Classification in the digital age

By, Hellenic Shipping News


A new toolbox for remote interaction

The fourth industrial revolution has brought smart systems to the shipping and offshore industries, opening up numerous innovative ways to interact remotely with onboard equipment. Broadband data transmission via satellite and cloud computing along with advanced sensors and continuous monitoring functionality, as well as designed-to-be-verified and verify-on-demand capabilities, offer a wide range of possibilities to streamline and improve the DP verification process and classification. Equipment manufacturers are incorporating hardware and software into their systems that enable system self-verification, automated testing, secure and tamper-proof collection and remote evaluation of verification relevant information, and also remote verification witnessing, says Aleks Karlsen, Senior Principal Specialist – DP Systems at DNV GL – Maritime.

“What makes DP system verification different from other class regimes is that the industry leaders demand that new evidence is created typically every year to verify that the barriers are in place and working,” Karlsen points out. This new evidence needs to be created actively by testing, he adds. Just evaluating some operational data won’t do.

The traditional way of performing verifications involves having surveyors physically present on board, whether it is to conduct tests, trials, audits, and inspections, or for on-site witnessing. These procedures are heavy ‘manual’ in nature and must be executed on a rigid schedule. Checks of DP equipment failure response, performance and condition are not only performed by class but also by other bodies and consultants. Frequently when verification is due to the vessel must interrupt its work routine, and the surveying team must be flown in by helicopter. “This means that the ship must go off-hire for a certain amount of time, and that is costly,” explains Karlsen.

The future toolbox of technologies, methods, and procedures available to class and other verification bodies will incorporate self-verifying systems, automated testing, extended simulation using ‘digital twins’, as well as remote tests and surveys. Traditional on-site checks will still be necessary in the foreseeable future, Karlsen points out, but the need for surveyors to be physically present will be reduced significantly: “It will be possible to perform remote or automated verification routines on a flexible schedule, for example, during waiting times when the vessel is not carrying out any work or is in port. This will minimize disruption of operations and costly downtime.” Automated reporting systems will feed operational and self-verification data, video footage and photos to the classification society to build a ‘body of evidence’ for the assessment of system integrity. “Since the collection of evidence and its analysis will no longer have to occur at the same time and place, verification can be performed at the convenience of the vessel operator,” says Karlsen.

Jan van Tiggelen, Principal Consultant Shipping Advisory at DNV GL – Maritime, stresses that the traditional verification practices will not be abolished and replaced all at once: “DNV GL will phase in the new approach step by step as the toolbox of innovative verification methods and self-verification features integrated in the DP equipment builds up. Our future D-Class will make sure this body of evidence can be trusted.”


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