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The Internet of Things Makes Waves on a Global Maritime Network

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In the maritime industry, communication at sea has lagged far behind the onshore world in terms of connectivity. There is a gap in the wired world. Even as continents have become more connected, the oceans that carry 80% of the world’s traded goods have been an afterthought, with satellite communications bearing the traffic burden and fleet operators paying big money for the pleasure. Now, the barriers to information flow at sea can be addressed by the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things is the collective term for smart devices that can communicate via the internet about their status, which parameters they are running and almost anything else that can be measured by a meter or activated by a solenoid. In maritime, IoT devices can communicate position, telemetry data and device status back to shore for remote monitoring and measurement.

How The Internet of Things (IoT) integrates in the ship to shore network

Even small data transactions can be expensive when they have to be beamed up into orbit and back. That is all set to change: there’s an affordable solution and it comes cloaked in familiar technology, high frequency radio. Telenor Maritime acquired KNL Networks, who built an independent network to do what no one else has been able to. KNL provide global connection between ships and shore with military-grade security.

The result is an end-to-end solution that allows operators to connect with and collect data from instruments, onboard equipment and systems. The data can then be processed, formatted and sent via a revolutionary mesh network to data centers on shore.

Digital Shipping

It doesn’t stop at simply recording instrument readouts, according to Juho Jaakola, Head of Maritime Systems at KNL. Much more is possible, and it’s all part of the process of digitalisation that is sweeping the industry.

“We try to make it as easy and lean a process as possible. We begin with the most important data and start, for example, on monitoring fuel flow instrumentation in real time. Increasingly, this kind of technology becomes an advantage in your operations and by using the data in decision making you can reduce operating costs. Doing that gets you a better position against your competitors, while also ensuring compliance with new regulatory requirements.”

At the heart of this system is the mesh network and flexible capability to gather and process data from vessel infrastructure. Development has greatly improved speed and reliability of data communications over high frequency radio and the result is a secure, two-way connection of up to 10,000 km in range. This Pole-to-Pole connection gives shipowners and operators full visibility and transparency over their operations – for the first time in the history of shipping.

It’s the maritime communications industry game-changer everyone has been waiting for. For systems, telemetry and IoT devices, at least, there’s suddenly no need to integrate into ship’s IT systems and allocate congested satellite capacity to new applications, but a dedicated secure end-to-end channel for business critical data can be established.

Affordable Internet of Things

And there are no capital expenditures involved, either. Telenor’s addition of the revolutionary IoT radio and data network to its existing world-class services is offered as an all-inclusive, per-vessel subscription. The subscription includes hardware and gathering data from onboard systems. Also included are a data package along with updates and maintenance. You can eliminate all upfront costs and data overages. It is flexible enough to start with a single vessel, let it pay for itself and scale-up later across the fleet.

Enabling onboard IoT requires a simple installation that integrates seamlessly with existing systems. Indeed, its genius is that it is device agnostic. It understands all the equipment and systems that are capable of relaying information to it, even if the systems in question are legacy. This means that the solution is future-proof for all equipment onboard.

Open Platform

Imagine the possibilities of an onshore crew, a real-time team that augments the abilities of crew on the bridge with all the data seamlessly, securely shared between ship and shore. That kind of integration, according to KNL’s Jasmin Al Amir, is one of the key advantages to their current client base.

“I think one of the unique selling points is that it is an open platform. We can integrate or take data from any type of onboard machinery. That applies whether it’s legacy machinery or the newest technology and we harmonize the data between vessels enabling ship owners and operators to use comparable data over a fleet of mixed type of vessels.

We’re not manufacturer specific when it comes to, for example, different types of pressure transmitters or anything like that. And we can feed the data into anyone’s software with the best available algorithms to analyse the data – all in standardized ISO format making the solution future proof and easy to adapt to.”

For more information on affordable, low-risk compatible solutions that align instrument, sensor and telemetry data between ship and shore in real-time – or to book a live demo – email maa@telenormaritime.com 

This article originally appeared in Maritime Executive Magazine