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Danish project targets enhanced voyage modelling

DenmarkRegular readers of The Naval Architect may recall our previous coverage of ShippingLab, the non-profit Danish initiative that brings together public bodies, learning institutions and private companies on high-level research projects as part  of the country’s Blue Denmark maritime ambitions.


Building upon the earlier success of the similar Blue INNOship project and supported by investment from the Danish Innovation Fund, ShippingLab is focused on creating what it describes as ‘quantifiable value’ in three core technology areas: Autonomy, Decarbonisation and Digital Ship Operations. 


The latter project, or work package, focuses on vessel modelling with the objective of developing more accurate ship models and better estimating the effects the operating environment has on vessel and system performance. In particular, it is concerned with creating tools necessary for Digital Twins that can exploit high frequency data and improve performance prediction while the vessel is at sea. The project has been developing an advanced diagnostics engine that can serve as a decision support tool for both crew and shoreside staff. It is also working on a crew feedback module intended to promote awareness of vessel performance. 

Through detailed analysis of voyages undertaken by the vessels of Danish shipping operators and project partners Torm and J. Lauritzen A/S, it is hoped to identify ways of improving prediction reliability which, despite the progress made in performance monitoring in recent years, remains highly variable.


Meanwhile, academic support comes from the University of Southern Denmark, the Technical University of Denmark and the Svendborg International Maritime Academy (SIMAC). In April, it was announced that container operator Hapag-Lloyd will also be joining the group. 

Leading the task is Vessel Performance Solutions (VPS), a company started in 2014 by naval architects Kristian Bendix Nielsen and Jakob Buus Petersen, former employees of Maersk Maritime Technology. VPS got an early break when it secured funding for Innoplus, a vessel decision support tool that was developed under the Blue INNOShip umbrella. 

“The reason for that was our background at Maersk, and the idea was that competency in vessel performance might be spread out to other Danish shipping companies,” Petersen tells TNA. “We had funding to do development for three years and it was possible for us to hire people and get a program running.


Towards the end of the project the two participating shipping companies [Torm and Lauritzen] were committed to significant fuel savings supported by the software we had developed.” 
Further growth would come when two additional major shipowners became VPS clients within a short time – namely Maersk Tankers and Hapag-Lloyd – so that the company now provides its solutions to around 1,000 vessels and might be considered one of the major players in this field. 

The secret, Petersen believes, is a foundation in the basics: “A lot of people talk about Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) but the core element in our service is the old-fashioned noon report. The fact is that every ship operator has an ongoing noon reporting system because they need this data to monitor the ships and for charter party claims, among other things. We're not saying we don't want to have automatic updates, but it’s something that's enriching our platform with data, not what we're basing our analysis on.” 

That pragmatism extends to focusing on vessel performance, rather than spreading into services such as data performance or notoriously complex areas such as weather routing. “We keep to our core competency; to determine and establish the performance of the vessel. Even with poor data we are able to deliver speed and consumption tables and convey to our clients a fast and efficient overview of not only the individual vessel but converting that to establish KPIs for entire fleet performance.” 


“What we would like is to become a provider of calibrated ship models, with the right speed and consumption. As part of this project we’re trying to make RPM predictions an integrated part of this service, which would take our analysis to a whole new level.” 


For the full article please see the April 2021 edition of The Naval Architect.