Monitoring fleet performance with remote control centres

Monitoring fleet performance with remote control centres
Data required to set up an effective fleet remote control centre according to Matteo Barsotti, senior consultant at IB

Many shipping companies are setting up remote fleet control centres to monitor the performance of their vessels and fleets. Setting up a centre is a large task with a number of people and processes involved, but if implemented successfully can provide a centralised system to assess and manage an entire fleet and the performance of its vessels.

A fleet remote control centre, which can have a physical presence or be completely cloud based, enables performance managers to understand what is happening onboard a vessel or across the entire fleet. To build a fleet control centre, data has to be gathered and brought together before it can be modelled and analysed to realise what is means for vessel performance.

According to Caterina Cerrini, head of strategic partnership with IB, one of the key benefits of a fleet control centre is that it can provide financial transparency to improve ship profitability. “For example having real-time data on fuel consumption gives you a better understanding of whether the ship’s financial situation can or must be improved,” she noted during VPO’s webinar on ‘Setting up a fleet remote control centre’.

Furthermore, fleet control centres can help shipping companies to understand and comply with the increasing number of environmental regulations they must navigate today.

One of the challenges with setting up a fleet control centre is the significant quantities of up-to-date and high-quality data that are required for the fleet control centre to provide value. “It’s not a question of gathering data but these data must be updated, well visualised with a high frequency,” Ms Cerrini said.

Moreover, access to data can be difficult as questions around data ownership and sharing are often raised.

To successfully implement a fleet remote control centre, data from the navigational side such as speed is required, load condition such as draught and displacement is needed, GPS position, distance, external elements such as weather information are all required. From the automation side power, rpm, consumption and generation is needed, explained Matteo Barsotti, senior consultant at IB and former fleet performance analyst at d’Amico Shipping Group.

IB’s data collector

When setting up a fleet remote control centre, the first step is to establish a data collector. “This is responsible for automatically collecting the data onboard without any human intervention,” Mr Barsotti explained. IB’s InfoSHIP data collector is pictured on the right.

According to Mr Barsotti, there are three goals of a fleet control centre, including compliance with emissions regulations and to meet charter party requirements, assessment to improve performance and to optimise operations, and knowledge for decision support.

IB recently launched its own Fleet Operations Remote Control Centre (FORCE) to help shipping companies monitor and improve fleet performance.  The control centre gathers and visualises fleet data in real-time with the ultimate goal of bringing the fleet back to the office to overcome hurdles of planned maintenance, Giampiero Soncini, CEO of IB Marine explained during the webinar.

FORCE collects data from onboard vessels and sends it directly to shore where IB’s web-based software suite InfoSHIP uses machine learning algorithms to analyse vessel and fleet performance. Factors such as weather, route and trim optimisation are analysed and knowledge is generated for decision support. Data is provided with a 5 second frequency.

To avoid information overload, the InfoSHIP system has been trained to only bring attention to items that require intervention. This means that information is only received by the operators when action is required, for example to alert to an essential hull or propeller cleaning based on cost estimates with or without intervention. Data is measured directly by the system and any incorrect or anomalous data is highlighted.

According to Mr Soncini, the system is capable of recording around 17,000 readings a day. Cruise vessels currently have between 900 and 2,000 data points that are analysed and turned into actionable insights to improve fuel performance, environmental efficiency and help manage maintenance schedules.

Approximately 3-6 months are required from installation for the system to learn the behaviour of the vessel. Historical data can also be implemented to help the system better understand vessel performance.

The system is customisable for each ship or fleet and user.

The company is developing a number of partnerships, including with Inmarsat and Verifavia to help obtain more data for greater analysis and insight.

Data transfer is secure and compliant with all cybersecurity rules according to Caterina Cerrini. IB recently set up a dedicated department for IT cybersecurity staff to further boost developments towards security efforts.

To find out more about fleet remote control centres, watch Digital Ship & VPO’s webinar here.