Triton, Damen's connected vessel platform, proved its worth even more during Covid by making the largely remote commissioning of vessels possible. But it doesn't stop there. We are already taking the following step. “It's fair to say we've now got artificial intelligence.”
We learned to listen to our ships
Damen Triton is a user-friendly digital platform that collects, analyses, and visualises data from any kind of connected vessel. The platform involves fitting out Damen vessels with 10,000-15,000 sensors that collect a range of data: the amounts of fuel, fresh water and oil stored on board in tanks, for example, or engine performance indicators such as power, RPM or fuel consumption.
This information is relayed to the Connected Vessel Platform. It makes Damen vessels smarter, generating numerous benefits for Damen's clients. The presented information can be used, for example, to optimise operational efficiency, sail the most efficient routes and reduce both fuel consumption and emissions. It can also be used for preventive maintenance, avoiding potentially costly repairs and maximising vessel uptime.
“Hardware in the Loop is based on Honda's ‘Hardware in the loop’ system,” explains Toine Cleophas, Manager Research at Damen Shipyards Group. “It enables us, for instance, to test parts of a vessel with a ‘digital twin’. These days, every component is controlled by a small computer. So you can see if everything is working as it should. Before it is built into the vessel. But you can also find out how to optimise performance.”
The vessel connection also enables remote access, which is used for remote commissioning of on-board systems in the finalizing stage of new build deliveries. It can also be used to update systems during the lifetime of the vessel. Before systems are updated some testing is in place. Hardware in the loop testing ensures the proper and improved performance of a vessel after deployment of an update.
Malfunctions, and wear and tear
“Very little is wrong with the hardware on board ships by the time we get to the completion phase,” adds Marcel Cleijsen, Data Science & Simulations Programme Manager at Damen. “Any errors are often in the control system involving the software. On average, there are about 150 in every newly built vessel. We used to eliminate thirty of them during the trials, but that still leaves 120. These aren't major issues, but they do lead to malfunctions and unnecessary wear and tear. With Triton, we can now tackle all these control errors. The result is a drastic reduction in trial time, shorter commissioning and much less maintenance under guarantee.”
Cleophas: “Thanks to the sensors and the reports from Triton, we are making advances all the time. From ‘what happened’, and ‘why did it happen’, to ‘what will happen’. Thanks to digitalisation, our ships started to talk to us and we learned to listen. Now we are moving ahead to making predictions. For example, instead of using my tug in the German Bight, I am going to use it in and around the port of Scheveningen in the coming months. What impact will the environmental conditions there have and how should I adapt the use of the boat to minimise the risks and optimise performance? We can now test all that in advance and make recommendations.”
“The next step is to programme those insights,” Cleijsen continues. “So we are now working with a form of artificial intelligence. Not only is this incredibly interesting in terms of progress: it also simply earns money. We know that an average tug that burns 150,000 euros worth of fuel a year can save at least 25,000 euros by optimising its sailing behaviour. Every ship has its own optimum but they generally sail too fast. And just imagine the savings in carbon emissions.”
In September 2021, Damen's Triton programme was the first recipient of the inaugural IDC Future of Digital Innovation Awards in the category ‘Performance as a Service’.
“IDC recognizes Damen Shipyards for its work to improve the service of its vessels,” said Mickey North Rizza, Program Vice-President, Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce, IDC. “Damen used innovative techniques to change the vessel monitoring systems, aiding preventive maintenance, avoiding potentially costly repairs and maximising vessel uptime. This digital innovation facilitated zero touch commissioning of remote offshore vessels across all Damen-built vessels and in collaboration with the relevant vendors in the vessel ecosystem.”
A year previously, Damen Triton also won the CIO Magazine Innovation Award 2020 from ICT media.
Our advice to customers is already going beyond that. By establishing a picture of the number of jobs a week, how long they take, fuel consumption, speed and so on, we can also give sound recommendations about whether electrification makes sense. And if so, the optimal size of the battery pack. Or if you have a fleet of tugs, whether it pays to have some electric vessels and some running on methanol, while keeping a few diesel boats. These are also the sort of questions that our customers will be dealing with in the coming years. So it's great that we can already tackle them. The future really is now.”
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