Saving ship owners money with Remote Monitoring
By: Paul Frank, Global Services Manager, Imtech Marine
& Rob Verkuil, General Manager Connectivity, Imtech Marine,
As vessels become more like a floating office, Imtech Marine is one of the pioneers of remote monitoring and maintenance; an increasing trend and one that is leading to significant cost savings for ship owners.
With growing demand for round-the-clock communications, Imtech Marine was one of the first companies to offer complete connectivity packages using VSAT technology. And technology has moved on so quickly that it is now possible for highly skilled Imtech engineers to repair any potential problems by remotely monitoring the system.
Paul Frank, Imtech Marine Global Services Manager comments: 'Imtech can continually monitor a vessel’s VSAT equipment, airtime, connectivity etc, wherever the vessel is in the world.'
Rob Verkuil, Imtech Marine General Manager Connectivity, adds: 'We have all the tools to check the systems. We can monitor the VSAT system and proactively check connections with the vessel. Then if we see a potential issue we can inform the Captain and the ship owner before they have even realised the problem onboard.'
'Then we have highly educated, trained engineers who can fix the problem by going into the system from their office.'
As well as more than 70 offices worldwide, Imtech Marine has three VSAT service centres in Houston, Singapore and Rotterdam that continually monitor communications equipment.
'We operate a global service 24/7; so ship owners can avoid any downtime. Actually we have a worldwide service but a local one at the same time,' says Mr Verkuil.
'Being able to sort problems out remotely is very important to improve the uptime of vessels and the fact that Imtech does this proactively, rather than waiting to hear from those onboard, helps avoid costly delays when waiting to get things fixed,' stresses Mr Frank.
For instance, he explains, if Imtech can see that there is a problem with a satellite-link it can warn vessels that their equipment may not work for a time or if a so-called sun outage occurs Imtech can alert the crew that the communications equipment will be affected.
And of course, if there is a problem on board an Imtech Marine engineer can intervene and reconfigure the system. 'Imagine if a ship develops a problem with its communication equipment between Rotterdam and Singapore and is not due to make other port calls, then equipment could be out of action for two weeks or more,' says Mr Verkuil.
Ship owners would have to go to the expense of either flying out an engineer to sort out the problem or hire a local company the next time they are in port, all of which sees costs mount. It is also highly inconvenient because more and more information is shared between ship and shore.
'By remote monitoring they don’t have to wait for the next port call or divert, we can repair the system mid-ocean by accessing the IT system and doing the necessary repairs straight away. Ultimately this saves money and reduces the Total Cost of Ownership.'
In addition, Imtech Marine can maintain the system remotely, also giving more uptime.
With our remote monitoring solution we are able to monitor the IT network by a connectivity solution like VSAT or FleetBroadband. With the solution we have remote access to onsite troubleshouting applications and can recover from config and option file errors. We can monitor and change settings on the shipboard networks like routers, switches, firewalls and servers that are critical to daily operations.
Imtech Marine believes remote monitoring technology will eventually extend to all the other equipment such as radars and engines. 'Everything is starting to have IT connections. Most engine manufacturers already have IT support which is accessible ashore.'
'In the future, one engineer could monitor a fleet of say, six workboats for instance and repair problems remotely rather than having one engineer per vessel,' Mr Verkuil points out. At the same time, this would also solve part of the problem faced by the industry of a 'greying workforce', where qualified engineers are becoming a lot harder to find.
'Essentially remote monitoring and maintenance helps save the ship owner money which is vital, particularly in today’s challenging market.'