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ClassNK to introduce ship maintenance software

ClassNK, IHI Marine United (IHIMU), Diesel United (DU) and IBM Japan have announced that they will jointly develop a ship maintenance management system, with the aim of helping to reduce ship lifecycle costs.

The jointly developed system, which will make use of condition monitoring sensor technology and data analysis systems, will be offered by ClassNK as a cloud-based service to shipowners, managers and operators from June 2013.

From April to July 2012, ClassNK, IHIMU and IBM Japan carried out a joint research project to investigate methods for the early detection of machinery abnormalities.

Making use of ship machinery performance data provided by the IHIMU Group, ClassNK and its partners analysed how machinery performance changed in the situations where malfunctions occurred.

This process was made possible by new data analysis technology developed by IBM Research in Tokyo which can automatically identify hidden dependencies between operational parameters and identify sensor anomalies, allowing noise and false positives to be automatically removed from the sensor data.

When research confirmed that the new technology can effectively analyse the data from sensors connected to onboard machinery, ClassNK began working to adapt the system for use in the maritime industry.

ClassNK’s new ship maintenance management system will build on the technology used in IHIMU’s ADMAX shipboard management software, which is already in use on more than 700 vessels, and IBM’s Maximo asset management software system.

The IBM Maximo Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system is already used in power generation, manufacturing, real estate and other industries to manage maintenance and reduce the lifecycle costs of machinery and other capital intensive assets.

The system itself will make use of IBM’s cloud service to ensure the availability of maintenance information anywhere in the world.

In order to efficiently record maintenance data onboard ships, even when internet access is not available, IBM will also jointly develop a mobile Enterprise Asset Management application for the new management software, using its Worklight mobile application platform.

This mobile architecture aims to allow maintenance data to be recorded onboard and accessed by managers or owners from anywhere in the world via mobile devices.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the sensor data analysis technology the new system will also be verified on existing bulk carriers, oil tankers, and container carriers equipped with DU’s Lifecycle Administrator (LC-A) system, a sensor based system for condition based and preventive maintenance which makes use of sensor data to determine the condition of diesel engines and other engine room machinery.

In addition to assessing the effectiveness of the new analysis technology, the tests will also confirm the effect of real ocean conditions and differences between individual ships on the sensor data.

While LC-A requires a specialist to develop an analysis model for each vessel on an individual basis, with IBM’s new technology and extensive testing on actual vessels, ClassNK says that its new maintenance system should minimise the need for a custom built analysis model, increasing the scope of system application and allowing it to be used immediately on almost all vessels.

The goal of the new service is to help owners and managers detect machinery abnormalities at the earliest possible moment and predict where malfunctions are likely to occur, thus allowing them to prevent machinery malfunction and lengthen machinery lifespan, while also reducing lifecycle costs.

This research project is one of more than 100 R&D projects currently being carried out as part of ClassNK’s ‘Practical R&D for Industry’ programme, which unites partners from both inside and outside the maritime community to develop new solutions to the challenges faced by the shipping and shipbuilding industries.

IHIMU, which will soon merge with Universal Shipbuilding under the name Japan Marine United to become Japan’s largest shipbuilder, will use the data and expertise developed as part of this project to improve the ship support service of its lifecycle business, which will be one of the company’s key market segments following the merger.

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    ClassNK recently unveiled its Digital Grand Design to express the pivotal role it expects digital technology to play not only in making the industry more efficient but also in meeting United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a ‘better and more sustainable future for all’ by 2030. Last month, the Society followed through with the first significant step on this 10-year journey, after launching ‘Innovation Endorsement’ as a new certification service for pioneering digital solutions.

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    Digital Grand Design outlines ClassNK’s vision for the blue economy of the future, establishing a roadmap for achieving that vision based on three fundamental policies: improving safety and efficiency by providing advanced classification services, diversifying classification services and expanding their scope, and supporting the realisation of social innovation.

    Aligning with these principles, Innovation Endorsement has been devised to facilitate and encourage promising innovations that utilise data from ships to enhance safety at sea, help preserve the marine environment and promote sustainable development.

    Changing tides

    During its 120-year history, ClassNK’s commitment to ensuring maritime safety and protecting the marine environment has focused on working with traditional key stakeholders such as shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers and vessel operators.

    However, the digital revolution sees the arrival of new players leveraging the data collected on board vessels, as well as fresh collaborations with existing stakeholders to create new value for shipping companies and others in the maritime supply chain. By enabling rapid and accurate performance monitoring and benchmarking, data sharing will dovetail with the emergence of new business models resulting from a shift to more sustainable practices as set out in the UN’s SDGs.

    Some outcomes are already clear. Firstly, data sharing has implications not only for shipyards and shipping lines but for the cargo owners and forwarders relishing the opportunity for greater transparency and accountability. It will also offer a platform for new stakeholders such as digital forwarders and system integrators.

    For ClassNK, the aim is to adjust, in order to serve the needs of a greater variety of players. The resulting response to emerging digitalisation involves a variety of areas like data assurance; technology assurance; anticipating regulatory hurdles; and evaluation.

    Data assurance

    Using data to make better decisions is the fundamental premise of digitalisation. Data collection is already standard practice, with an increasing number of operators investing in upgraded connectivity to send information ashore, either to technical departments, to equipment manufacturers, or to applications providers.

    To succeed, data-collecting systems must be reliable and the data itself needs to meet certain standards – and this relies on an impartial arbiter of data quality. As an independent third party with extensive engineering expertise, ClassNK is ideally positioned to fulfill this role.

    Technology assurance

    The maritime industry’s conservatism when faced with new technologies is especially apparent when it comes to digital innovations, which tend to develop at a fast pace. With new functionalities becoming available in quick succession and a shortage of early adopters, there is little scope for vessel operators to learn from the experience of others – the sector’s preferred approach to technology adoption.

    Here, too, ClassNK can exploit its impartial status by collaborating with providers of innovative technologies to assess and vouch for the quality and function of their solutions. This would increase confidence among shipping companies who may otherwise be wary of introducing digital innovations and help the sector more generally to overcome any misgivings.

    Anticipating regulatory hurdles

    Whenever new technology or approaches are proposed it is imperative that they are verified as fit-for-purpose – especially when safety is at stake. Difficulties arise when a novel solution falls outside existing regulatory frameworks or requires an altogether new testing regime, as this may significantly extend the approval process.

    To accelerate the implementation of new technology, ClassNK is leveraging in-house expertise and links with standards organisations and maritime authorities to establish evaluation methods and contribute to the development of regulations ahead of time.

    ClassNK digital design 2 sep 30 Copy

    Evaluation

    Lastly, there is a need for accurate evaluation founded on engineering principles. To date, ClassNK has inspected and issued approvals for vessels based on its rules for steel ships and related instruments. However, a wider focus is necessary to cope with the assessment needs of new business models and unorthodox collaborations between a broader array of stakeholders.

    ClassNK sees considerable potential in applying the substantial technical knowhow it has accumulated for quantitatively assessing ships and their systems to meet these emerging needs.

    Charting a new course

    To exploit the opportunities described above and respond to the demands that the digital revolution imposes on the maritime industry, ClassNK plans to work closely with the maritime players developing and pioneering the use of new solutions. Establishing a framework for utilising the knowledge gained from this collaboration will accelerate the wider deployment of these technologies across the industry.

    Digital Grand Design therefore marks the beginning of the next phase in ClassNK’s continual evolution, as it steers the industry into uncharted territory shaped by digitalisation and mounting pressure to minimise environmental impact.

    In the digital era, ClassNK is also committed to ensuring that the rules that govern shipping do not obstruct innovation unnecessarily and, where benefits are clear, that they are adjusted to support it.

    This article was originally published on VPO Global.

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