OCTOPUS-Onboard: Optimizing Seagoing Operations with Software [INTERVIEW]

While in Houston earlier this year, I caught up with Leon Adegeest, a Dutch entrepreneur who, along with his team, developed a particularly useful software program for the maritime and offshore industry called OCTOPUS-Onboard.  His company, Amarcon BV was acquired by ABB in July 2012.

The OCTOPUS-Onboard system is a program that enables bridge watch-standers to continuously monitor, simulate, and forecast ship responses and performance through complex calculations derived from sea state data, weather forecasts, real-time navigation data, the voyage plan, the vessel’s hydrodynamic characteristics, the loading condition and motion sensors.

octopus onboard amarcon abb

It seems easy to get your program confused with weather-routing software, what are the key differences?

The main thing is that we use the weather forecast to generate a motion forecast. The weather forecast takes into account sea conditions such as waves, current and swell, and wind and other weather elements. We combine this data in the OCTOPUS software with a hydrodynamic model of the vessel, so we can generate a motion forecast based on the weather forecast. As you can imagine, a wave has a different impact on each vessel. So when using the OCTOPUS motion forecast, the captain has a far better understanding of the impact of the weather on this vessel.

From an offshore industry perspective, where ships are not necessarily going from point A to point B, how does your program work?

The main thing when using OCTOPUS in an offshore setting is gaining more workability and availability. OCTOPUS system forecasts the vessel responses.

In combination with the operational limits, a 2D operational window is displayed. For each response, it is calculated if the limits are exceeded. The workability is displayed per heading (vertical) and hour’s ahead (horizontal) by combining the responses; the total operational window is available for easy and fast planning.

We can also predict vessels the DP Capability.

This extension within OCTOPUS-Onboard makes it possible to define an optimal operational window during weather-sensitive operations on DP. A forecast is given if the vessel is capable of maintaining her position and heading in changing environmental and weather conditions, hours and days ahead. The DP software calculates an onboard forecast of the mean and slowly varying forces acting on the vessel due to currents, wind and waves.

jumbo javelin heavy lift
Jumbo Javelin is outfitted with the OCTOPUS-onboard program, image: ABB

What are the inputs that are used to create the model of each vessel?

For the production of a hydrodynamic database, a minimum of input data is required:

  • Maximum service speed of the vessel
  • Minimum and maximum draft aft and forward
  • Draft/displacement table

…and at least one of the items below:

Offset table, which contains a minimum of the following:

  • 10 cross-sections of the bow ¼ L
  • 10 cross-sections of the mid-ship ½ L
  • 10 cross-sections of the stern ¼ L

Bonjean table, which contains the minimum of the following:

  • 10 frames of the bow ¼ L
  • 10 frames of the mid-ship ½ L
  • 10 frames of the stern ¼ L

Lines plan, digital or paper, with a resolution, suitable for a minimum of A1 size paper, or 3D-dfx or dwg drawing, with at least 50 frames.

Are there any new developments on the horizon for OCTOPUS?

We are currently getting more and more enquiries for our fuel monitoring solution + RPM advisory. OCTOPUS makes it possible to monitor and give insight to the effect on fuel consumption of a change of speed, heading and trim in a given situation. By comparing monitored results over longer periods, the hull and propeller efficiency can be determined, giving insight in the added resistance to determine the best moment for cleaning and/or re-coating of the hull.

This is all done to make the crew aware with regards to the actual fuel consumption and trends, to display detailed and trend information including current and cumulative fuel consumption per nautical mile, current and cumulative CO2 emission (calculated; not measured). We can deliver KPI reports that are sent to the onshore operations department for information about the performance of the vessel. The following KPI’s are displayed:

  • Speed Over Ground (SOG)
  • Current factor
  • Speed Through Water (STW)
  • Weather factor
  • Performance speed (still water speed)
  • Fuel consumption in MT/day
  • Deviations from the vessel’s warranted speed and consumption
  • Fuel consumption in kg/nmile
  • RPM (average / deviations)

Using the in-service determined speed curves and dynamic characteristics of the vessel in combination with weather forecasts and in-depth knowledge about ship motions in waves, an accurate advice can be given on the RPM, which results in a just-in-time arrival with minimum costs of fuel. The advice is based on the vessel monitored data.