Viewpoint by Egil Haugsdal, President Kongsberg Maritime, one of the world’s largest suppliers of advanced electronics to the shipping industry.
What is Kongsberg Maritime’s role in the development of the HullSkater technology?
We have leveraged 70 years of expertise in underwater technology and the experience gained from the development of market leading underwater vehicles with advanced manoeuvring and navigation systems such as HUGIN, HUGIN Superior and Eelume. Through this we enable and are responsible for the robotics industrialisation and manufacturing, as well as global service and support of the HullSkater in operation. We have provided technology and know-how including development of secure remote control, cloud-based data storage, battery technology, acoustics and composite materials.
The HullSkater also uses KONGSBERG’s global communications infrastructure and Kognifai cloud ecosystem, both of which contribute to its ability to abolish significant performance losses caused by fouling and negate the need for waste collection.
Why is this important for Kongsberg Maritime?
It’s exciting to have two global industry leaders joining forces to develop technology for sustainable oceans. When Jotun needed a "reliable technology partner", a partner with experience and knowledge about maritime robotics, underwater sensors, remote operations and a global maritime service network, it was natural for them to look to Kongsberg Maritime, and of course we were keen to be part of such a ground-breaking project.
The HullSkating Solution touches our core technology areas and is perfectly in line with our green shipping strategy, where the majority of solutions from our ‘Full Picture’ portfolio are designed to provide best-in-class operational and efficiency gains. The technology we developed and integrated for the HullSkater is state-of-the-art. It really is a game-changer and will lead to significantly more energy efficient operations and as a result, reduced CO2 emissions.
What have the key challenges been during the development of HullSkater?
We have already found solutions to resolve issues with stability, the quality of the 4G network, reduced visibility – often as little as two or three metres – and navigating on a flat hull bottom. The HullSkater is functioning well, efficiently and safely, and we will continue to develop the product in the future. If customers do encounter any issues, we have resources close by that will react and provide support immediately if needed.
Can the HullSkater technology help address the global biofouling issue?
We believe there is a significant market potential for a product like this. Jotun have departed from the usual approach of coatings manufacturers by not only focusing on the chemistry of the paint, but also on complementary means to maintain consistently clean hulls. Unlike competing solutions, this emphasis on proactive cleaning – which can be activated to combat fouling before it becomes established – represents a real change in the industry and fits perfectly with KONGSBERG’s ambition and commitment to deliver and develop technologies for sustainable oceans.
We’re confident that the partnership between Jotun and Kongsberg Maritime has succeeded in producing a reliable, high performance and sustainable solution for controlling underwater fouling and as a result enabling tangible efficiencies that will help to reduce the impact of shipping on the environment. An extensive trial period has given us a huge amount of data that proves this point.
The HullSkater has already been operational for more than two years. It has been tested for several months on “Ester”, the submerged steel test platform at Kongsberg Maritime Strandpromenaden in Horten. The full technical solution has been around the world many times on two commercial vessels, running missions in more than 30 ports. It has also been used in a port in the south of Spain for two months, running missions on more than 20 vessels. The coming 12 months will be a final verification phase to extend the number of vessels and to finalise the technology for large scale deployment.
Viewpoint by Head of maritime technical advisory and project sponsor Ellen Olsvik and Sarath Raj, principal consultant and project manager at DNV, a global quality assurance and risk management company serving the maritime industry.