Breaking new ground in operational performance

With regulatory frameworks tightening for the global shipping industry, never before has the pressure been greater to better the operational performance of vessels. We tell you what is being done to improve it.

With regulatory frameworks tightening for the global shipping industry, never before has the pressure been greater to better the operational performance of vessels. We tell you what is being done to improve it.

Operational efficiency is a crucial part of modern shipping. Fuel has always been one of the biggest costs in operating a vessel, and now environmental aspects have begun to play a significant role as well. Regulatory bodies, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Union, are introducing new requirements on emissions, efficiency, and reporting. Shipping companies meanwhile, are struggling to meet the requirements while sailing in a more competitive business landscape. One way to help meet these requirements is by improving operational performance.

There are a lot of different ways to better a vessel’s operational performance, starting with new designs, more efficient equipment, or even changing the operational profile. Wärtsilä has been leading this change. It is now offering a joint solution with Eniram, a Wärtsilä company that deals with vessel performance analytics and operational efficiency tools. An example of a “low hanging fruit” to better performance is optimising the trim of the vessel. Specifically, by using the Wärtsilä Eniram Trim.

“Optimising the vessel trim is nothing new. It’s been done for ages, although the basis for doing it may have been different and the accuracy has been rather weak. But the principle is quite simple; the fore and aft floating angle (trim) of the vessel has an effect on the vessel performance due to hull form, and propulsion efficiency,” says Tero Lahtinen, Product Manager.

“There are many ways of finding the optimum trim for a vessel. Some use tank testing or CFD calculations, but the Wärtsilä Eniram Trim uses actual data from the vessel operations to figure out the optimal trim for any operation condition,” he explains. 

Knowing the optimal trim is one thing but having the tools to use it is another.

To start off, one must have the knowledge of the current trim, which is not static and changes with vessel speed, weather conditions, and even geographical location (shallow waters etc.). This is where Eniram Trim comes in. It uses highly accurate attitude sensors to measure the vessel trim in real time. Several attitude sensors are fitted onto the vessel to help overcome the issues with vessel form change (sagging and hogging). The rule of thumb is one sensor per 100 metres of vessel. For example, a large cruise ship will have at least three sensors.

The result is a dynamic trimming system, in which the actual trim - information rarely available on board - is displayed in relation to the optimum trim for the specific speed and conditions the vessel is in. This gives an accurate system with the best savings.

“It collects data on vessel performance from multiple, different on board systems and combines that with the trim information by using advanced modelling techniques. In a way, you could call it constant model testing, but, with the actual ship and in actual conditions. The inaccuracies in the collected data are overcome with separate modelling for key variables,” says Lahtinen.

“For example,” he continues, “the speed through water (STW) measurement is usually highly inaccurate, for which Eniram has devised a method to calculate an accurate STW, the most accurate on the market, to be honest. This is very important as the vessel performance parameters, not limited to the trim, are always dependent on accurate STW. If there’s any inaccuracies in there, it will be relayed to all performance information. It’s all about getting transparency and spreading knowledge.”

Eniram Trim

Wärtsilä Eniram Trim



An integrated solution for greater efficiency

But, that’s just a part of it. Wärtsilä is now pushing the envelope. It recently integrated Eniram Trim with Wärtsilä NACOS Platinum - its elaborate navigation control system - and tested it aboard a cruise ship called the Costa Atlantica.

“Costa Atlantica already had NACOS Platinum and Eniram Trim installed on it. What we did was install a software update between the two and create a common interface to make the needed trim information available on all the screens. Usually, you have the Eniram screen which is somewhere on the bridge, maybe behind, or directly on the bridge. The value of this integration is user-friendliness and visibility,” says Eric Paul, Segment Leader - Cruise and Ferry, Wärtsilä Voyage Solutions.

“If you look at it from the point of view of a cruise-liner, you usually have 11-15 screens on the bridge. Now the crew can have access to the measured and optimum trim data from any of the user interfaces of the Wärtsilä NACOS system,” he adds.

With the integration, Wärtsilä can now explore the various possibilities that analysing the data from such vessels can provide.

Leveraging the power of data

Making sense of large sets of complex data has today become paramount to ship owners and operators with an eye on effective decision-making. For its part, the Eniram Trim platform through the Eniram Insight Factory collects over three billion measurements every day from hundreds of vessels. Its database also has access to over 140,000 sea-days of real-time data.

“There are a lot of companies out there collecting data and mimicking data on a web user interface and we are doing the same thing, but, are also correcting the data, modelling the data, and making the data more accurate and reliable which gives more value to the end user,” explains Lahtinen.

Combined with the data from the NACOS Platinum system, Wärtsilä will soon be able to provide customers with a streamlined source of data that they can use to aid in decision-making.

“By bringing Eniram and NACOS together, our future goal is to provide a single stream of data. In this way we reduce double work, making it easier for the customer to transfer from our cloud to theirs. The future is about lesser platforms, and providing the customer with support in analysing this data as well,” says Paul.

“Why not grab the lowest hanging fruit, but while at it, also harvest a bit more by using the data to your advantage?” adds Lahtinen.

Written by
Kamala Govindan