SAFETY4SEA Conference & Awards
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Big Data or Smart Data? The case of engine performance monitoring


Panos Theodossopoulos, CEO, Propulsion Analytics, gave a presentation entitled “Big Data or Smart Data? The case of engine performance monitoring“  during the 2017 SMART4SEA Conference & Awards, providing his view on the balance between shipping industry needs and technology trends, by focusing on this case. The use of data analytics, physical models and human expertise was presented as the optimum combination in order to achieve useful and actionable results for the ship operator. He commented this approach forms the basis of a new cooperation between the company and the engine developers Winterthur Gas & Diesel, for the development of an on-board system that ensures the engine is running in the most efficient way, minimizes downtime and supports the on-board crew with troubleshooting.

A lot of positive outcomes come when there is a good balance between demand and supply. In particular, the optimum balance is typically when there is a slightly higher demand than supply. Let us take that metaphor and translate it to our industry with respect to vessel operation and technology trends and replace demand by what the industry requires at this stage and also replace supply with what technology trends are actually relevant and available for us. We can then see that, on the one side, we have minimum downtime, reduction of OPEX and compliance which are the essential items for ship operations, whereas, on the other side of the balance, we have the available technology trends, like smart sensors, IoT, advanced TelCo & computing and Big Data analytics. This balance between industry needs and available technology defines what we call ‘Smart Shipping’.

Many experts in the field argue that the smart shipping has actually started and it’s here already. Mr. Martin Stopford from Clarksons, not only says that, but goes on to state that “The focus of smart shipping is not on the design of the ships, it is in the way we use them”. This is not to say that the design is obviously out of the picture, but it’s the operation that we need to actually extend and enhance. Consequently, nowadays, the industry is getting prepared for the long term vision of unmanned ships, however, it is important firstly to focus on what is realistic in the short to mid-term; thus to changes concerning the Engine Monitoring & Control System and the Energy Efficiency System.

The engine monitoring process today includes three steps: on-board data collection, analysis and performance evaluation. The vessel collects data (either manually in logs or online) which are sent to company’s offices for analysis (reference state/ measurements) and then the performance evaluation comes out (diagnostic, prognostics, performance optimization CBM). From the current vessel to offices analysis, we are heading towards a real-time/ on-board era which is achievable through the many new available technologies.  The difference is that the analysis will take place on-board. We are talking about a real time data collection and a real time analysis. If we look into the key ingredients for success to reach that level, we will see three pillars: 1. Data (smart sensors, signal sampling, frequency etc.); 2. Analysis (physical models, big data analytics etc.) and; 3. Human expertise (engine developers, onboard crew, on-shore experts). The cross point between these three pillars is the optimum way to move forward and is the core of our company’s philosophy.

Along these lines, we are happy to announce that we are cooperating with a leading partner in the industry, namely the 2-stroke engine developers WinGD, and developing an Engine Diagnostic System which aims at the following:

  • Downtime is avoided/minimized through prediction of component failure
  • The engine is running in the most efficient way possible
  • Customers are supported for troubleshooting, and
  • Engine developer get feedback from the engine operation

The system collects and analyses engine data to create value resulting in Engine performance optimization; Extension of Time between Overhaul; Troubleshooting; Engine predictive maintenance & CBM; Maintenance & repair planning and Training on the job.

In conclusion, we believe that the smart shipping era is here, so we should all embrace it, but have in mind that we need to walk before we run, meaning to start with realistic goals and make sure that we use the best available technology in the best way. Technology is only an enabler; we must combine technology with physics and human expertise and provide actionable information for the operator and never forget the customer pain points.

Above text is an edited article of Panos Theodossopoulos presentation during the 2017 SMART4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his video presentation by clicking here

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

About Panos Theodossopoulos, PhD, CEO, Propulsion Analytics

Panos is a Founding Partner & the CEO of Propulsion Analytics. He has held several management positions in Sales, Business Development, Services and Marketing, in the ICT sector, both in Greece and abroad. He has served as Director of Public Sector Sales and Director of Technology at Microsoft Hellas, where he worked for eight years and, more recently, he was General Manager of the Cloud Division of SingularLogic and then held the Country Manager in Logicom Solutions in Greece. He holds a M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, Boston, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College, London.


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