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Inmarsat joins maritime digital disruption venture

Tue 04 Apr 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Inmarsat joins maritime digital disruption venture
Inmarsat presented its Global Xpress technology to the Blue Maritime Cluster in Norway

Inmarsat has joined the Blue Maritime Cluster in Norway to study the potential that will arise from the digitalisation of shipping and offshore industries. Together they are studying how digital disruption will transform the traditional maritime industry and open up new opportunities for innovation in shipping and for offshore support vessels.

An element of this arrangement will be reviewing how high throughput satellite communications can enable the further development of remote vessel monitoring and condition-based maintenance strategies.

The Blue Maritime Cluster is based in Norway’s Møre region on the west coast. Its members include leading offshore support vessel operators such as Farstad Shipping, Havila Shipping, Bourbon Offshore Norway and Olympic Shipping. The cluster seeks to consolidate the region as a global hub for safe, sustainable, advanced and smart technology in maritime industries. Many of the cluster’s technology companies are driving innovation in the use of shipboard sensors to monitor and manage equipment remotely. This needs secure and fast connectivity between vessels and the shore.

Inmarsat brings its growing Global Xpress satellite communications services in maritime sectors to this partnership. The constellation network consists of three existing I-5 satellites that use Ka-band for communications with ships and shore. Each satellite has its own teleport and control centre. This network is backed up by Inmarsat’s existing L-band FleetBroadband services from the I-4 satellites. Together these deliver the Fleet Xpress hybrid service to shipping.

The hope on both sides is that the satellite networks will drive innovation in remote monitoring and diagnostics. Inmarsat Maritime vice president for application sales Gert-Jan Panken expects that the partnership with the Blue Maritime Cluster will help make the maritime data revolution a reality. He added: “Now is a critical moment for ship-to-shore connectivity. We are calling for thought leadership and disruption inside the industry, as well as disruption from outside.”

Mr Panken attended a workshop in Ålesund, Norway on 21 March, to outline Inmarsat’s future bandwidth programmes. He wants to encourage third party innovators and technology disrupters from the Møre region to develop applications that can exploit the capability of high speed broadband services.

Fleet Xpress should enable the offshore and shipping industries to become more connected so vessel operators can utilise online applications, embedded software packages and intelligent systems, said Mr Panken. “In Fleet Xpress, we have delivered a platform to create a new ecosystem for maritime solution providers and application developers to build new relationships that can disrupt the maritime industry,” he added.

Blue Maritime Cluster communications manager Frank Støyva Emblem said companies in the Møre region should embrace this new generation connectivity and work collectively with satellite communications providers. He added: “We seek to consolidate our role as a global hub for safe, sustainable, advanced and smart technology.”

The Blue Maritime Cluster combines shipbuilders, shipowners, offshore support vessel operators, universities, machinery suppliers and technology companies in the region. At the end of March its steering committee comprised:

  • Gunnar Hareide – Tafjord Marked chairman of the board
  • Karl Johan Bakken – Farstad Shipping chief executive
  • Helge Gjerde – Rolls Royce Commercial Marine president
  • Gunvor Ulstein – Ulstein Group chief executive
  • Roy Reite – Vard chief executive
  • Ståle Rasmussen – Kleven Maritime group chief executive
  • Karl Inge Rekdal – Sykkylven Stål chief executive
  • Marianne Synnes – rector of Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Njål Sævik – Havila chief executive
  • Odd Tore Finnøy – Brunvoll chief executive
  • Stein Berg Oshaug – Oshaug Metall chief executive

There are around 140 members of the cluster. These include ship designers such as Marin Teknikk and Havyard Group, banks including Nordea Bank and DNB, engine builders such as MAN Diesel Norge, classification society DNV GL, and integrated system providers, such as ABB and Kongsberg Maritime. The Blue Maritime Cluster is also reviewing the new technologies in maritime simulation for training and design studies.

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