Transparent, real-time data key to sustainable operations

Fully exploring the potential of efficiency gains through proven data-driven vessel performance management is key to sustainable operations, meeting regulations and will be a principal requirement for ships of the future, argue industry experts.

Few in the industry would disagree that making shipping more sustainable is an issue that needs to be further addressed but finding agreement on the right course of action is less straightforward. This was evident at MEPC 80 which took place in London in early July and where industry bodies and the IMO thrashed out a more ambitious target for reductions.

Following MEPC 80, the revised IMO GHG Strategy includes an enhanced common ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050, a commitment to ensure an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, as well as indicative checkpoints for 2030 and 2040. However, the changing regulations, technologies and solutions are leaving many stakeholders confused and uncertain about what the future will bring. 

“The industry in general is becoming more complex and challenging with stakeholders like charterers, banks and insurers all pushing for more efficiency and transparency. There are also regulatory challenges for the industry, including the IMO’s EEXI and CII, mandatory since January, with grade reports due in early 2024. Many are unsure about the outcome of the regulations, but most agree that there is a need for continued industry dialogue, knowledge sharing and collaboration if shipping is to be more sustainable,” said Morten Sten Johansen, Jotun’s global marketing director, hull performance category.

“There is a need for continued industry dialogue, knowledge sharing and collaboration if shipping is to be more sustainable,” - Morten Sten Johansen, Jotun’s global marketing director, hull performance category. Seen here with Semcon’s Geir Axel Oftedahl who was awarded the HullPic Hero Award for his proactive role in establishing the HullPIC community and its work to advance hull performance management.

New levels of scrutiny

“The IMO energy efficiency requirements, EU ETS, and market measures are bringing new levels of scrutiny to monitoring performance, including hull performance management, but it’s far from simple. Key themes this year are the use of systems for faster, better predictions on performance and that keeping the hull clean is one of the most cost-effective and impactful ways to improve ship efficiency. There is tangible progress being made but transparent, accurate data is key to making informed decisions that actually reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and demonstrate compliance to all stakeholders,” said DNV senior project manager Volker Bertram in the lead up to the three-day conference held in Pontignano, Italy.

This year the annual sister conferences HullPIC and PortPIC were merged and included presentations and insights from leading experts and practitioners from across the shipping spectrum.

The first day covered a broad range of subjects, including data and performance management. Falko Fritz (Albis Marine Performance) gave an insightful presentation titled ‘Data recording on board – are we getting it wrong from the start?’ After highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of manual versus automatic recording, Fritz recommended a mixed strategy. “Different tasks require different solutions. The use of high frequency sensor data only where required and improving the noon report data quality for everything else, is often a more sustainable approach to vessel performance management than trying to replace all manual data entries with sensors.”

Carsten Manniche (Navigator Gas) demonstrated the value of autolog performance monitoring for an owner. “The EEOI development seen over the past seven years clearly demonstrates the potential efficiency gains compared with annual market rates. We also see the need for high frequency data supporting efforts towards the maritime GHG emission limiting efficiency targets in 2030 via the CII, as well as the forthcoming EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) from 2024.”

Manolis Levantis (Jotun) gave a presentation titled ‘Fouling prediction for improving hull performance – is it possible?’ and highlighted the benefits of fouling prediction through case examples using a machine learning approach. Levantis firmly believes this approach has “huge potential to achieve cleaner shipping by accurately predicting the condition of the hull and support vessel operators in planning inspection and hull cleaning in the most efficient way. Also, just knowing the optimum cleaning intervals can have a major impact on an operator’s bottom line.”

Attendees also benefitted from a wide overview of presentations covering new performance models by Naoto Sogihara (NMRI) and Malte Mittendorf (DTU), with the latter addressing hull and propeller performance decomposition via an adaptive machine learning framework.

Biofouling management and hull cleaning to the fore

The subject of hull cleaning was also addressed by Irene Tvedten (Bellona) whose presentation highlighted ‘the recent and important steps towards harmonized regulations on hull cleaning seen through the lens of the Clean Hull Initiative. She believes the IMO’s revised guidelines on biofouling management “provide important definitions, clarifications and recommendations that are actionable”. She also gave an update on the ongoing development of the ISO standard for in-water cleaning which will be aligned with the IMO guidelines. The plan is to submit a Working Draft to ISO later this month. “It has been a very important year in terms of biofouling management internationally, and the developments in the IMO and the ISO are important new steps towards harmonized regulations of hull cleaning.”

“Performance monitoring is maturing, and there’s a lot of interest being shown in hull performance management as a contributory element to fuel and emissions reduction and avoidance of spreading invasive aquatic species. This is not surprising since poor hull and propeller management accounts for around 10% of the world’s fleet energy cost and corresponding GHG emissions. This points to a considerable improvement potential, and operators can improve their environmental performance significantly if they opt to use proven coating and cleaning technologies, and a standardized approach and data-driven solutions,” said Petter Korslund (Jotun) on the sidelines of the event.

The conference also showcased a number of robotic solutions to deal with hull cleaning and inspections through presentations by Riccardo Caponi (Deep Trekker), Rodion Denisyuk (EyeGauge), Chan-Wook Park (Tas Global), Matan Nice (NakAI), Karl Lander (Armach Robotics) and Thomas Vonach (Subdron).

The third and final day of the conference featured presentations by Sahan Abeysekara (Lloyd’s Register) on ‘testing of in-water hull cleaning equipment, Pernilla Bohn (DHI) ‘evaluating technologies for growth prevention’ and Solène Guéré (SG) who informed the audience about the OpenHull Initiative to develop a cooperative platform for hull data sharing. 

The last presentation at the conference was given by Katelyn Cutler (Transport Canada) who shared the ‘Challenges and opportunities as a regulator when developing Canada’s policy on biofouling and in-water cleaning of vessels.’ Cutler emphasized the importance of demonstrating “international leadership” through actively participating in IMO discussions, and the development of international standards and potential convention. Outreach and education, filling knowledge gaps and developing policy options are also key elements in its “overall approach” to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species from vessel biofouling.

Survey reveals mixed opinions

As is usual for HullPIC, a short survey was carried out by Richard Marioth (Idealship) asking delegates to respond to a number of pertinent questions. Asked to rate the overall impact of CII on the maritime industry, around 70% saw it as positive but far from perfect, 12% saw it as misleading and negative and 18% saw it as very positive because of the need for fast decarbonization.

Another question was ‘when will 95% of shipping companies assess hull performance through auto-logged data?’ Some 42% of delegates suggest in five to ten years’ time while 33% were more pessimistic saying in over 10 years or never. Slightly less than one in four thought the time scale could be two to five years and a very small minority being much more optimistic and saying in one to two years.

More than half (55%) thought it very important to have regular inspection and calibrating processes in place of sensors such as speed logs, shaft torque and fuel consumption for correct hull performance monitoring. Another 40% thought it important to be done on schedule while 4% thought it should be done occasionally.

On hull coatings and cleaning, 46% thought a premium paint and clean on demand was the least expensive antifouling strategy followed by 38% who thought frequent inspection and cleaning the best choice. On a three-year new paint application schedule more than half thought this should be done only on trades with a very high fouling risk. Around one in eight said this should be the default position. 

Aligned regulations are key

The conference ended with a panel discussion moderated by Morten Sten Johansen and Volker Bertram. Panelists Lajos Holmslykke (TORM), Tobias Borgenhov (Wallenius Wilhelmsen), Falko Fritz (Albis MP) and Karl Lander (Armach Robotics) spoke about whether or not the IMO was going too far and offering impractical guidelines and regulations, whether CII was a toothless tiger and who is driving innovation.

On the first point, Lajos Holmslykke said that perspectives differ depending upon stakeholder interests but regulations are necessary as they act as the stick and carrot for future investment in new technologies. Tobias Borgenhov’s view was that his organization “appreciates the intention of regulated shipping, but the effect of the regulations is yet to be seen”. Karl Lander argued the IMO is not going too far. “By implementing incremental guidelines before moving to any mandatory instruments, they are allowing all involved parties to learn and adapt. Falko Fritz described the process as a definite challenge, adding “It’s always a process, though, and the regulations are commonly refined at a later stage. Exceptions are added and there will be transition periods. We need to act quickly to reach the IPCC goals, so I think the IMO’s pace is challenging but appropriate”.

With regard to CII, Holmslykke made the argument that the CII is not perfect, but it is a starting point. He said, “We ask our customers what they think regarding our rating in terms of the CII, and they are keen for us to share the rating because they don’t want to see any D and E grades. Interestingly, when we ask them if they would pay for vessels with better ratings their answer is often no. Recently, however, a few customers have approached us to investigate what options exist”. Borgenhov expressed a similar sentiment and said “In Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the CII has created awareness about energy efficacy across the organization and although CII has its limitations, it has become a sort of KPI measure that everyone can use to contribute to meeting targets on its vessels. Externally, the company is working together with partners and looking at what we can do both from an operational and technical perspective.”

All the panelists agreed that HullPIC was a positive force and that it was good to see the community expanding and interest in the core topic of improving hull performance growing in importance. In total, 117 industry representatives attended the event.

Post-conference Morten Sten Johansen said, “At a time when shipping is under pressure from regulators and stakeholders to enhance efficiencies and operate sustainably, it’s encouraging to see industry professionals coming together to share their experiences and discuss common challenges. Clearly, the active participation and exchange of knowledge and best practice between the delegates underlines the importance of the topic and event itself, and we remain committed to working together to take a proactive role in shaping next generation hull performance management.”

The conference proceedings and papers are shown here.

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