Technology Archives - Kemplon Engineering

Developments in Unmanned Ship Technology

By | Article, Marine News, Technology | No Comments

Groundbreaking Development in the Making

Unmanned ships will start operating in the next ten to fifteen years says Bjorn Age Hjollo, the e-Navigation project manager of mapping services company NAVTOR. The company is representing the maritime industry in the EU-funded ENABLE project for checking autonomous vessels for safety.

 

Unmanned Ships will Operate with Varying Degrees of Human Intervention
Image Courtesy of NorthBySouthBaranof at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bridge_of_the_RV_Sikuliaq.jpg

Back in May 2013 at the Shipping Industry Conference in London, audience and even some co-panelists wrote off Oskar Levander’s suggestion of unmanned ships soon becoming a reality. The Vice President of Innovation at Marine Rolls-Royce is used to such reactions on his favorite topic.

The world seems to have come a long way from May 2013. Just to put things in perspective, over 90% of the volume of world’s goods are transported via ships. Anything that affects the health of shipping therefore has global ramifications.

Other similar projects include Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean Team’s Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) and the Hronn unmanned vessel, a partnership between the UK-based Automated Ships and Norway-based Kongsberg.

In October 2016, the Norwegian Maritime Authority and Norway’s Coastal Administration opened near Trondheimsfjord, northern Norway the world’s first area dedicated to autonomous ships. The Danish Maritime Authority is partnering with the Technical University of Denmark for a similar objective.

While unmanned ships offer numerous cost and environmental advantages, there are several concerns on how safe they are. Then again, these are exposed to hacking by cyber hackers. And the million dollar investments they require beg asking whether the cost savings are worth the benefit.

The Different Projects for Developing Unmanned Vessels

Before moving ahead, we must mention the Level of Autonomy because, in the general perception, autonomous ships operate with artificial intelligence and without human contribution. This is not entirely true.

 

Engine Rooms of Unmanned Ships will Use Minimal Number of Humans
Image Courtesy of Clipper (Assumed) at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DSCF0443.JPG

Leading classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) has defined six levels of autonomy from AL 1 to AL 6. Only AL 6 is a completely autonomous ship capable of operating with no onboard crew at all.

Originally designed to prove, verify, and validate the safety of autonomous cars, ENABLE branched out to doing the same for autonomous ships. ENABLE will be operational till 2019 with special focus on the remote bridge or the shore-based bridge concept.

Car makers have already made substantial developments in this regard. NAVTOR is working with research institutes and car makers to test the validity of the software used for the remote bridge concept.

Secure data transmission is a huge challenge for such vessels. Other partners in the ENABLE project include IBM, Renault, Philips, Siemens, Philips Medical Systems, and Tieto.

 

 

Manned Ships May Soon be a Thing of the Past
Image Courtesy of the United Kingdom Government at http://www.iwm.org.uk/
Retrieved From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Officers_on_the_bridge.jpg

Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean Team’s Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) is a €6.6 million project to design unmanned ships by building the technological and regulatory readiness for commercial operations of the first demonstrator of such a vessel.

AAWA has pooled the intellect of ship designers, universities, classification societies, and shipbuilders to assess the technical, regulatory, social, economical, and legal factors necessary to build such a ship. Currently, it is in the second phase and will be complete by end-2017.

Rolls-Royce has the experience to coordinate multi-disciplinary teams to design complicated technologies. The company also has the technical capacity for vessel design, power and propulsion equipment, and integration of complex systems, all necessary for making unmanned ships a reality.

Testing and validation of large ships requires a dedicated maritime area. The Norwegian Maritime Authority and Norway’s Coastal Administration opened the world’s first area dedicated to autonomous ships near Trondheimsfjord, northern Norway in October 2016.

UK-based Automated Ships and Norway-based Kongsberg are looking to build the Hronn, the world’s first unmanned and fully automated vessel for offshore operations. It will be designed for scientific industry, offshore energy, and fish-farming and will utilize the Trondheimsfjord area for trials.

Pros, Cons, & Challenges

The technology for autonomous ships is moving ahead steadily. Experts believe the global maritime community will view it seriously only when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) established guidelines for their operation in international waters.

As yet, the IMO has not done so. The Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) in the UK has however defined a code of conduct for surface maritime autonomous systems and will soon come out with a code of practice.

 

Bridge of a Cruise Ship that Allows 360-Degree View
Image Courtesy of Uploader at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sapphire_Princess_Humongous_Ship_III.jpg

Shipowners will favor unmanned ships on account of the cost and environment advantage they have to offer. Regulators, insurance operators, and labor unions are not that happy.

According to industry consultant Moore Stephens LLP, crew cost makes up 44% of the total, the single largest expense. Rolls-Royce believes the era of inexpensive shipping is coming to an end as oil prices will pick up after a prolonged slump.

And they have. In November 2016, member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed to cut oil productions in a bid to halt the fall and fall of global crude oil prices. Prices shot up immediately.

Even while OPEC members were struggling to make the decision on production cuts, in October 2016 to be precise, the World Bank had raised the 2017 estimate for crude oil prices from $53 per barrel to $55 per barrel.

Ships that do not carry seafarers are devoid of seafarer facilities such as accommodation, water storage, heating, air conditioning, and waste treatment apparatus. Such ships can be 5% lighter and burn 12-15% less fuel.

Rolls-Royce intends to make such ships use the most eco-friendly fuels. This will offset the cost needed to comply with the increasingly exacting environment norms of the near future. These ships will also have solar and wind power assistance while boasting of hulls that create minimum drag.

Navigation in open seas is not a great challenge. We already have specialist cameras that can provide better visuals than humans during days, nights, and fogs. Not to mention the navigational capacity added by RADARs and SONARs.

But are the cost and expense worth the benefits? Taking 44% as the crew cost, large container ships spend about $3,299 per day. The investment into unmanned ships runs into millions of dollars.

Cyber security remains critical for the success of unmanned ships for these can be misguided by hackers – a third party, a company employee, or an inadvertent threat. The use of military grade technology is a possible but highly exorbitant solution.

Then again, there are serious concerns about the number of seafarer jobs such ships will cut. All disruptive technologies generate the job loss bogey the way computers did back in the 1970s. In recent times, 3D Printing has partly created this job-loss ogre.

It is for this reason that the International Transport Workers Federation is opposing autonomous vessels. Over the long term however such technologies create more jobs than they cut. And the unmanned ships technology is decades away from being disruptive.

According to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty AG, most maritime accidents are a result of human errors. Theoretically, unmanned ships would be free of such accidents. But that is only half the story.

Often, it is the incompatibility between humans and technology that causes accidents. The makers of unmanned ships will have to take pains to ensure there is absolutely no incompatibility between diverse disciplines and technologies that go into making autonomous vessels.

And navigating unmanned ships in and near ports would be impossible considering the immense complexity involved. Similarly, ships carrying hazardous cargo will have to be manned. And we will require humans at ports to load, unload, repair, and maintain ships.

Finally

Technology is here to stay. Innovations create a set of critics and a group of admirers. And there are the fence sitters in between. It is only after the technology demonstrates its utility, safety, and reliability that it becomes widely acceptable. As yet, unmanned ships are far from this mark.

Visit our blog for more on cutting edge advances in the shipping industry.

But if you are interested in astounding marine fabrication services, marine pipe fitting, and large scale custom metal fabrication, visit Kemplon Engineering.

CyClaDes & the Human Centered Design (HCD) of Ships

By | Article, Marine News, Technology | No Comments

Ship Design with a Human Touch

Like fire, technology is a good servant but a bad master. Technology can create its own set of issues and challenges. And sometimes excessive reliance on technology while ignoring instincts can and has caused many a disaster in the maritime world and beyond.

 

The Bridge of a Ship with Controls & Display Systems
Image Courtesy of NorthBy SouthBaranof at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bridge_of_the_RV_Sikuliaq.jpg

CyClaDes stands for Crew-Centered Design and Operation of Ships and Ship Systems. It seeks to integrate the human element into the design and operational lifecycle of ships. Human Centered Design (HCD) places the human perspective at the focal point during all design stages.

The idea behind CyClaDes was to bring together all professionals associated with ship design viz. shipyard personnel, suppliers, operators, and the seafarer community. CyClaDes has already established an e-learning avenue that offers precious guidelines for shipyards, designers, and shipowners

Funded by the European Union (EU) and led by the German classification society Germanischer Lloyd, the €4.2 million CyClaDes project includes fourteen partners – classification societies and manufacturers – from nine countries. It started in October 2012 and was complete in September 2015.

In over a year however, HCD has remained largely unknown to the designers and operators of ships and onboard equipment. It was with the objective to raise awareness of HCD that the Nautical Institute presented the second edition of the Improving Ship Operational Design booklet in late-2016.

Read More

The Impact of Colossal Container Ships: Implications & Limitations of the Size Race

By | Article, Marine News, Technology | No Comments

^ Delwaide Dock at the Port of Antwerp
Image Courtesy of Arminius from nl at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Zicht_op_het_Delwaidedok.jpg

How Big is Too Big?

Perhaps it is their length that makes them look mammoth. Or the endless rows of stacked containers. Be as it may, latest generation container ships carry over 19,000 containers of twenty foot equivalent (TEU) size. And by the looks of it, they are about to get bigger.

MSC Oscar is the largest-capacity container vessel in the world at present with a 19,224 TEU capacity. It captured the top spot in January 2015 after ending the short, two-month reign of the 19,000 TEU CSCL Globe. We may well see 21,000 TEU capacity ships by 2017.

Container ships are the veritable work horses of the global economy when it comes to transporting consumer goods. Please note, shipping carries 90% of the globally traded merchandise. Read More

The Impact of Colossal Container Ships: General Overview

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

MSC Oscar is the World’s Largest Container Ship with 19,224TEU Capacity
Image Courtesy of Kees Torn at https://www.flickr.com/photos/68359921@N08/16520366958/
Retrieved From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MSC_Oscar_(ship,_2014)_002.jpg

Exponential Expansion

Malcolm McLean was one frustrated man in 1937. The owner of a North Carolina trucking company, he grew wary of the process of loading ships with cargo from trucks – it took ages. It occurred to him that cranes could load truck trailers directly onto ships.

But it would be another nineteen years before McLean could put his idea into practice and build the very first container ship, the Ideal X. She was a converted tanker that could carry 58 containers. Only 58 containers by today’s standards. From then on, there was no turning back.

MSC Oscar is the largest container ship of the day and can carry 19,224 twenty foot equivalent (TEU) containers. The size of container ships has expanded faster than that of any other ship type. Read More

Welding @ Ship in Dry Dock Image Courtesy of bikeriderlondon at http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-145222345/stock-photo-welder-working-on-side-of-ship-in-dry-dock.html?src=F267LprdThrE0tMxNfx_dQ-1-30

Top Recent Developments in Arc Welding

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

Necessity, the Mother of Evolution & Revolution

Living as we are in the age of rapid technological advance, things are changing at breakneck speeds. And the transformation affects all walks of life. Since ages, change has been the only imperishable entity. Of late however, it has gathered unprecedented momentum.

Welding is among the most popular joining processes, highly valued across the rank and file of the metal industry as it connects materials at the molecular level with joint strength equivalent to that of the constituent materials. Read More

Top Recent Developments in Welding

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

Welding is a Fundamental Technology – Image Courtesy of the United States Air Force Retrieved From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GMAW.welding.af.ncs.jpg

Radically Shifting Welding Landscape

Welding is a fundamental technology without which the manufacturing industry cannot operate at the current levels of sophistication. Properties of weld joints, rather than those of the welded materials, often determine the performance of a structure.

Like most other technologies, welding is steadily evolving. Research has significantly altered the landscape of welding with transitions over the past two decades being particularly noteworthy. Read More

shutterstock-165341816

Skilled Labor in the U.S. Shipping Industry

By | Events, Technology | No Comments

^ Mentors are a Priceless Asset for Rookie Welders

Image Courtesy of Monkey Business Images at http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-165341816/stock-photo-engineer-teaching-apprentice-to-use-tig-welding-machine.html?src=6um7DkK14vtHU7TDScGCfg-1-0

Skilled Labor: An Essential Commodity in Manufacturing

In order to start the production of any kinds of goods or services, you need four essentials – land, labor, capital, and enterprise. Economists refer to these elements as the factors of production. The United States is running out of skilled labor.

Manufacturing built the U.S. economy between 1900 and 1950. In the 1970s however a combination of automation, outsourcing, and cheap imports shrunk the manufacturing sector as companies and colleges cut down heavily on skilled labor training programs.

Read More

Ship Engines are Large, Complex Mechanisms

In Place Machining: A Stitch On Site Saves Money & Time

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

Ship Engines are Large, Complex Mechanisms   

Image Courtesy of BGribnau at http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-250377604/stock-photo-main-engine-of-a-big-ship.html?src=JAEwCYYzpzdRIFWAJjS-zw-1-2    

The Machine Shop at Your Doorstep  

Also known as portable machining, field machining, on site machining, and in situ machining, in place machining is the process of executing machining operations at the location of the workpiece or equipment. Operations are undertaken to produce the part, repair it, or maintain it.

Simply speaking, portable machining brings the machine shop to the workpiece rather than the other way round. And through this, it offers tremendous time and cost savings. The shipbuilding industry was the first to harness the merits of in place machining. Read More

shutterstock-376362088

Select Marine Coatings

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

^ Coating Hulls & Other Marine Assets Slashes Corrosion, Fouling, & Osmotic Blistering

Image Courtesy of DOGMAge at http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-376362088/stock-photo-men-painting-ship-hull.html?src=il7y6vmxdELkQsxf4ffClw-1-0

In the Interest of Healthy Hulls & Marine Assets

Marine coatings save the owners and operators of marine assets such as ships, rigs, marine platforms, and other coastal and marine structures from tons of financial and procedural hassles.

Corrosion, fouling, and osmotic blistering are the chief culprits who conspire to shorten the useful life of marine assets. Their havoc they wreck on ship hulls is far worse.

Read More

Severely Corroded Hull

How Important are Marine Coatings?

By | Article, Technology | No Comments

^ Application of Anti-Fouling Paint on a New Hull
Image Courtesy of Hein Muck at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nordseewerke-Stapelllauf-Frisia-Br%C3%BCssel-Helling.JPG

Prospects for the Marine Coating Industry

Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the marine coatings market to hit $10.4 billion by 2019. The need to protect marine assets over longer durations, continued growth of the oil-gas sector, and enforcement of the IMO ballast tank coating rules will drive this expansion.

Innovation will rise as regulators implement progressively stringent environmental laws and customers demand greener coatings that slash the ecological footprint of ships, the report added. Researchers are focusing more on developing eco-friendly coatings.  Read More