Inmarsat Secures Key Partners for Fleet Xpress Application Development

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December 13, 2017

Ronald Spithout, President of Inmarsat Maritime

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in September between South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries and global communications company Inmarsat Maritime seeking to establish a far-reaching relationship aimed at leveraging the ‘smart ship’ connectivity offered by Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service at the vessel construction stage.

In a second arrangement, Inmarsat and Rolls-Royce have signed a letter of intent envisaging the delivery of vessel energy efficiency optimisation via Fleet Xpress 24/7 using Energy Management 2.0 software from Rolls-Royce Marine.

Both agreements come under what Inmarsat has termed its Certified Application Provider program, or CAP, devised by Inmarsat Maritime to cultivate third party development of the management software that can fully exploit the Fleet Xpress connected platform. Through the CAP program, Inmarsat aims to support and enable products that become part of an eco-system of applications to broaden and enhance services beyond connectivity and enable ‘value-adds’ for end-users.

Stein A. Orø, Vice President Sales, Inmarsat Maritime, has been closely involved in the CAP program and in the work towards securing partners for Inmarsat.

“CAP is part of Inmarsat’s strategy to support the global adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the maritime market using Fleet Xpress,” Orø says. “It offers partners a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that provide application-triggered bandwidth, a managed-cyber security solution and flexible third-party subscriptions onboard Fleet Xpress vessels.

“Applications covering real-time analysis of data for engine monitoring, weather information and fuel consumption rates can deliver real gains in operational efficiency, safety and compliance, IT security and crew welfare,” he adds. “Critically, third parties develop new business and new revenue streams while offering full transparency in their own billing processes.”

Dr. Booki Kim, Director of Central Research Institute, Samsung Heavy Industries & Construction Co, agrees of the potential significance.

“The smart ship of today demands intelligent solutions to cover remote operational management and equipment monitoring, and continuous lifecycle services to extend its life,” he says. “As a global shipbuilder, SHI is partnering with Inmarsat in a mutual growth opportunity to deliver more competitive, next-generation satellite-based vessel operations.”

The strategic agreement envisages the leading South Korean yard installing Inmarsat-approved terminal hardware and offering applications to cover remote machinery diagnostics and CCTV services. Christened ‘Smart Ship’ by SHI, this is an entirely new service through which Samsung envisages owners harvesting data from preinstalled hull-monitors and equipment sensors onboard in real-time, leveraging Fleet Xpress from the moment the ship is delivered.

“The Fleet Xpress service allows SHI to build-in new levels of vessel efficiency,” says Ronald Spithout, President Inmarsat Maritime. “The most forward-looking shipbuilders recognize collaboration as the key to shipping’s exploitation of the Internet of Things. It is also further evidence that Inmarsat and its partners are driving shipping towards value-added applications that will digitalize this industry.”

In its first year of operations, the award-winning Fleet Xpress service attracted commitments from 10,000 existing ships.

Orø says that Samsung Heavy Industries’ allegiance to Fleet Xpress at the newbuilding stage is nonetheless a stand-out achievement. Under its preliminary terms, the shipbuilder is expected to retain remote connections to vessels, while Inmarsat will support SHI’s services through a dedicated CAP subscription.

Orø explains that CAP is flexible enough to allow end-users to choose whether to dedicate part of their bandwidth allocation to specific vessel efficiency measures, or for the app itself to trigger bandwidth ‘dynamically’ for charging per hour.

Furthermore, the span of agreements which CAP can accommodate is demonstrated by the Letter of Intent signed between Inmarsat and Rolls-Royce, which has high-level strategic significance and also promises a more immediate impact. The LOI foresees vessels enabled by Fleet Xpress and equipped with Rolls-Royce Energy Management 2.0 software maximising efficiency in a way that is constantly verifiable within the Inmarsat CAP, connected via Fleet Xpress and hosted on the Inmarsat digital platform.

In one context, the agreement conforms to the EU Monitoring Reporting and Verification and the IMO Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan schemes. Monitoring ship fuel consumption and emissions is now required by law in some areas and is also increasingly used in vessel selection criteria by charterers.

In another context, operating via the Fleet Xpress enablement platform ‘upgrades’ the capabilities of the Rolls-Royce software by making it vessel performance management tool that operates on-demand and in real time.

“Combined Rolls-Royce/Inmarsat technological capabilities will deliver proven energy management software to shipowners with always-on, global reach,” says Orø. “We have been talking with Rolls-Royce for some time and we are very happy to formalize an arrangement bringing together Fleet Xpress with the latest in maritime technology. This is a huge milestone for us and we look forward to real ship installations and publishable studies at a later stage.”

Applicable for all ship types, Rolls-Royce Marine energy management software is used to reduce energy consumption, improve crew awareness of vessel performance and support environmental compliance. With data collected from ship control systems and equipment sensors, Energy Management 2.0 also benchmarks efficiency against historical performance.

Rolls-Royce energy management software quantifies the effects of optimising operational efficiency on costs and the true impact of enhancements as they are phased in. Fleet Xpress always-on connectivity and the potential for app-triggered bandwidth mean that this data can be logged in real time, optimising the verifiable reporting capability already built into Rolls-Royce Energy Management System software.

Orø believes that the agreement with SHI provides a wake-up call for shipbuilders when it comes to vessel connectivity because it shows that forward-looking yards can bring their own technical contribution to the digitalization debate.

Meanwhile, the Rolls-Royce LOI foresees a non-exclusive contractual arrangement that could provide a template for other vendors, he says, especially among marine technology companies offering supporting services based on remote monitoring centers.



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