Arnout Damen: ‘Small Ship Types Can Be Autonomous in the Near Future’

Damen Shipyards’ vessels are equipped with 10,000 to 15,000 sensors, the data of which the shipbuilder now seeks to use to improve vessel connectivity. Chief Commercial Officer Arnout Damen sees this as a big step towards autonomous shipping.

‘Digitalisation is coming very fast in our industry,’ says Damen. ‘So, everyone is investing in tools and sensors to make all the equipment on board ships much more remote monitored. That will finally lead to autonomous ships. Maybe not all ship types, but at the least the small ship types in the very near future.’

Arnout Damen

IoT Platform

Together with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Damen Shipyards is now working on the development of an integrated Internet of Things (IoT) platform. This platform is to make vessel connectivity happen and bring new uses to the data gathered on board.

Tione Cleophas, Manager Research Damen Shipyards Group says there is a lot of information available from the sensors on board. On touch screens it is possible to ‘see’ inside the tanks: ‘How much fuel is on board, fresh water, oil. But we can also enter the engines where we can see their performance: power, RPM and fuel consumption.’

With the integrated IoT platform, this data can be gathered and analysed. The results of this are significant, offering predictive maintenance, remote services access and savings in fuel consumption. Ultimately, it is also a big step towards realising autonomous ships.

Collaboration and Sharing Knowledge

Through the platform, Damen also seeks to collaborate and share its knowledge with the wider maritime eco-system. It also assists the company in its graduation from shipbuilder to maritime services provider – assisting its clients throughout the entire lifecycle of their vessel, from lead to decommissioning.

Aart Rupert, Chief Information Officer Damen Shipyards states: ‘The goal was to build a platform where we can share information in a collaborative way with our ecosystem. We can collect a lot of data and we can combine that with information from our ERP system or from our engineering platform. We can make our ships smarter and create new business models for Damen.’

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.