Marine Technology


Dynamic Systems Analysis

A snapshot from the ProteusDS system shows a simulation of British Columbia's Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry.

Maritime software providers continue to move forward, working to anticipate customer's needs to help them stay compliant and be as efficient as possible when it comes to several everyday tasks.

Victoria, BC-based Helm Operations recently released its fully user-customizable Planned Maintenance product. The product is made up of a suite of applications (apps) that allow customers to purchase only what they need.

The software apps are based on singular workflows and include onboard applications like engine log, wheelhouse, and mate's desk, as well as onshore applications such as maintenance, inspections, dashboard and crew and vessel certifications. All data is easily accessible in a one-screen view that helps crew see the current status of any projects, jobs, and tasks, as well as being able to break data down into individual reports. The software helps customers to stay on top of maintenance issues for both client and industry reporting without sacrificing valuable crew time.

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The software is flexible; routines can be set up with simple drag-and-drop menus. "As a company that buys our software, you're in control," says Rodger Banister, Vice President of Marketing. "You can set up the software yourself to configure to your processes and your ways of doing things. That's quite different from some of the other software companies where you have to tell them what your processes are, then they will go and customize the software for you, which costs you more money, and extends the length of implementation."

All of the applications are web-based, making it easy to work with Helm CONNECT Planned Maintenance, whether personnel are based on a vessel or working on shore. The advantage is, all data can be saved even if there is a loss of connection. A small file is installed on board the vessel in order to save all data locally on individual computers. Then as soon as it finds a connection, it will take the information and update all relevant systems. The software also works on tablets, but, as Banister points out, a lot of tablets out there don't save information locally. "If you're using a tablet, you need to be mindful of having a decent connection to the Internet."

One of the challenges, especially for the workboat industry, is crew adoption of technology. But minimal training is required with Helm CONNECT to get up and running. Since the software has been developed by both software technicians and working marine industry personnel, the company has ensured using the system is as intuitive as possible.

Banister reports that at several trade shows Helm attended this year, people who came to the booth and took part in completing tasks with no prior exposure to the software, were easily able to do so. On the vessels, the technology helps bridge the gap between the boomer generation and millennials, as working with Helm CONNECT is as easy as the push of a button.

First developed for the tug and barge industry, Helm applications are now being sought out by passenger, fishing and research companies, as well as the Harbor docking industry. "There's a large gap between software like ours, which is highly functional for the end user, and the majority of software out there that's not exactly easy to get information in and out of," he says. "And that's the big concern for companies who are thinking about making a change or evolving from a paper-based system."

Performance Tracking

Finnish energy management company Eniram Ltd., recently released two new fuel-saving products specifically for the cruise market and also won the new Lloyd's List Intelligence Big Data award.

Eniram Performance 3.0 is a robust decision-support tool that offers real-time operational guidance by predicting required energy and fuel consumption, taking into consideration a wide range of variables such as wind and currents for each specific voyage.

"Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important," says Kim Stenvall, Senior Product Manager. "It used to be that monitoring of operational efficiency was done post-voyage, for instance, after an incident occurred, and that meant corrective actions were delayed. With Performance TM 3.0, ship operators can get immediate feedback on energy efficiency and performance."

In a hypothetical scenario Stenvall lays out how Performance 3.0 would help the Captain and crew on a cruise vessel. The Performance widget gives clear and easy-to-understand indications of both actual and expected values of fuel consumption in USD for a voyage, both in monetary and Megawatt-hours (MWh) values.

At the beginning of the voyage, the Captain is able to see the total expected fuel consumption for the whole voyage. During the voyage, prevailing weather, fuel cost and engine efficiency, etc., are calculated in real time to give immediate readings to help make the most efficient decisions. The Captain can compare results from current and past voyages in order to save energy, by using the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) screen as a scoreboard to see trends.

The KPI screen starts with a high-level KPI, namely the total fuel consumption of the vessel, which is then broken down to specific energy consumers like propulsion and service power. Service power is, for instance, further split down to hotel, machinery and HVAC. Deviations can be variable, for instance, an engine problem or the fact that the ship is operating at a higher speed than it needs to. KPI comparisons can be performed 24/7, regardless of operational area or season.

Performance 3.0 was an integral part of the design of Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' 18-deck, 168,666-gt state-of-the-art cruise ship. The software is used to holistically optimize ship energy management in addition to managing trim and speed as part of an industry-first ship-wide energy management system (EMS).

"Performance 3.0 is not just giving out dummy data, reporting that all voyages are equal and passively comparing some inserted threshold values to each other," says Stenvall. "The system actually takes into account that each voyage is different, normalizes them, and is therefore able to assess these different voyages in an apples-to-apples comparison."

Another new Eniram solution is called Eniram Fleet Route KPIs, designed to provide additional energy efficiency optimization for cruise vessels. Generally, the system enables onshore personnel to identify savings in key areas by flagging performance deviations and monitoring specific performance parameters. The Route KPI module is a post-analysis tool that helps the crew and onshore personnel to improve routing.

Cruise vessels typically run short legs and sail the same voyages repeatedly, often, for example, going through shallow waters and ECA zones, which adds more complexity, therefore, routing advice can help optimize any given leg. When the crew takes action, for instance in avoiding ECA zones and squat areas based on KPIs, they will see – if they've been optimizing that leg correctly – their KPIs improving.

Vessel routing performance can be benchmarked against other industry vessels and this is what the KPI concept is based on. After the leg has been sailed, Eniram Fleet runs the simulation and KPIs for the selected route are given. Comparing against other routes in the industry, through KPI numbers, gives realistic feedback on the performance.

The Route KPIs are based on ranking from 1-10 (lower ranking is better). Ranking indicates the position in the industry. For example 'cost ranking 2' means the voyage leg was sailed within 20 percent of the best in the industry. A cost-efficient routing is a balance of the components that can include, for example, current, mean wind, distance over ground, ECA-areas, distance inside MARPOL areas and squat.

"According to our studies, vessels are too often spending extra money on simple routing mistakes," says Leo Laukkanen, Product Manager. "Fleet Route KPIs reveal the weaknesses, and customers can gain significant savings just by slightly adjusting their routing and breaking existing habits."

Fine Tuning

Victoria, BC-based software company Dynamic Systems Analysis, Ltd. (DSA) provides consulting services and software for the marine, offshore and subsea sectors. Two of DSA's software programs provide modeling of mechanical systems in the ocean and marine environments that can help workers stay safe and prevent equipment from breaking.

ShipMo3D can be used to simulate a floating structure's overall motion response in either the frequency or time domains. Users input hull geometry using hull lines or mesh to solve the wave radiation and diffraction effects as well as include the effect of appendages such as bilge keels and propellers, etc.

ShipMo3D is often used by naval architects as a design tool to evaluate how a ship moves around in the ocean. A user can tweak the shape of the hull and then see how that affects seakeeping performance. ShipMo3D also includes a data export tool for exporting hydrodynamic parameters into ProteusDS to simulate large floating or submerged structures as a part of complex moored systems.

ProteusDS is a multi-body time-domain simulation package that enables numerical analysis of marine, offshore and subsea structures and technologies. The simulation tool makes use of advanced hydrodynamic and finite-element models to achieve accurate results. Clients can license the software or work directly with DSA.

Ryan Nicoll, Director of Engineering explains that ProteusDS is like a very complicated set of building blocks used for modeling mooring lines and rigid bodies of various sizes. For instance, in a scenario with a crane on a barge that suspends a piece of equipment over the water, the ProteusDS® simulation package can determine wind loads on the crane and equipment that will affect the roll of the entire barge structure. Or if the crane needs to submerge a piece of equipment into the water, the software can simulate the current drag and ocean wave loads to determine the global response of the barge and crane system together.

Both software systems can model and analyze different scenarios, though ShipMo3D is needed for ships in early stage design, as well as completed vessels and other large structures. "Diffraction is how the waves bend around these large structures which changes the wave field, putting additional forces on the structure. And that affects motion," says Nicoll. "That's what the software does. You can put in the hull lines for your specific shape and it does all these calculations to see how it will move."

For the oceanographic industry, ProteusDS can, for instance, assess a single-point mooring on a floating buoy that works to measure wave height and wind speed. The average ocean depth is 4,000 meters, and mooring lines often need to be about one and a half time's that says Nicoll. When designing this type of buoy, engineers will want to know what the dynamic loads are because these loads are what will govern the strength requirements of the mooring.

"Ocean engineering is very challenging because there are so many different kinds of problems that we face," he says. "That's why I consider ProteusDS a sort of Swiss Army knife for figuring out what each problem's requirements are."

Ship and Crew Management

ABS Nautical Systems, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is preparing to launch a new version of their flagship NS Enterprise software in late 2015. NS Enterprise is an integrated suite of modules for a variety of operational and technical management of ships. The system is flexible and can be tailored to meet the requirement of large and small operators.

The maintenance manager is one of the original core modules. Other modules include purchasing/supply chain management, which integrates with inventory management, an HSQE (health, safety, quality, and environment) module that is focused on helping shipowners with regulatory compliance, as well as a crew management module that integrates with the payroll module.

The document management system is also integrated with the HSQE module. All the software modules can be accessed through one system with a user-friendly interface. When an individual user logs in, all they see is their own desktop, with a variety of dashboards that present them with the information they need to do their daily tasks, and nothing else.

In the case of HSQE, it can be challenging when a ship sails all over the world, to bring information together in one place. "Trying to control documents that have to be approved and electronically distributed to a variety of people in a company can be a huge challenge for shipping companies," says John Hathaway, Director of Product Development. "So the HSQE module is where we bring all that information together."

Additionally, in terms of compliance, the crew management module keeps track of who's who on the crewing team, when they're scheduled to go to a vessel, their training, qualifications and what their certifications are and how those compare with the requirements for the vessel each person will be working on. ABS also has a team whose responsibility it is to stay on top of the latest regulatory requirements so that any new software upgrades related to compliance can be done as quickly as possible so the customer doesn't have to play catch up.

NS Enterprise also offers Hull Manager software with a 3D capability for more comprehensive asset lifecycle management. The tool helps to provide critical information pertaining to the soundness of a ship in order to ensure its safe operation and to help crew proactively take care of any problems before they become dangerous or expensive to fix. Similarly, the dry dock module is crucial for safety, operational efficiency and regulatory requirements. "The event can cost anywhere from a half a million to $10 million, so it's important to have a tool to manage those kinds of expensive projects," says Hathaway.

Customers looking to obtain software don't have to purchase the entire NS Enterprise program. "Each module can function on its own," explains Hathaway, "but the real power of the system is the more modules you're using, the more information you're capturing which can be pulled together to solve a number of different business problems."

While Internet usage on vessels can, at times, be spotty, and services can be expensive, NS Enterprise solves the problem by replicating (synchronizing) information via small messages that are sent and received over email in order to keep communication costs down. This allows parties at sea and on shore to view the same information as closely as possible in time during data synchronization.

In addition, the software can also be used via a cloud-based (web interface) solution. Some customers will opt to have the software installed in an office location, particularly if they have an in-house IT department. Other customers will use the web-based version so they don't have to hire additional staff to man IT operations.

Currently, ABS is working on a mobile application for approving documents. "Executives and superintendents travel frequently and they want to be able to do these approvals from a phone or tablet," says Hathaway. "We have a prototype of that application running now and the first version, that will be field-tested, will be out during the first quarter of 2016."

NS Enterprise version 6.4, coming out in December, will include new improved crew management, crew scheduling, travel and compliance features as well as improvements for budget visibility. And to head-off the looming Subchapter M regulations coming into effect in February 2016 for towing operators and smaller offshore vessels, ABS is already in the midst of building a Subchapter M-specific module.

"A lot of these operators have never had to deal with these kind of heavy-weight compliance requirements," explains Hathaway. "So we want to make sure we have a solution that's available to help them meet this challenge. NS Core will have the same look and feel as NS Enterprise, but with simplified features."

While ensuring user-friendliness is the prime directive of software, Hathaway says it's also important to give customers some training so they understand the right way to deploy NS Enterprise that matches their unique business challenges. "It's not just about implementing the software and getting it up and running but implementing it properly so that the customers will be successful. That's a big focus for us."

Helm Software

This screen from Helm CONNECT Planned Maintenance allows an operator to see a summary of his entire fleet on screen with all open and assigned action items, as well as readings.


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