The maritime industry’s digital transformation is in full swing, impacting the smallest vendor to the largest owner, across flag, class and shipyards, right up to the primary regulator.
In terms of early maritime adopters, its clear investment was focused in energy-related sectors, on assets with high degrees of technical complexity. As more mainstream marine companies embrace digital business, they must work to define and align their digital strategy to their business outcomes.
A digital and data strategy cuts across broader industry trends –performance optimisation, regulatory and environmental compliance and cyber security. As we look forward, it is essential that partners and suppliers are aligned with business outcomes.
It is clear that digital revolution will have a major impact on how class delivers its primary services. Our objective is the same as it has always been: setting standards for safety and excellence in design, construction and operation – but the process of how we deliver services will be transformed – from plan review to classification and survey throughout the life of the asset.
A digital-enabled class strategy integrates four key elements to deliver services to clients: connectivity, decision-making, efficiency and unlocking the power of data.
This strategy is underpinned by a simple premise: supporting clients from vessel design through operations and maintenance requires that class develops and deploys a lifecycle viewpoint on data. Data use cannot be limited to operations alone, as lessons learned along the way will likely impact the next generation of vessel designs.
Class is focused on making the connection to client data easier and creating new solutions, while leading the way to digitally-enabled class.
We believe that the class experience – for clients and other stakeholders – will change significantly in the future. Some customers are just beginning to understand what it means to treat data as a valuable asset, while others already appreciate the importance of data and how it can be harnessed.
A customer interface must offer access to everything an owner or operator needs to know – fleet status, statistics, certification, which ships are coming due for survey, as well as comments from the engineering department.
It is clear that a non-integrated approach to digital investment can become problematic. A lifecycle strategy suggests working in partnership with vendors and customers. Leveraging operational data throughout the asset lifecycle requires co-operation, partnership and a different, more connected class model. With a connected approach, we can address asset and performance management, and drive a new level of value for our clients.
This will ultimately allow Class to swap out the calendar-based approach for a data-driven survey process.
The first goal for data-driven survey and maintenance is more reliable and efficient decision making. At our recent annual meeting we held a live demonstration of a surveyor in the field, and a support engineer back in the office, in which the surveyor had a shipboard technical issue.
Using a wearable device, the surveyor could share her view of the problem area with the support engineer. The support engineer could capture an image of the problem area to record it and reference it on the next survey, and share rules, drawings and advice in real time. Soon, this type of technology could become standard practice, much like screen sharing with a virtual help desk.
Digital efficiency efforts are already underway in Class, with e-certificates delivered on-demand in a secure environment. Supporting environmental compliance and maintenance management, during daily shipping company operations, requires reliable automated data capture with replication to the shore for further analysis and interpretation.
Marine-focused Enterprise Resource Planning tools can capture large volumes of transactional data. Moving forward, we can leverage these large data volumes to create actionable vessel management information. To drive more effective decision-making, Class is focussed on delivering business intelligence capabilities across a wide range of applications, from compliance and performance efficiency to health, safety, quality and environmental management.
A Condition-Based Future
Where the future lies – and where ABS is already delivering new services– is in Condition-Based Classification (CBC). This reflects the owner’s focus on improving asset reliability and availability to meet commercial commitments.
CBC uses data and analytics to generate a lifecycle Class and maintenance programme, moving towards planned and ultimately preventative maintenance to help detect anomalies that can help detect unforeseen issues before they happen.
It is a phased journey, first aligning the vessel maintenance cycle and the Class cycle, to replace the calendar-based schedule with a condition-based process.
The next phase entails data gathering from multiple sources and data cleansing to support relevant data analysis. A significant amount of data collected from vessels today is not effectively used. In part, this is because data cleansing tends to unearth data quality problems. However, once these problems are highlighted, we can develop applications to automate filtering data and fixing issues.
The third phase is developing models to enable predictive analytics to support Class decisions based on anomaly detection and machine learning algorithms. Taking advantage of advanced data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence while also understanding the owner’s KPIs, allows us to identify potential operational issues so the owner can reduce the chances of disruptive and expensive failures and repairs, and related lost revenues.
We recently announced a two-year CBC project with the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command; similar projects are advancing with merchant shipping and offshore clients. As it develops, CBC provides an opportunity to not just improve the maintenance and performance cycles, but also make the quantum leap of designing smarter ships in future, using the lifecycle approach to data.
Another Step Forward
The step already taken by Class is into the world of the cloud-based platform, which can be used to build and deliver digital applications. In a world increasingly defined by platforms, our approach is working closely with clients on specific business issues to provide targeted solutions.
Key is the question of data ownership. We are very clear that data belongs to the client and it will be used under licence. Clients should be completely confident they can share data in a protected format – that will be used in an anonymized manner to gain insights into safety, and other trends – to benefit all industry stakeholders. It is not a case of ‘give us all your data and we will sell you services’. We don’t think the role of Class is to be the ‘Maritime Amazon’.
Digital-enabled class will be more effective, efficient, informed and targeted. Working in this way means Class can adapt to meet industry needs and expectations as they evolve –and use the digital transformation we have undergone–to predict and anticipate those needs as well.