Wilson Sons Creates Chat Bot to Expedite Tug Maintenance

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 14, 2020

(Photo: Wilson Sons)

(Photo: Wilson Sons)

Wilson Sons creates intelligent tool to expedite tug maintenance  

Brazil's largest tugboat operator has developed a chat bot that simulates conversations and handles demands for fleet repairs to help expedite diagnosis and services of corrective maintenance.

Wilson Sons said it developed the intelligent tool to expedite tug maintenance  across its fleet of 80 tugboats. Designed by Tuglab, the company's innovation laboratory, and by the Maintenance and IT areas, a chat bot—a robot that simulates a human being in virtual conversations—answers questions and guides the crew on possible repairs to machinery and equipment onboard the vessels. 

The solution for tugboat maintenance is part of Wilson Sons’ chat bot system, which has various applications and functionalities in the Group's business units. Leandro Aversa, Maintenance Manager of Wilson Sons Tugboat Division, said, "The new tool will also help familiarize the crew members, when on board, with the different classes of tugboats.”

The maintenance chat bot is connected to the tugboat on-board process platform, which stores operational data such as fuel level, maneuvers to be performed, preventive maintenance, among others. The first tests started this month and are being conducted on two of the company's vessels: the Andromeda, in San Francisco do Sul (State of Santa Catarina), and the Carina, in Itaguai (State of Rio de Janeiro). 

In the tests, items such as ease of access, accuracy of responses and even whether the different Brazilian regional accents are understood by the robot will be evaluated. "It will be a great evolution to have this technology on board, supporting the crew in the Engineering section", reports Chief Engineer Bruno Silva, who is participating in the pilot project in São Francisco do Sul.

The solution started being designed earlier this year. "We started based on two premises: the knowledge of the Wilson Sons experts and the need to make this content available more quickly to the onboard personnel," said Simone Prado, Project Manager of Tuglab.

During the last two months, daily interviews were conducted with maintenance, IT and Tuglab professionals to define the interaction parameters. "It's a very complex job, involving 11 classes of tugboats, with different equipment and features," Simone said. 

The project manager explained that the system learns with each new interaction. "The more information, the better the tool." The expectation is that by the end of the year the chat bot will be available onboard a large part of the fleet.

The project is one more step taken by Wilson Sons on the path of innovation. At the beginning of the year, the company launched its first artificial intelligence (AI) system for tugboats. Developed by Tuglab, in partnership with startups, the software is used for the planning of maneuvers and is in operation at the company’s branches in Rio de Janeiro (State of Rio de Janeiro), Vitória (State of Espírito Santo) and Santos (State of São Paulo). 

(Photo: Wilson Sons)

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