ABB and University of Oslo (UiO) researchers are making use of advanced statistics to improve shipping operations and safety.
According to Oslo’s statisticians, the trick lies in interpreting large amounts of data that keep streaming in from various sensors in the ship.
“Instead of sending inspectors on board ships, we can rather use statistical methods to monitor all the data for changes, such as when the engine is about to overheat or break down,” says UiO professor and ABB project engineer Morten Stakkeland.
The main goal of the statisticians is to extract and interpret the enormous amount of information that can be collected from large ships.
“The point is to be able to find a pattern in these reports, so that the alarm sounds when something approaches a crisis,” says mathematics professor Ingrid Glad.
A ship’s data primarily comes from the sensors on board. A single ship can have several thousand sensors. Some sensors transmit data every ten seconds.
The large amount of equipment on board a ship also communicates with each other. On large tankers, the instruments send a series of cryptic reports to each other.
None of these reports are standardized. The huge amounts of data are continuously stored on the ship or sent to control centers on shore.
The point is to find something that stands out in the data streams.
“We can then build a statistical model that shows the normal condition and where we can find deviations,” points out Erik Vanem, senior researcher at DNV-GL.
“We might find deviations in only one sensor, or perhaps all the data from all the sensors are within the accepted range, but the correlations between the data are so special that they still trigger an alarm.”
One of the most feared scenarios in the industry is dealing with cracked hulls. Vanem contends that hundreds of sensors can be placed inside the hull to monitor the risk of material failure.
According to Vanem, sensor data is also linked with weather data to calculate the extent of the strain on the hull over time. “If a ship has taken a lot of beating, we can pay extra attention,” he says.
Battery checks can also save shipping companies large sums of money. Electric ships with large batteries must be taken out of operation a whole day for the annual service.
“This is lost uptime. We look at how it is possible to use statistics to evaluate the batteries. This will save shipowners a lot of money,” says Stakkeland.
Image and content: Mali Maedar-Pexels/Apollon-University of Oslo