Maritime innovators commit to Fleet Xpress applications

Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter · 15 December 2017


Agreements bringing together new app-based vessel management from two of the biggest names in maritime technology and Inmarsat confirm that shipping’s much-hyped information superhighway is headed in the direction of Fleet Xpress writes Ronald Spithout, President, Inmarsat Maritime.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Samsung Heavy Industries and Inmarsat Maritime in September establishes a far-reaching relationship to leverage the ‘smart ship’ connectivity offered by Fleet Xpress at the vessel construction stage.

In a second arrangement, Inmarsat and Rolls-Royce have signed a letter of intent envisaging the delivery of vessel energy efficiency optimisation via Fleet Xpress 24/7 using Energy Management 2.0 software from Rolls-Royce Marine.

Both agreements come under CAP, the Certified Application Provider programme devised by Inmarsat Maritime to cultivate third party development of the management software that can fully exploit Fleet Xpress connectivity and its unique service enablement platform. They demonstrate that shipping’s leading edge shipbuilders and marine technology brands see the high-speed broadband service as the gateway to the maritime internet.

Through its CAP programme, Inmarsat aims to support and enable products that become part of an eco-system of applications to broaden and enhance services beyond connectivity and enable ‘value-adds’ for end-users.

Stein A. Orø, Vice President Sales, Inmarsat Maritime, has been closely involved in the CAP programme and in the work towards securing partners for Inmarsat. “CAP is part of Inmarsat’s strategy to support the global adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the maritime market using Fleet Xpress,” he says. “It offers partners a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that provide application-triggered bandwidth, a managed-cyber security solution and flexible third-party subscriptions on board Fleet Xpress vessels.

“Applications covering real-time analysis of data for engine monitoring, weather information and fuel consumption rates can deliver real gains in operational efficiency, safety and compliance, IT security and crew welfare,” adds Orø.

“Critically, third parties develop new business and a new revenue streams while offering full transparency in their own billing processes.”

Dr. Booki Kim, Director of Central Research Institute, Samsung Heavy Industries & Construction Co is in no doubt of the agreement’s potential significance. “The smart ship of today demands intelligent solutions to cover remote operational management and equipment monitoring, and continuous lifecycle services to extend its life,” he says. “As a global shipbuilder, SHI is partnering with Inmarsat in a mutual growth opportunity to deliver more competitive, next generation satellite-based vessel operations.”

The agreement is of a strategic nature and envisages the leading South Korean yard installing Inmarsat-approved terminal hardware and offering applications to cover remote machinery diagnostics and CCTV services. Christened ‘Smart Ship’ by SHI, this is an entirely new service through which the yard group envisages owners harvesting data from preinstalled hull-monitors and equipment sensors onboard in real-time, leveraging Fleet Xpress from the moment the ship is delivered.

“The Fleet Xpress service allows SHI to build-in new levels of vessel efficiency,” says Ronald Spithout, President Inmarsat Maritime. “The most forward-looking shipbuilders recognise collaboration as the key to shipping’s exploitation of the Internet of Things. It is also further evidence that Inmarsat and its partners are driving shipping towards value-added applications that will digitalise this industry.”

Fleet Xpress attracted commitments from 10,000 existing ships in its first year of operations. In 2017, the service drew significant accolades, winning the Smart4Sea Excellent Award for technological excellence in smart shipping and the Seatrade Award 2017 for Digital Technology.

Orø says that Samsung Heavy Industries’ allegiance to Fleet Xpress at the newbuilding stage is nonetheless a stand-out achievement. Under its preliminary terms, the shipbuilder is expected to retain remote connections to vessels, while Inmarsat will support SHI’s services through a dedicated CAP subscription.

Orø explains that CAP is flexible enough to allow end-users to choose whether to dedicate part of their bandwidth allocation to specific vessel efficiency measures, or for the app itself to trigger bandwidth 'dynamically' for charging per hour.

Furthermore, the span of agreements which CAP can accommodate is demonstrated by the Letter of Intent signed between Inmarsat and Rolls-Royce, which has high level strategic significance but also promises a more immediate impact. The LOI foresees vessels enabled by Fleet Xpress and equipped with Rolls-Royce Energy Management 2.0 software maximising efficiency in a way that is constantly verifiable within the Inmarsat CAP, connected via Fleet Xpress and hosted on the Inmarsat digital platform.

In one context, the agreement conforms to the EU Monitoring Reporting and Verification and the IMO Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan schemes. Monitoring ship fuel consumption and emissions is now required by law in some areas and is also increasingly used in vessel selection criteria by charterers.

In another context, operating via the Fleet Xpress enablement platform ‘upgrades’ the capabilities of the Rolls-Royce software by making it vessel performance management tool that operates on-demand and in real time.

“Combined Rolls-Royce/Inmarsat technological capabilities will deliver proven energy management software to shipowners with always-on, global reach,” says Orø. “We have been talking with Rolls-Royce for some time and we are very happy to formalize an arrangement bringing together Fleet Xpress with the latest in maritime technology. This is a huge milestone for us and we look forward to real ship installations and publishable studies at a later stage.”

Applicable for all ship types, Rolls-Royce Marine energy management software is used to reduce energy consumption, improve crew awareness of vessel performance and support environmental compliance. With data collected from ship control systems and equipment sensors, Energy Management 2.0 also benchmarks efficiency against historical performance.

Rolls-Royce energy management software quantifies the effects of optimising operational efficiency on costs and the true impact of enhancements as they are phased in. Fleet Xpress always-on connectivity and the potential for app-triggered bandwidth mean that this data can be logged in real time, optimising the verifiable reporting capability already built in to Rolls-Royce Energy Management System software.

Orø believes that the agreement with SHI provides a wake-up call for shipbuilders when it comes to vessel connectivity, because it shows that forward-looking yards can bring their own technical contribution to the digitalisation debate.

Meanwhile, the Rolls-Royce LOI foresees a non-exclusive contractual arrangement that could provide a template for other vendors, he says, especially among marine technology companies offering supporting services based on remote monitoring centres

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