Unfavourable macroeconomic conditions have weighed down on marine operators over the last few years. The sector is under significant pressure and today the focus for vessel owners and operators is set firmly on optimising operations and reducing operational costs.

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A new set of technologies, driven by the merging of physical and digital technologies, is transforming the industry, and providing key benefits for vessel owners. GE Marine’s SeaStream Insight, which provides remote monitoring, asset support and predictive analytics, is one pivotal technology that is changing the game here. The technology is being showcased to 1000 customers, developers, media and analysts at GE’s hallmark Industrial Internet event, Minds + Machines. It enables operators to make more informed decisions based on data and can help significantly increase a fleet’s operational efficiency. With this in mind, here I’d like to share three examples of how SeaStream Insight can provide remarkable value to the marine industry.

Providing a holistic overview, empowering operators to make smart decisions

Even before a ship is built, SeaStream Insight can model behaviour based on user and system requirements to build out the blueprint of the entire vessel to predict its operational performance, something unseen elsewhere in the industry. But the tool is not only of huge benefit in the build phase, once the ship is in operation it collects a mass stream of data relating to the condition of individual components from multiple networks. This is then processed and translated into clear, insightful information for vessel operators. This real-time monitoring provides owners with increased situational awareness,helping them to make smart operational decisions, faster.

Moving from planned to conditional based maintenance

SeaStream Insight uses GE’s SmartSignal analytics platform to predict the future condition of a vessel’s assets. It allows companies to monitor vessels in real-time, record and analyse their histories and search for anomalies. It can give early warnings when an asset is exhibiting an off standard behaviour, identifying potential problems before they occur. Therefore ship operators can take action weeks, or even months before a potential failure. This enables them to switch from planned to conditional-based maintenance, reducing downtime and creating potentially significant costs savings.

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Connecting experts from around the world remotely

This access to real-time insight from the vessels enables onshore experts, no matter where they are in the world, to remotely diagnose problems and advise on next steps immediately. In fact, the use of SeaStream Insight is anticipated to help reduce third-party costs associated with repairs, which will bring significant value especially for offshore industry as vessels are often operating in very remote areas.

This approach can not only provide vessel owners with instant access to the knowledge of hundreds of experts globally, but also enable faster recourse analysis.

Use of SeaStream Insight can also help to bring considerable value across the different marine segments including the transport, navy and offshore sectors, which may all face similar overarching issues but crucially, have differing priorities.

Optimizing fuel efficiency for transport vessels

Predictive analytics tools can provide the ability to forecast weather conditions to inform optimum propulsion levels, therefore reducing fuel consumption

Fuel efficiency is crucial for Liquid Natural Gas Carriers (LNGC), containers and cruise vessels, as in some cases fuel costs account for up to 30-50% of total operational expenses. Predictive analytics tools can provide, for example, the ability to forecast weather conditions to inform optimum propulsion levels, therefore reducing fuel consumption. The ability to predict faults before they occur also help deferring maintenance time.

Increasing reliability for navy vessels

Whilst, thankfully, active combat duty is not a regular occurrence for most naval vessels, they must be ready for action at a moment’s notice, so reliability availability and maintainability are vital. Typically, all on-board systems are tested separately, and it is extremely difficult to test them all together until the ship is actually in active operation at sea, which can present a challenge.

As naval vessels have zero tolerance for systems failure, even if they have redundancy built in, the ability to run diagnostics on all on-board equipment before it goes live is crucial.

SeaStream Insight can model behaviors based on user and system requirement documents and build out the blueprint of the entire vessel even before the vessel is built. Through vessel operation modelling, it helps to predict how different assets interact with each other. This modelling provides operational readiness and can give naval commanders increased confidence that their vessels will work at the level required once at sea.

Reducing downtime for offshore vessels

Reducing downtime is of huge importance within the offshore industry. Outages to the “money line” (control centre) that’s tapping into oil and gas reserves account for a large percentage of total downtime. It has low redundancy, meaning a single failure in the chain of equipment can cause non-productive time. What we need is a holistic view of the entire system and the ability to help prevent problems before they strike. SeaStream Insight could help reduce unplanned downtime, increasing customer revenues.

Predictive detection of problems will further help with crew training, cost reduction and ultimately towards de-manning, which address to a global skill shortage in the offshore industry; after all, few vessel operators have access to sufficient qualified engineers to be able to deploy experts in every system aboard every vessel. 

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The digital revolution is upon us. The use of these technologies is radically changing the efficiency of systems and machines, opening up significant opportunities in many sectors. However, increasing a vessel’s operational efficiency is an extremely complex process, which starts at the design phase. GE’s expertise in software solutions is optimised through partnerships with vessel owners and operators from the offset. This industry collaboration will ensure vessel operators are better prepared for the challenges ahead.