Artificial intelligence (AI) and computer algorithms are likely to play an increasingly significant role in DP system maintenance and operations
Vendors must prepare to seize the opportunities that digitalisation and machine learning offer, according to DNV GL segment director for offshore service vessels Arnstein Eknes. He explained to delegates at the European Dynamic Positioning Conference in London, in February, how offshore vessel owners can make greater use of these technologies.
“Operations have not changed much, but the mission of ships and the support systems that help operators is where we are seeing a revolution,” he said. “It is about connecting everything, all components and systems, on board to be monitored and trended.”
This connectivity will enable internal problems and weaknesses to be identified earlier and before something goes wrong.
AI can help systems run self-diagnostics to identify problems and inconsistencies and detect non-compliance. “Systems could do self-checks and self-validation, so operators can then focus on the reality of the job and prepare for emergencies,” said Mr Eknes.
“Improved connectivity will enable internal problems and weaknesses to be identified earlier and before something goes wrong”
He noted that AI can be used to support DP operators in their operational decision making and to enable more remote support. Information can be fed into digital twins “to forecast what is happening one or two minutes ahead and what happens when weather changes,” said Mr Eknes, explaining this would “provide information to operators upfront before they meet it in reality”.
“When things are connected, this information can be used for more predictive forecasting and [to provide] advice on maintenance,” he continued. Vessel operators may also deploy internet-of-things (IoT) technology to adopt condition-based maintenance strategies, instead of basing them on time periods and estimations.
“We can use models that are recalculated using facts and real sensor data, [making systems] safer and using less resources, while emitting less emissions to produce the same amount of work,” said Mr Eknes.
However, there are challenges that must be addressed to achieve these goals, the key one being the effective exchange of information between all stakeholders, particularly vendors, involved across DP systems. “There are a lot of vendors [who need to] establish these systems, and it depends on the power, function and properties of the ship,” explained Mr Eknes. “If there is a power failure, this can lead to a lack of control. If there is a failure in other parts of the system, then this could mean a failure in the DP.”
A solution to this challenge may involve developing an open platform that can be a collaborative space for vendors to exchange information and agree interfaces. “We want transparency, to establish standards for which information needs to be exchanged with our systems as a precursor for this to work,” said Mr Eknes.
If these information exchange challenges can be overcome, Mr Eknes anticipates a revolution in DP operations and systems.