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Riviera – News Content Hub – Key technology trends transforming … – Riviera Maritime Media

The trends that will impact maritime communications and vessel optimisation in 2023 include LEO and MEO connectivity, remote and real-time monitoring, artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomous shipping
Global maritime trade is being transformed by digitalisation, artificial intelligence and expanding connectivity, enabling cargo and ships to be remotely monitored in real time.
Maritime industries have recovered from the global coronavirus pandemic with requirements for remote operations and rising demand for better crew welfare services.
In 2023, shipowners will need digitalisation and voyage optimisation to comply with IMO’s carbon intensity index (CII) and will use new types of communications to provide greater connectivity to seafarers, charterers and regulators.
There will be pressure to develop sustainable solutions for decarbonisation and to reduce operating expenditure using internet of things (IoT) and applications enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, driven through faster communications at sea and better connectivity for vessels.
But concern is growing over the distraction of navigation officers using mobile phones on ship bridges after evidence from ship accident reports indicates vessels are grounding because crew and marine pilots are using mobile devices for personal communications when they should be concentrating on safe navigation.
Here are the trends in maritime communications and vessel optimisation to prepare for in 2023.
Low-latency connectivity
Geostationary orbiting (GEO) satellites have dominated maritime communications since its inception, especially using very small aperture terminals (VSAT).
With the exception of Iridium’s L-band constellation, most ship communications are over GEO satellites, whether this is C, Ku, Ka or L bands. But in 2023, this will change at an accelerating rate as new low Earth orbit (LEO) networks enter the market and a medium Earth orbit (MEO) constellation is expanded.
Multi-billionaire Elon Musk has entered the maritime communications market with SpaceX’s Starlink mini-satellites providing ultra-low latency connectivity between vessels and shore. These circumnavigate the globe at a similar distance from the surface as the international space station, with much shorter communications distances than GEO satellites.
In Q4 2022, maritime communications providers were starting to offer Starlink to shipping companies and operators of offshore vessels seeking to benefit from lower connectivity latency. More will come in 2023.
Higher in orbit are OneWeb’s satellites, offering latency of just 70 milliseconds (ms) compared with 180 ms of MEO satellites and over 600 ms for communications over geosynchronous orbiting units.
In 2023, there will be more than 650 satellites, including in-orbit spares, enabling OneWeb to offer a full maritime service through multiple distributors. Lower latency is an important factor for using cloud-based services, adopting new digitalisation applications and operating and monitoring autonomous vessels.
SES is advancing its MEO constellation with O3b mPower satellites due to be commissioned in 2023 to provide Gbps of bandwidth for cruise ships, naval flotillas, offshore accommodation, drilling rigs and production platforms.
Inmarsat has also revealed plans to invest in LEO satellites to augment its GEO Global Xpress constellation, which will be expanded and enhanced through the launch of new Ka-band satellites and payloads on satellites in highly elliptical orbits.
Digitalisation for CII compliance
The shipping industry is under pressure to decarbonise in the next decade, to cut emissions of pollutants including carbon. Many have announced their strategies to be carbon-neutral and targets for net zero within 10 or 20 years. In the long term, this will come from switching to low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels and batteries, and introducing efficient newbuilds.
But developing alternative and sustainable fuels is difficult and expensive, and maritime industries may not be able to adopt these new fuels until 2030.
In the shorter term, shipowners need to react to IMO’s new carbon intensity index (CII), which came into force Q4 2022, by improving the efficiency of existing ships through digitalisation and voyage optimisation.
Remote monitoring using onboard sensors, IoT and regular observational reporting enables shipping companies to understand the energy intensity of vessel operations and offer advice to captains to reduce fuel consumption.
Voyages can be optimised to lower ship speeds and use favourable currents and weather patterns to cut emissions while maintaining safe navigation. Analysing data can help owners to demonstrate the impact of operational efficiencies, monitoring fuel consumption and reporting emissions cuts to authorities.
Shipowners who adopt these technologies will be able to go beyond CII and obtain a competitive advantages over those that have not. There are clear benefits in terms of reducing operating expenditure, gaining better charters and improving efficiency on ships.
These technologies and trends will be discussed in depth during Riviera Maritime Media’s upcoming Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week from 24 January 2023.
Smart vessel maintenance
Shipping companies and engine manufacturers are increasingly using AI and machine learning for predictive maintenance on critical equipment on vessels. Engineers can use machine learning and adaptive algorithms to gain advanced insight into performance, condition and outcomes of ship machinery, systems and whole vessels.
These are evolving technologies, with hardware and software elements learning how to mimic human capacity for observing, monitoring, understanding and decision-making.
By combining AI with human expertise, shipowners can identify any operational issues, predict when maintenance is required to prevent breakdowns and provide chief engineers and captains with advice on improving machinery performance.
Owners can reduce operating costs using predictive diagnostics and IoT-based smart maintenance to enable in-time parts availability for optimal maintenance and to facilitate more in-water overhauls to reduce drydocking expenditure.
They can also use real-time data and advanced 3D computer models of ships for digital twins of actual vessels to monitor, diagnose and predict when maintenance is required.
AI and machine learning can also be used to determine how to tackle hull and propulsion fouling.
These technologies can be combined with virtual and augmented reality in eyewear, so onshore engineers can provide real-time information and advice to those maintaining and overhauling machinery on ships.
JIT port arrival
There is a conundrum in the shipping industry that needs to be solved before ships can be truly decarbonised. Ports and terminals work on a different timescale to ships, and charterers have alternative requirements to shipowners.
This is seen regularly with ships sailing at high speed with high emissions between ports, only to be anchored outside the harbour waiting for its slot to load or unload cargo. With many ports and terminals working on a first-come-first-served basis, cargo owners, charterers and ship operators want to get there early, but this leaves ships steaming at full speeds consuming much more fuel than if their voyage was optimised.
There is also evidence ships have taken the quickest route between ports ignoring forecasts of adverse weather, putting the vessel, cargo and seafarers at risk.
Decarbonisation efforts means there is growing need for just-in-time (JIT) port arrivals and better communications between stakeholders in the ship and the ports.
AI is expected to play an increasing role in voyage optimisation and JIT port arrivals. But what is needed is better data exchange, through one universal global platform, and changes in charterparties to optimise routes and arrival at optimal times.
There is evidence 2023 will see more positive strides in improving port-ship validated data exchange and co-ordination by more parties in a ship’s voyage to reap the early benefits of JIT port arrival.
First adopters benefit from autonomous ships
Autonomous ships finally arrived in 2022. The world’s first electric and self-propelled container ship Yara Birkeland departed for its maiden voyage and started regular routes with a small crew, which could be removed relatively soon. It is transporting mineral fertiliser between Porsgrunn and Brevik, Norway and enabling those involved in the project to test remote monitoring and autonomous vessel technologies.
This ship is operated from Maasterlys’ monitoring and operation’s centre in Horten, Norway. Massterly is a joint venture between Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen.
This world first is being replicated by shipping lines conscious of reducing emissions and minimising crewing on other routes, mainly in Norway. Massterly and Kongsberg are currently involved in trials with two new fully electric autonomous cargo ships for Norwegian grocery distributor ASKO.
Marit and Therese will operate with a limited crew of two to four people on board, including captains, during the period of certification, but from then they will be operated under the remote control of an onshore centre run by Massterly.
Other demonstrations have used autonomous navigation technology on tugs to showcase remote control capabilities and test hazard avoidance. These trials will prove technology, enabling them to be applied on larger vessels, including those providing offshore surveys, and merchant ships. For example, Massterly is also assisting Reach Subsea to operate an underwater survey vessel remotely in 2023.
Ocean Infinity has contracted Vard to design and construct a new series of six multipurpose offshore vessels, all of which will be operated from shore and will eventually use green ammonia as fuel.
More autonomous ships are coming this decade to reduce human risks, but there are still questions about whether computers can be better trusted to make the right decisions in all situations. There are also questions over whether autonomous ships will be reliable enough to be operated unmanned across oceans and in congested shipping lanes.
Riviera Maritime Media is holding the Vessel Optimisation Webinar Week, 24-26 January 2023, use this link to access more information and register for these free webinars


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