All in a Day’s Walk

Edited by Joseph Keefe

Just over the horizon, a new ‘Integration Strategy’ promises offshore safety and efficiencies. Kongsberg’s Walk-to-Work technology is just the beginning. 

Maritime technology has come on in leaps and bounds since the turn of the century. We have the technology to keep an offshore support vessel on station within a 0.5-meter radius, even in the most severe weather conditions and sea states. We have the technology to manage power output, and control drives and thrusters to the ‘nth’ degree, providing safety and reliability for all ship handling operations. And we have the technology to deliver gigabytes of data to shore without paying for a helicopter or a mid-ocean drop off of hard drives or DVDs. 
So, what’s next? Arguably, the ‘big’ topic is unmanned vessels. And while Norway headquartered maritime technology firm Kongsberg Maritime is involved in this future looking development through initiatives like AUTOSEA and the October opening of the world’s first test bed for autonomous vessels, it also has its sights set on something more in the ‘now’.
At the Offshore North Seas (ONS) exhibition in Stavanger this Summer, Kongsberg Maritime announced that it had implemented a new strategy to integrate its energy, handling and operational technology solutions to create a new portfolio of ‘Integrated Vessel Concepts.’ Through this will come a new integrated platform to enable solutions that network seamlessly to provide tangible benefits with efficient operations on vessels and ashore. 
According to Srinivas Tati, VP Business Development at Kongsberg Maritime, this is the next step in their Full Picture strategy, which already sees the company offering systems for all areas of a vessel’s operations. “By making our disparate systems more interoperable, amazing operational efficiencies can be achieved. Integration can deliver significant fuel savings. It can streamline specific vessel operations, enabling more work to be carried out in a day. It can even generate power for battery banks that can be used for primary and auxiliary operations,” he says.
Integrated vessel concepts are designed to meet the current and future demands of customers in the seaborne, offshore and marine marketplaces. Each is tailored for specific vessel types, combining separate systems to enhance day-to-day performance and long-term asset management. The concepts utilize distributed technology platform architecture, unified into a holistic system working as one across the energy, handling and operational solutions. This provides a mode-based operational environment that collects information, delivers analysis and empowers proof-enabled decision-making.
The top-line drivers, according to Tati are, “cost savings and improved vessel and fleet efficiency, safety, life-cycle management, reliability and availability with complete benefits on each, while strengthening decision making capabilities and enabling the continual optimization of energy use.” 
Unified solutions are also intended to enhance on-shore expertise that can steer on-board activity, feeding into planning, monitoring and controlling complex operations, and making real-time decisions in close collaboration with crew, while also providing a layer for analysis. This improves performance, efficiency and productivity.
Essentially, Integration is a network and service layer that supports greater distributed control and monitoring functions across diverse equipment on board a vessel. Such an integrated network provides enhanced fleet management, enabled by increased connectivity, data capture and analysis in addition to continual control and measurement, with information now available on a single integrated platform supporting efficient planning, execution and decision making. Essentially, integration delivers a unified platform helping better resource utilization, sharing and task management.
Energy, Handling, Operations
“Through integration, energy management becomes energy control,” says Tati. Kongsberg has developed new technical energy solutions that it says work in harmony with dynamic operation environments to monitor, manage and optimize energy use. “The result in addition to optimal energy utilization is reduced impact of maritime operations on the environments and a move towards maintenance free solutions, for all vessels and all power sources, from conventional fuels to battery, hybrid and LNG,” he adds.
Other core technology aspects include advanced handling solutions with integrated control and energy management. Kongsberg’s truly automated heave compensating, high precision and energy efficient handling solutions support better productivity, reduce costs and improve safety and security for the most demanding handling tasks. Integrated with energy systems, automation and dynamic positioning, maritime handling operations may become even safer and more cost effective.
Handling solutions within the Integration Strategy are designed with the unique principles of utilizing energy from rotating equipment to optimize and regenerate power that reduces energy utilization. The integration of automation with the dynamics of the vessel operations enhances productivity and reduces human error.
Though purposely designed for a broad range of vessel types and customizable to specific requirements, several specific new systems have already been developed for use within Kongsberg’s Integrated Vessel Concepts. These include for the first time, the vessel dynamics integrated into the power management layer, providing a new concept for Energy Control. Integrating all elements of the power plant to the energy control layer and distributing control functions closer to the consumers with fast acting sensors, redefines, according to the company, the definition of efficiency.
Dynamic Load prediction (DLP) – a new Dynamic Positioning (DP) system to predict power usage for a vessel’s thrusters, Dynamic Inertia Control (DIC) and Dynamic Supervision & Control (DSC) are some of the new features enhancing energy control for DP operations. Solutions for power plant optimization include power regeneration using permanent magnetic electric motors for rotating equipment and enhanced battery solutions for peak shaving and storage. Examples include systems for vessels with large rotating equipment like winches and electric gangways, which are designed to convert motion into power.
The Morning Commute
The first set of vessels types to receive Integrated Vessel Concept configurations cover a wide spectrum of maritime operations with vessel types including workboats such as Inspection Maintenance & Repair (IMR) vessels, Research vessels, Small Scale LNG, Superyachts, Service Operation Vessels (SOV), Trawlers and Wind Farm Support tonnage.
The SOV is a strong example of the possibilities of integration and is especially relevant due to its recent recognition by Lloyd’s Register’s (LR). The classification society’s range of class notations for offshore support vessels has recently expanded with the addition of two new vessel types joining the ranks alongside Anchor handler, Cable laying vessel and Diving support vessel. In addition to the new Enhanced Weather Protection (EWP) notation, a new special feature notation has been established for ‘Walk-to-Work’ – W2W. According to LR, W2W can be assigned where the vessel’s personnel transfer system is included in the class notation. These systems can be found aboard SOVs, where a gangway enables workers to walk onto a maritime structure. 
“The core SOV vessel application is offshore wind farm maintenance but they are increasingly seeing action in the offshore oil & gas sector also. This puts them firmly in the sights of our integration strategy,” explains Tati. “The integrated W2W vessel concept really shows how we are moving outside of our traditional ‘hydraulic’ systems approach by encompassing a stronger focus on electrical and mechanical aspects.”
Tati is referring to a new design for the W2W gangway on SOV vessels (called ‘K-Walk’) that is already in place in the company’s portfolio for retrofit and newbuild vessels. In the design, hydraulics are replaced by electric motors which in terms of reliability and maintenance are much more desirable than the hydraulics normally used in such structure on deck. The motors are deeply integrated with the power management system, which in turn is fully connected to the power generation systems on board – the engines and or batteries. This, says Tati, opens up a very interesting possibility. 
“We can make power on board,” he says. “The electric motors can harness the energy of the vessel and mechanical movements to create ‘free’ energy for hybrid or even fully electric power configurations, which are now becoming more viable due to less expensive batteries and more sophisticated power management. We’re not just talking about the W2W gangway, either. We’re working on producing our own deck winches with electric motors fitted to capture the normally wasted energy of rotation. In fact, anything that rotates creates energy and we want to give it back to the shipowner. But it’s only possible when everything is connected back to the power management system, and this is where we are going with integration.”
Joining Forces
To facilitate Integrated Vessel Concepts, Kongsberg is further developing its scope of supply to the global shipbuilding industry with focus on electrical systems including switchboards and drives. Electrical systems will be fully integrated with on board technology, ensuring optimal power consumption for dynamic vessel operations. With integration between disparate systems, distributed power management, data sharing on board and ashore can be significantly improved, facilitating enhanced decision making across the operational chain.
Kongsberg is actively developing existing partnerships and creating new partnerships with industry leaders to facilitate its new energy and engineering innovations. Since the launch of its integration strategy in August, Kongsberg has already secured partnerships with Siemens on Variable Frequency Drives and Schneider Electric for switchboards and related systems for offshore and maritime vessels. The company’s work in EIT projects forms the basis of its expanded energy focused product line, which will be further developed and integrated with more recognizable Kongsberg technology for automation and operations under the Integration Strategy.
“Our approach to integration goes deep. We have studied in-depth how different vessels operate to understand how the unification of on board technologies can change how we think about and conduct maritime operations at every level,” concludes Tati.
(As published in the November 2016 edition of Marine News)
Marine News Magazine, page 46,  Nov 2016

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Marine News is the premier magazine of the North American Inland, coastal and Offshore workboat markets.