The shipping industry's business has, over the last few years, received high exposure. In most ways this is positive, but unfortunately much of the attention has focused on accidents and environmental damage. Shipping needs to further improve the way it operates in terms of pollution control, redundancy and fool-proof mechanisms and procedures. Increasingly, the layout of the ship and components must address the Human-Machine Interface, ensuring that crews can cope in the most extreme conditions, under increasing time pressure and whatever the congestion.
Globalisation and the concomitant increase in world trade leads to increasing congestion. Also, the increase in international terrorism has put more attention on the movement of dangerous persons and materials. Thus ships are increasingly being monitored and controlled and the crew needs to send a steadily increasing number of reports and data to various shore authorities. Measures to reduce the administrative burden and free resources to do more operative work are urgently needed. This includes automatic reporting systems as well as decision support for compliance with new rules and regulations.
Developments, particularly within the areas of information technology and communication, make an increasingly stronger impact also on shipping. The strategic exploitation of information technology concerns not only the ship and the communication between the ship and shore - there are also requirements of integration of knowledge to an extent hitherto unseen.
The rapid development of satellite communication and the Internet have provided the means by which data can be gathered instantaneously and in large amounts. However, data is not knowledge, it is only the prerequisite for knowledge. Knowledge results from analysing the data and processing it intelligently so that it can be acted upon either in an automatic fashion or by humans which are either acting in isolation or in an integrated (though possibly geographically fragmented) group.
The vision of FLAGSHIP was to create the mechanism by which the expertise of all the required actors can be brought together in real time, independently of their location, and given to the right people, in the right format, at the right time and incorporating the highest level of knowledge, so that they can better manage all the questions which confront a ship operator. Issues relating to the ship itself and its equipment (e.g. hull monitoring, equipment diagnostics, maintenance planning), its day-to-day operation (e.g. navigation, cargo, rule compliance) as well as emergencies and other exceptional situations (collision, fire, etc.)
Research and technical development activities were organised into four work packages (A to D). Other work packages will demonstrate the results on three different vessel categories and carry out training of users.
WP A. Technical operations and technical management: The focus of this work package is on the ship and the ship's equipment. Emphasis is on early detection of problems, efficient diagnosis and timely repair; also on long-term efficiency and savings by optimised monitoring and maintenance.
WP B. Nautical operation and support: Improved day-to-day ship operation on ship and in shore office is a priority. Emphasis is on improvement of safety and efficiency in light of more complex tasks and changes in crew responsibilities and composition.
WP C. Emergency management: Improved emergency management tools both onboard and ashore. Prognosis and consequence assessment for alternative actions, as well as on-board and on-shore simulator systems to prepare for a given action.
WP D. Support actions: This covers: ICT infrastructure; Health and Safety, Organisation & Processes, and Incentives & Controls.
- Monitoring systems for real-time assessment of hulls will extend the life of the existing fleet of Tankers and Bulk Carriers by up to 5 years.
- Monitoring tools for fuel efficiency indicators shall assist ship owners to improve energy efficiency by up to 10%.
- The decision support frame will reduce the time for a user's decision by a factor of 2 compared to present bridge installations.
- A factor 2 improvement will also show up in support systems for nautical operations, and in particular in increased awareness of the navigation scenario, increased safety of nautical decisions and in the increased speed of nautical decisions.
- Alarm filtering will reduce bridge alarms in a given scenario (breakdown in auxiliary systems) by 80% and in the general operational scenario by 20%.
- Support systems for rule compliance will improve the speed of text look up with at least a factor 2 while also improving the quality of the search.
- Scheduling and repositioning of empties will distribute the load more evenly along the day, cutting average waiting time by about 26% and therefore reducing queues and speeding up the containership's operations.
- A prognosis and assessment tool for emergency management will demonstrate 2 to 10 times improvements in prognosis generation speeds and result reliability in fire and smoke propagation, hull damage and flooding.