Remote diagnostics: fresh push for the digital shift in shipping

Remote diagnostics: fresh push for the digital shift in shipping

The increase in demand for smart asset management services during the first half of 2020 is creating momentum for remote diagnostic services to support systems at sea.

Stian Braastad, Global Lead for Smart Asset Management, Digital Services at ABB Marine & Ports, says he has been experiencing unprecedented levels of service enquiries and uptake during the past few months, with remote monitoring and diagnostics providing a special focus for ship operators.

“Covid-19 has led to a surge in demand for digital maritime technology,” he says. “Our remote support systems have been operating effectively for years and we were already ahead of the game with remote monitoring and eight ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations Centers around the world providing 24/7 support to our customers. But the pandemic has demonstrated the true value of today’s remote monitoring and cloud-based data management systems, with scope to streamline maintenance, cut costs, support decision-making and ensure the best through-life asset care.

“Some of our new clients were perfectly fine with long-established systems. But when ship operations were disrupted by grounded flights and closed borders, they quickly realized that remote services were essential to keep their ships running. Our ABB Ability™ Remote Diagnostic Service for Marine ensures that data in the cloud is available both to ships’ crews and to personnel ashore and this was as close to an onsite meeting as possible.”

Stian’s colleagues add that latest surge should be seen as fresh push for a digital shift that has already been underway for some time.

Piotr Bialek, Global Solutions Manager, Digital Services, ABB Marine & Ports, says that recent pandemic-related logistics challenges have highlighted the clear cost savings and likely returns on investment from Smart Asset Management to a new group of customers.

“We can reassure them and provide the answers straight away,” says Piotr. “Our digital portfolio is designed to reinforce the monitoring and maintenance of assets while, at the same time, optimizing day-to-day operations. This can lead to longer times between equipment overhauls. The ABB Ability™ Remote Diagnostic Service for Marine, for example, is capable of reading data from a wide range of ABB devices, creating a holistic view over a vessel’s entire powertrain. The results are clear: increased uptime, lower service costs, and 24/7 access to our technical support engineers and the global network of round-the-clock ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations Centers.”

Piotr believes that heightened interest in digital technologies will continue for the years to come because shipowners and operators will be looking for every opportunity to cut operating costs.

“We saw this after the oil price crash in 2014 and I expect the same in the time to come,” he says. “The benefits of having a stable and efficient remote diagnostic service are clear. Online systems for trouble-shooting, commissioning and surveying will be key drivers in promoting further interest in products like the ones we offer through Smart Asset Management.”

From the level of new sales enquiries, it is clear that new potential customers are also moving towards remote service solutions, according to Jarkko Tiainen, Sales Director, Digital Services.

“A frequent question is: ‘Can you ensure my asset’s operational capability remotely?’ and the answer is: ‘Yes. We can.’ This results in financial savings and, during the outbreak, it’s safeguarding both the operator’s crew as well as ABB engineers as service can be executed remotely.”

Jarkko explains that the company’s Remote Diagnostic Service is both proactive and reactive. In other words, ABB’s experts may pick up an anomaly in the condition-monitoring process; or an engineer aboard ship may seek advice on a specific issue.

He gives the example of an ABB duty engineer in an ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations Center who picked up a critical trip notification from a tanker. The engineer analyzed the data, contacted the ship, informed staff that the data pointed to a faulty power supply and provided troubleshooting instructions. The crew found the faulty power supply in an inverter unit and replaced it with a spare. There was no interruption to the ship’s operation, no time lost and no expense incurred.

“Ultimately, through partnering with ABB in remote diagnostics and condition monitoring, we aim to reduce our customers’ total cost of asset ownership by 30 percent through lifecycle maintenance,” he concludes.

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