Vessel performance optimisation: what do the experts say?

Vessel performance optimisation: what do the experts say?

In the era of digitalisation, pursuing total vessel optimisation is the challenge. This is the thought NYK Line’s Dr. Ando Hideyuki, Senior General Manager, Monohakobi Technology Institute, shared with participants at Digital Ship’s first Vessel Performance Optimisation event, held in Copenhagen last year. This was the first event in a series of forums planned to help shipowners and operators understand how to get the best performance from their vessels. Experts from all over the industry discussed the steps towards vessel efficiency. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Jakob Buus Petersen, Co-Founder and Director, Vessel Performance Solutions, believes that making a vessel efficient should come from firstly designing an efficient ship, and secondly by keeping vessels technically fit through ensuring maximum hull and propeller performance. The efficiency of the ship will be heavily influenced by its design and of course the more efficient a ship is, the more likely it is to be chartered.

Then there is the delivery of the vessel. Which propulsion systems will the vessel have to keep it running at optimal efficiency? For instance, it could make use of batteries or fuel cells for part of its voyage, reducing overall fuel consumption. A vessel will also require a coating to limit biofouling, increasing efficiency by reducing resistance. According to Karsten Borneman Sørensen, Head of License, Propellers, MAN Diesel & Turbo, getting the most efficient performance from the propeller is about applying it in a holistic way, carefully considering it as part of the entire ship and not as an individual component.

The ship will then be fitted with some technologies or systems to ensure its operation is as efficient and as safe as possible. Route, weather and trim optimisation systems or fleet management software will be used for navigation and performance improvements, while marine scrubbers and ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) will be installed to ensure regulatory compliance.

Then there is maintaining and continually improving the performance of the ship over its lifetime. Big Data, digital twins, cleaning schedules and remote monitoring are all used to assess the performance of a ship over a longer period of time and gather increasing knowledge on where and how vessel energy efficiency can be improved. Adhering to all of these at once will, in Buus Petersen’s eyes, ultimately ensure the most cost-effective and efficient operation of a ship.

While taking all this into account, it is vital that the industry works together. Jenny Braat, Managing Director, Danish Maritime, says that “our industry alone does not have enough knowledge to progress. We need help from others and we need to work together as none of us can solve this problem alone (the problem of negativity when it comes to regulation compliance and knowing which solutions have the best long-term investment potential). Braat believes what the industry needs is to understand and combine economic, safety and environmental areas, and be faster implementing new regulations.

A key highlight of the event was the focus that was put on the importance of culture in performance management. Jesper S. Jensen, Head of Technical Division, TORM, believes that only we as people are to blame if efficiency is not good enough and what is needed is to work with people that know their ships. People that understand how a vessel operates and people that can read and analyse data. According to Jensen, it is about getting the right, knowledgeable people and then fitting the right software to make huge gains in efficiency without making huge investments.

Data are of course significant to vessel performance optimisation. Tom Erling Hansen, VP Sales North Europe, Marlink – Maritime, regards training people to measure and manage data just as important as the data itself. People must have the capabilities to understand data and digital systems, and managers must know what it is they want from their staff and their data. Sharing this data is another step towards improving vessel performance, and for this reason a standard is essential. It will be much better for the shipping industry in general if companies can make their data available to make smarter decisions and therefore, smarter ways of shipping.

This is especially important, according to Mogens Schrøder Bech, Director, Maritime R&D, Danish Maritime Authority who believes that each ship is its own creation, its own world and achieving efficiency is about looking at all the parameters of each ship, as an individual. But the issue is understanding the data and what it means, and therefore education is essential to getting new competencies and new information that will help to improve vessel performance.

Find out more about the 2018 VPO events here.

* Digital Ship’s new VPO platform covers the four key pillars of vessel optimisation – Design, Delivery, Operations, and Maintenance & Continuous Improvement. News in these areas can be followed at VPO Global.