Connectivity Lifts Safety and Efficiency to the Next Level

By Eric Haun
Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Ship classification society risk and sustainability service provider DNV GL briefed the press today on the future of shipping at an event at the Posidonia exhibition in Greece. Tor Svensen, CEO, DNV GL Maritime, examined the potential and the challenges of shipping’s increasing use of connected systems to improve safety and efficiency. This new paradigm requires a different approach to testing and certification, to ensure safety and reliability while retaining a level competitive playing field.

Tor Svensen presented DNV GL’s recently released report: “The Future of Shipping”. The report maps out six pathways to a future for the industry which is safer and more sustainable: safe operations of ships, advanced ship design, the connected ship, future materials, efficient shipping and low carbon energy. Meeting the challenges of the next 25 years would require not only investment in technologies, but would require the industry learning to think about their business and operation in new ways, he said. One of those was the increasing penetration of information and communication technology (ICT) across the maritime world, what DNV GL has dubbed: “The Connected Ship”.

The Connected Ship refers to the impact that the convergence of real time data transmission, high computing capacity, mathematical modeling capabilities, remote control, sensors and miniaturization will have on the shape of the industry. These new systems would have a marked impact on safety, said Svensen. “Online monitoring and decision support can lift human performance, closing the gap between safety goals and current practice. Shipping currently has a crew fatality rate ten times that of OECD best practice levels and the industry needs to target a reduction of 90% to match that level”.

Shipping could draw lessons from the offshore industry, which has developed a number of automated systems with marine applications to improve performance, Tor Svensen suggested. Remote operation is already a reality in subsea operations in the offshore industry. The end goal is to be able to deploy integrated systems, advanced navigation systems and sophisticated software that could manage smart sensor and actuator networks to maintain a vessel’s course in changing sea and weather conditions, avoid collisions, and operate the ship efficiently.

“However, we must continue the development of the regimes that ensure the safety and stability of these systems. Software systems are now an integral part of safety critical barriers, but because of their modular, multi-party nature they are often not easily testable before installation and operation”, said Tor Svensen. He noted that DNV GL has already introduced requirements for the certification of software systems in the classification rules with the ISDS (Integrated Software Dependent Systems) standard.

The recent acquisition of Marine Cybernetics, a pioneer in Hardware-in-the Loop-Testing (HIL) for the marine and offshore industries demonstrated the importance of providing DNV GL’s customers a broader platform for software and systems testing, Svensen said.

HIL testing is already the de-facto standard in the automotive and aviation industries for testing complex control system software. By developing an independent simulation of the dynamic systems of the vessel or drilling rig, the control software can be tested by conducting a virtual sea trial - examining how the software interacts with the simulator. Virtual tank testing is becoming more common in ship design, extending this to software enhances the quality of testing by increasing its scope and allows testing before installation, thereby reducing commissioning time.

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