What is a smart ship?


The most important things to consider when choosing your CCTV solution for maritime application

Whether constructing a cargo ship, tanker, ferry or cruise ship, the first and foremost priority of any shipyard should always be safety.

Data means a new dawn for the shipping industry. Here’s why.

Life at sea has been a tale of constant innovation. Maritime inventions routinely altered the course of the world – like when the sun compass enabled The Vikings to cross the North Atlantic, or when the steam engine liberated sailors from their total dependence on the wind.

Fast forward to this day and age, where digitalisation seems to be the defining development. Already it’s having a profound impact on the age-old maritime industry, but we’re just getting started. To fully grasp what's on the horizon for the smart ship industry, it can be a good idea to start with the basics.

What do we mean by smart?

A closer look at the term smart

You can consider things or systems smart when they:

  • Connect to the internet or other devices.
  • React to events.
  • Send and/or receive data and commands.

A smart oven not only cooks, it calculates. It keeps an eye on the food thermometer and, via your smartphone, alerts you when it’s time to start setting the table. Plus, the inbuilt camera lets you check on the progress from a distance.

Essential for curbing shipping emissions

If the benefits of the smart kitchen seem a bit trivial, developing the smart shipping industry is without doubt a worthwhile effort. Indeed, IMO’s CO2 emissions reduction targets depend on it. 

Like the smart oven, a smart ship has interconnected systems that can be programmed to run intelligently, and to communicate events of interest. Smart systems on a vessel will do what they’re programmed to do, with a computational swiftness far beyond the ability of human beings.

[Read more]: IMO 2030 – Prepare for a sea of data

Unlike us mortals, computers can account for a wide range of factors, including weather, ocean currents, ballast, wave height and engine data. Each of these affect fuel consumption, so optimising for them – collectively – can yield significant reductions. Sure, a seasoned crew can make a difference manually, for instance by reducing the cruising speed. But there’s only so much you can do from the bridge.

On the bridge of a ship or vessel. A finger is pointing at a nautical chart on a Hatteland Technology navigation monitor. A sonar display is also visible.

Adding to the complexity, more and more ships combine diesel or LNG engines with battery systems. With hybrid engines, optimal efficiency relies on clever power/energy management (PMS/EMS). For that, there’s no way around automation.

Smarter is safer

Aside from fuel economy, there are plenty of other reasons to smarten up the shipping industry. Safety is a big one.

Smart systems enable more secure operations in many ways. For instance, the navigation system (ECDIS) can be instructed to keep the ship out of shallow waters, even accounting for the tidal cycle. And the CCTV system can recognise and alert you of fires, intruders or other unwanted events.

The list goes on. Considering the potential of computing (we’ve only just scratched the surface), it’s probable that shipping eventually will become autonomous altogether.

A black, table-mounted 55 inch monitor with 4K resolution. The unit is produced by Hatteland Technology. It lets you present large amounts of data onto one screen, like nautical chart and sonar data. It is IEC 60945 certified.

Smartness hinges on the infrastructure

Practically every subsystem of a ship can be made smart, opening endless possibilities. Both retrofits and newbuilds can take part.

There’s one prerequisite, though. Just as too heavy a load strains the spine, or rush hour clogs up the underfunded city: You’re only as good as your infrastructure.

Thus, transitioning to a smart ship starts with your hardware. You can expect an exponential increase in data volumes and processing requirements. It follows that ships need continuity and reliability in their data infrastructure and hardware components.


Want to explore the topic further? 

An introduction to computer networks on board ships
Why Panel PCs are perfect for industrial applications 
Prepare for a sea of data




Posted by: Hatteland Technology

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Hatteland Technology is a provider of advanced technology solutions within industrial computing, security & surveillance and industrial networking ranging from standard off-the-shelf products to customized solutions and services. With in-depth industry knowledge of the segments we operate in, we offer specialized, tailored solutions in the design, engineering and manufacture of precision technology, built for tough conditions.