Better vessel performance through accurate position data

by 12, Nov, 2021Innovation, Maritime 4.00 comments

Establishing the performance of a vessel over time is one of the major challenges of reducing carbon emissions and increasing fuel efficiency of the global shipping fleet. A key requirement is to digitalise the process by which data can be gathered and used to produce models that enable analysts to better measure and predict vessel behaviour.

Vessel Performance Solutions (VPS) specialises in analysis of performance data from commercial ships, providing decision support related to fuel efficiency. This provides shipowners and operators with insights into their fleet performance without having to install equipment or software or relying on vessel crew to report accurate numbers.

Vessels enrolled in VPS’ VESPER service use AIS data provided by exactEarth to benchmark weather data and produce a more accurate calculation of the environmental conditions during regular reporting periods. The result is precise calculation of fuel consumption during the voyage and greater accuracy of future calculation of future performance predictions.

Founded in 2014 by Jakob Buus Petersen and Kristian Bendix Nielsen, VPS provides analysis of operational vessel data for performance evaluation and energy saving purposes.

The company specialises in benchmarking of vessel performance, retrofit analysis of existing vessels – hydrodynamic optimisation of new ship designs – performance analysis – energy efficiency assessments.

VPS also supports the change management process related to increasing the awareness for shipping companies in areas related to technical management, operations and asset management. Technical and operational assessments as well as fleet benchmarking is performed for shipowners and managers, single vessel operators and pools.

Increasingly stringent regulation, together with market-based measures is forcing behavioural change at shipping companies. Increased transparency on environmental impact and efforts towards carbon emission reductions are pushing owners and operators to better understand their vessels’ performance.

This creates new reporting requirements that cause an additional workload and challenges in data processing and validation for many shipping companies. The physical and mathematical modelling of the behaviour of a vessel in any given seaway or sea state using different short and long‐term physical processes requires intelligent modelling and careful selection of the best possible input parameters.

In merchant shipping, vessel performance data is typically captured by means of the noon report, a static collection of information, based on the measurements of the most important performance parameters gathered daily by the crew.

There is a near-religious discussion about the perceived problems with the noon report, as well as the potential for automated data to enrich it with more reliable third-party information.

The most important parameters are the vessel’s speed, wave and wind climate as well as ocean currents. The noon report suffers from a number of inherent drawbacks and inefficiencies. Apart from the potential of a report being subject to human interpretation, it can by design only provide average values over the reporting period.

The dynamics inside the noon report may include variations in power setting, speed and heading as well as the changing dynamics of the weather over a 24-hour period; elements which cannot be captured by a snapshot approach.

Digitalisation has the potential to improve access to the various data sources that can provide a fuller picture of the vessel’s performance in the most cost‐effective combination. For vessel performance assessment, the availability of high quality AIS data is a big step towards more reliable analysis of noon report data.

To create the high-quality analysis needed for its forecasting models, VPS subscribes to the exactAIS Emerald Service, which was created in response to growing demand for a high-quality, cost effective satellite-based global asset tracking service.

Combining 17 AIS payloads onboard the Low Earth Orbit Iridium NEXT satellite constellation with a global network of terrestrial ground stations, exactAIS Emerald delivers an up-to-date, accurate and global view of the world’s shipping activities.

An average of 160,000 vessels are tracked per day, providing an average of 15 million position reports with an average vessel update rate of less than 30 minutes and less than 10 minutes of coverage gap.

exactAIS Emerald combines a high quality, cost-effective network for global ship tracking information solution, with unprecedented visibility into the global shipping fleet, significantly enhancing vessel detection in dense and remote traffic areas.

VPS uses AIS data points from ExactEarth to benchmark weather data against the noon report, enabling a more precise calculation of actual environmental conditions during the reporting period, so improving quality of its performance predictions.

exactEarth’s AIS data provides sufficient density to gather hindcast weather data at whatever frequency is required, meaning VPS can more accurately model the real effect of weather on vessel performance.

While implementing any solution takes time, using AIS provides a practical means to get to understand vessel performance. Using near-live data on course, heading and speed provides a workable intermediate step to digitalisation without requiring gigabytes of sensor data.

AIS data is also much more accurate than the alternatives – either using the ship’s data auto-logger or the anemometer which measures atmospheric conditions. The quality of AIS data is key in predicting vessel performance going forward. Closer monitoring of the vessel’s actual voyage using AIS further enables VPS to improve the validation of noon reports, showing speed variations and deviations from the planned route.

Access to exactEarth’s AIS data reduces the scatter in VPS predictions and increases trust in the calibrated models it maintains to simulate voyages. Shipowners can maximise operating days and remain within their thresholds for compliance with carbon market measures.

VPO Global is hosting a webinar with exactEarth and VPS on November 19th. Click here to register for it.