• Date: Feb 2016
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Azurtane

It is said that what gets measured, gets done. One of the keys to unlocking the benefits of green ship technologies is the provision of accurate, timely and cost-effective data that is translated into knowledge, intelligence and decision protocols for the charterer, owner, client and operator. This affects ships' efficiency, corporate emissions reporting and loss control. In addition Port State Control, nations and flag states have specific interests in the operation and compliance of shipping in their jurisdictions. Further, the Maritime Environment Protection Committee (IMO), the Conference of Parties (UN FCCC) and environmental bodies world-wide would have interests in accurate data to inform emission credits, impacts and climate models.

Azurtane (www.azurtane.com) is an integrator of shipboard data gathering technology and knowledge outcomes and has a passion for enabling the gathering of that data, accurately and efficiently, and then turning that into actionable knowledge. Since those data are gathered on an increasing number of moving platforms, we need an efficient world-wide mechanism for gathering, transporting, interpreting and actioning that data promptly - Inmarsat provides not only the "pipeline" from ship to shore, but also some of the protocols for making sense of an increasing demand for data.

Technology

With the formation of emission control areas (ECAs), upcoming limit changes on NOx emission, and IMO / EU MRV intentions of reducing marine sources of GHG, we have examined the market for devices and systems that address these opportunities.

Our tests with several prototypes show that a smart, "plug-and-play", real-time exhaust gas and condition monitoring system coupled to accurate fuel metering, position and speed data, in addition to aggregating other ship-board data sources, would gain large-scale market acceptance. Such a system will need very low maintenance, be easily retro-fitted, be smart in converting raw data to real information, such as engine efficiency per passengers / freight carried, and be low-cost.

These data can be used on ship, but if that was all then the benefits would be limited. The Azurtane Curator aggregator analyses the incoming information, processes it, and appropriately interprets it to the ships' officers, shore-side owners and operators, and the other parties that have an interest in the specific and aggregated movement and impact of shipping.

Process

The development started with tracking down potential analysers and data-loggers. The analysers needed significant re-engineering to make them robust in a marine environment - that work is still continuing. Accuracy is key, so we are running analysers against standards in various configurations.

We chose to standardise on the serial protocol MODBUS as this provides an easily expandable network over several hundred meters with the ability to add nodes. Cabling is the greatest annoyance on board ship, but we have not found a workable alternative.

Prototype testing was done using a number of platforms before we settled on a LINUX operating system in a purpose designed, Marine approved integrated computer / modem / serial data integrator. Linking to a high quality GPS system is key to provide accurate position, speed and heading information, all of which have a huge impact on subsequent analyses.

The data were then subject to testing by a number of algorithms to initially provide the information the charterer, owner, client and operator, but very quickly it has become apparent that there is much more value here. Using unsupervised learning, we are slowly teasing out the many variables that have an affect on ship performance and impact the local and more global environment.

We have rapidly found that moving large quantities of data around is expensive, so we are identifying the key metrics and data fields that need to go shore-side. With Inmarsat assisting that decision process, we hope to complete a commercial packaged system by the end of this year.

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