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Georgios Teriakidis*: Modern Classification Solutions to Revolutionize Shipping


The digital transformation of assets and information flows is currently one of the greatest changes in shipping, spurring automation of existing processes and functions and positively impacting upon safety and environmental performance.

Ships are becoming sophisticated sensor hubs and data generators, and advances in satellite communications are improving ship connectivity, allowing for a massive increase in the volumes of data transferred at ever-lower cost.
At DNV GL, we are constantly working on developing new solutions to help customers navigate this complex landscape and make the most of new technologies. When our customers interact with classification, they want this to be as simple and efficient as possible. This is why we launched our customer portal My DNV GL, a single access point for all our digital services, with many applications designed to support our customers in areas such as regulatory compliance, cybersecurity preparedness and port state control inspections.
Improved PSC planning
Launched in April 2017, the Port State Control (PSC) Planner is one of this year’s new additions to My DNV GL. This app is designed to help shipowners, managers and operators increase operational efficiency, and provides an overview of vessel or fleetwide PSC performance, which can then be benchmarked against the IACS-classed world fleet. The tool also assists the crew on board by highlighting specific areas to focus on, when preparing for the next inspection.
Another app that has enjoyed success on My DNV GL is DATE (Direct Access to Technical Experts). This service connects customers to one of 400 technical experts worldwide, whenever they have a query. To make DATE even more efficient, DNV GL recently introduced a machine learning tool to the service. The tool searches for key words in a customer enquiry to create a profile for each request, then it sends the request to an appropriate expert. After a piloting phase the machine learning tool went live for all DATE requests at the beginning of May 2017. It has viewed more than 200,000 requests already and is learning continually. In the future, it could even answer simple questions on its own.
Smarter survey booking
Towards the end of the year, DNV GL will also start using intelligent software agents to help customers find the best time and place to book a survey. The introduction of the Simple Survey Booking tool will simplify survey booking, fitting inspections into the customers’ schedule while saving time and costs. Customers will be notified about the best time to order surveys and audits and notified shortly before the due date of the next survey. In addition, the tool proposes the scope of the survey and states how long a survey of this scope would take. A list of approved service suppliers in each port will help operators to find out whether an in-water survey can be performed in a specific port. Finally, DNV GL’s Simple Survey Booking tool will offer up-front cost estimates including travel and overtime charges for survey combinations during any given port stays based on ETA (estimated time of arrival) and ETD (estimated time of departure). Based on automatically calculated cost estimates and the possible scope of the inspection in each port, customers will be able to compare and benchmark various port-stay options. Once the date is set, the tool will attach relevant survey preparation notes to the booking confirmation to help the operator prepare for the inspection.
Globally available certificates
To provide worldwide access to class documentation, DNV GL customers will soon be able to use electronic certificates. Starting in September 2017, DNV GL will introduce electronic certificates for the class and statutory regimes. Accessible from anywhere in the world, electronic certificates will bring many advantages to both DNV GL and its customers. By eliminating paper handling, they will reduce the administrative burden on all stakeholders, and a validation solution will ensure that electronic certificates are just as safe as paper. In addition, electronic certificates are easy and convenient to share. Compiling them in My DNV GL will provide a comprehensive overview of key ship data that cannot get lost and is just a few clicks away. For DNV GL, electronic certificates will help make processes more efficient, and they will provide experts with easy access to certificates when they need to check up on something, be it during a survey or at a customer meeting. Electronic certificates will be rolled out gradually and will be implemented with a vessel’s next annual survey.
Ensuring the cybersecurity of maritime assets
With an increasing number of systems being controlled by software, keeping ships safe extends well beyond ensuring the structural integrity of vessels and their systems. Checking the integrity and resilience of cyber-physical systems also needs to be on the industry’s agenda. Owners and operators are now seriously contemplating third-party verification of their assets’ cyber security, whether during new build construction or for vessels in operation. This is an area where DNV GL foresees increased demand over the next few years as the industry gains awareness of the vulnerabilities and related cyber threats to their business.
DNV GL has published a Recommended Practice (RP) on “Cyber Security Resilience Management” to help the industry address potential cyber hazards. Developed in cooperation with customers, the RP provides guidance on risk assessment, general improvements to cyber security, and the verification of security improvements and management systems. The RP covers some of the most common threats to maritime assets, such as vulnerabilities in the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), the manipulation of AIS tracking data, as well as jamming and spoofing of GPS and other satellite-based tracking systems.
Connecting data sets
At the same time, the emergence of advanced sensor technology and powerful satellite connections, big data and digital twin technologies, means that the maritime industry can collect more data than ever before. To help customers make use of this information and draw insights from previously unconnected data sets, DNV GL recently launched our new industry data platform Veracity. It enables connections between multiple stakeholders and data sets, to create new and innovative solutions. Customers can integrate, secure and quality assure their data, and then offer controlled access to DNV GL or other providers to run analytics on the data. Individual data sets can be enriched with other, industry wide data sets, providing benchmarks, new and deeper insights and analytics.
One area where the maritime industry can benefit from this platform is to allow industry players to document compliance of main onboard machinery and systems through predictive analytics, removing the need for calendar-based inspections. In one of the first pilot projects a drilling operator embarked on a project to explore predictive analytics with a components vendor and an analytics services company. Working with us to see if this approach could gain class approval, an analysis of the data revealed severe quality issues that none of the partners were previously aware of. Once the data was quality assured, machine learning algorithms could be applied to the data with success.
Environmental regulations
On the regulatory side, supporting the industry in preparing for a “big three” of major environmental regulations has been at the top of our agenda at DNV GL. On the global sulphur cap we provide a range of services to help customers choose the right compliance option, ranging from retrofitting scrubbers, exploring alternative propulsion options such as LNG or battery and hybrid solutions and carrying out feasibility studies to help our customers make the best choices for their business. DNV GL has also developed a range of apps and services to help customers prepare for the EU Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (EU MRV) regulation and achieve MRV readiness. The Ballast Water Management Convention is the last of these “big three” regulations. To support owners, we recently published a report on ballast water management to provide guidance on the upcoming regulations and an overview of the different types of systems. In addition, DNV GL has been very active in its role as a US Coast Guard approved testing facility and has been supporting suppliers in applying for type approval from the US Coast Guard.
Modern survey methods
Finally, one of the most important ways we work to keep shipping safe is by conducting annual surveys on all of the vessels in our class. So far this has meant a surveyor needs to crawl and climb to reach every remote corner inside a ship. But new technologies are changing even how DNV GL does this. Already, surveyors have used camera-equipped drones to visually inspect remote spaces on board ships and offshore units, inspecting many areas ranging from tanks and cargo holds to external structures such as jack-up legs. The inspection of such spaces can be both costly and time-consuming, and in some instances, even potentially dangerous. Using drones to visually check the condition of remote structural components can significantly reduce survey times and staging costs, while at the same time improving surveyor safety. DNV GL has built a network of trained drone pilots based in Gdynia, Piraeus, Singapore, Houston and Shanghai. This allows drone survey inspections to be offered from any of these hubs. At the same time, DNV GL is developing guidelines and updating our rule set to reflect the use of remote inspection techniques. Using a drone opens up a lot of new possibilities. In the future, drones could eventually be piloted remotely or even autonomously, meaning the surveyors could work from their desk thousands of miles away from the ship and inspect the vessel in virtual reality.

* Regional Business Development Manager Regional Office South East Europe & Middle East DNV GL Maritime

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