean cutting jobs. Insted, digitalization should enable companies to reduce human error while assigning staff to more valuable tasks and responsibilities. On the other hand, knowing that an important share of the operating cost is associated with crewing and office resources, companies that can deliver a future service by using fewer people who use technology in smarter ways than today while being fully compliant and transparent in their safety performance towards their customers will have a competitive advantage.

Finally, while it is too early to predict the outcome, the DNV GL facilitators have set an approximate goal:

We hope to achieve a 10 to 15 per cent reduction of CO2, and maybe a cost reduction of 15 to 20 per cent for the owners and operators