The Internet of Big Things

The Week in Review

Published Oct 5, 2015 10:12 AM by Wendy Laursen

Wärtsilä announced last week that it had signed a maintenance agreement with GasLog to ensure the reliability of operation of GasLog’s seven LNG carriers.
The demand for predictive analytics and advisory services is increasing, says Wärtsilä. Data collected via satellite will allow GasLog to maximize intervals between maintenance periods, streamline logistics for spare part deliveries and ensure that main generating engines are operating optimally, thereby lowering operating costs and minimizing fuel consumption. 

The news follows Wärtsilä’s “huge step” forward in the development of a next generation of service and maintenance technologies - its augmented reality goggles. The goggles use the ship’s satellite communications to deliver audio-visual guidance to onboard engineers from remote experts. 

Tomas Hakala, Vice President, Engine Services at Wärtsilä, says the company is bringing more and more information into asset performance optimization. A cargo ship typically generates around 2.5 gigabytes of data a day, he says, so it is a matter of making sense of the data, probably discarding 90 percent and using the remaining 10 to make educated decisions.

“We are now going into the next level which is lifecycle planning – to be able, Day 1, to pretty much determine what the predicted lifecycle is, what it is going to consume in terms of parts and what it is going to consume in terms of service technicians.”

The Internet of Big Things

A growing range of big data solutions are being developed. “Caterpillar goes beyond the Internet of things to the Internet of big things,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman at the company’s recent annual stockholders meeting.

Earlier this year, Caterpillar Marine announced its own solution with the acquisition of vessel monitoring and data analytics company ESRG Technologies Group. The acquisition included ESRG’s software suite for the remote monitoring and diagnostics of more than 65 onboard systems as well as the expertise to provide meaningful recommendations to shipowners.

Caterpillar is now able to make vessel productivity and equipment recommendations on vessels operating with Cat equipment or with any other competitive power solutions. The solutions are not limited to the engine, but focus on the entire ship as well as all of the operating systems. 

Data Center

ClassNK is also extending its reach into big data. After launching the condition-based maintenance system CMAXS PMS in 2014, the classification society is now looking to integrate it with the ClassNK Data Center. The center will bring together the data collected from CMAXS in secure onshore centers with tightly controlled access. 

Instead of monitoring the condition of just one vessel, the center could enable ship operators to monitor every vessel in an alliance’s fleet. Similarly, an engine manufacturer could monitor the performance of every one of its engines around the world. 

The Three Vs

Lloyd’s Register (LR), in their Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 report, describes a new era of data that is increasingly being seen as beneficial to the industry. “Most definitions of big data include the three Vs, data of high volume, velocity and variety, or information assets that demand cost effective and innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.”

Mining data in the shipping industry will offer new knowledge and added values that we’ve never known before, says LR. “An early recognition of problems can be achieved. Speeding up the simulation time will allow the industry to take faster actions. Asset utilization, employee productivity, customer experience and supply chain logistics will be improved.”

Faster and more capable processors will handle data of high complexity and volume, and data transfer speed will be accelerated with the help of the increasing bandwidth from affordable satellite services. LR predicts that with the integration of 5G, WiFi and new generation satellites there will be transformation everywhere.

“Stakeholders will be able to monitor live audio and high definition or 3D video collected on board. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will support through-life asset management, including the tracking status of cargoes as well as structural and machinery components.” 

The classification society’s predictions are being proven already.

The Internet of Everywhere

In September, Inmarsat unveiled its new machine-to-machine and the Internet of Things strategy – “the Internet of Everywhere.” By strengthening partnerships with strategic resellers, Inmarsat says it is now able to provide customers with bespoke, end-to-end services which enable operational visibility and control of their fixed and mobile assets – anywhere.

The strategy follows the launch of the company’s third satellite in its Global Xpress constellation also in September. Communications have evolved far beyond being simply another cost obligation on owners, says Inmarsat Maritime President, Ronald Spithout. “Communications are now a fundamental driver of efficiency. The capacity resulting from high throughput satellite bandwidth and coverage available via the Global Xpress network will allow Inmarsat to deliver sufficient bandwidth, in a cost effective manner, to handle data flow between ship and shore and vice versa in order to exploit the full potential of big data within the maritime space.”

The satellites’ capabilities allow Inmarsat to build a service layer, called the Inmarsat Gateway, across its network that will deliver value-added solutions to the maritime community, says Spithout. Inmarsat Gateway enables third-party suppliers, such as engine manufacturers or soft-bridge providers, to build applications that interface with the Inmarsat network.

Smart Cargo

CMA CGM announced last week that it has outfitted the Bougainville, its flagship vessel, with next-generation technology that makes it the world’s first container ship with built-in container connectivity. 

The 18,000-TEU vessel is equipped with Traxens technology that enables containers to communicate among themselves and to the ship’s communication infrastructure by using built-in relay antennas that allow even the most deeply hidden container to be connected.

The system collects data such as location, temperature, humidity level, vibrations, impacts, attempted burglary and customs clearance status in real-time. The system can also remotely control and adjust the temperature of refrigerated containers.

The Future of Work

GE believes that the Industrial Internet could add $10 to $15 trillion to global GDP in efficiency gains over the next two decades. In a white paper released last week, GE describes what it calls the “future of work” – the merging of digital and physical technologies. The Future of Work is driven by three interrelated and mutually reinforcing trends:

1. The Industrial Internet, which merges big data with big iron, integrating cloud-based analytics with industrial machinery, resulting in greater efficiency and reduced downtime.

2. Advanced Manufacturing, which weaves together design, product engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution and servicing into one cohesive intelligent system, delivering greater speed and flexibility at lower costs.

3. The Global Brain, the collective intelligence of human beings across the globe integrated by digital communication, resulting in crowdsourcing, open collaboration and a much faster pace of innovation.

The Future is Here

As Tor Svensen, DNV GL Group Executive Vice President, said at a recent conference in Berlin: The connected ship is arriving much quicker than many have anticipated.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.