Big Data on the High Seas: The Future of Shipping

Shipping is ripe for disruption. Centuries of seafaring operational tradition is being re-examined through the lens of data and will bring state-of-the-art information to stakeholders to make the best possible decisions at a moment's notice. The average tanker under full load can consume 250 tons of bunker fuel a day, says OSIsoft Industry Principal for Transportation, a burn rate that can represent 30% to 50% of their operating costs. These challenging factors are one of the reasons global shipping may lose up to $6 billion this year.

“Using data to save 10-20% of fuel cost is a game changer in an industry with high capital and low margins,” he says. “A ship can cost $50 to $150 million and over $1 million a year to operate and maintain.  Some vessels have $1M in spare parts onboard to make sure they don't get stuck out at sea.”

Marine Electronics & Communications published an intriguing story this year on some of the innovations taking place in both the commercial and government sectors for leveraging Big Data to lower the water line for shipping. BAE Systems, for instance, is running tests on a new cloud-based software platform for the British Royal Navy under its Sea-Cores (Ship Energy Assessment Condition Optimisation and Routing Enhancement System) project to use sensor data to improve voyage planning and improve predictive maintenance. Partners include James Fisher, Fugro and OSIsoft. The cloud-based platform will incorporate sensor data regarding voyage data recorders, navigation equipment and engine performance information.

“We are looking at improving vessel efficiency and changing operations, using condition-based maintenance, fuel consumption and emissions data. Around 60 KPIs have been developed,” said BAE Systems platform energy manager Adrian Skidmore. See the diagram for more. 


Kongsberg Maritime is another company on top of this curve with its latest version of Kongsberg Information Management System or K-IMS, which leverages its state-of-the-art applications over the PI System as a platform for operations and collaboration. 

“As others in the industry scramble to take advantage of this digital step change there will be no shortage of applications and IIoT solutions that offer the promise of improvement” says Miller, “Taking the time to build and infrastructure and collaborate with both the on-board and shore-side crew into the digital age is key to success on the high sea”.

You'll see much more from us in transportation in 2017. Stay tuned.