AI TECHNOLOGY TO SAVE FUEL ON VESSELS
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an enabling technology which significantly contributes to the management of environmental impacts and climate change. Stena Line as one of the world’s largest ferry operators is expanding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to predict the most fuel-efficient way to operate a vessel. After a successful pilot study regarding the reduced fuel consumption by two to three percent, the Stena Line decided to install Stena Fuel Pilot software on five more vessels. In order to discuss this issue, Marine Innovation magazine has conducted an interview with Mr. Erik Lewenhaupt, the Head of sustainability, Brand & Communication at Stena Line.
Could you please brief us on the application of Stena Fuel Pilot software?
Stena Fuel pilot is a project where the use of Artificial intelligence meets the navigational knowledge and experience of our Senior Masters. Since many years Stena Line has had an ambitious program to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Mainly focusing on technical innovation and upgrades through our 6 person “Energy Savings & Performance team” we have implemented several projects every year – big and small – including frequency-controlled fans, new propellers, bulbs, LED lights and so on. Optimizing speed and schedule has also been an important task for the crew and on-shore personnel. However, following a push into digitalization and transformation in 2015 projects were also initiated to improve efficiency for liner shipping through better use of data. In 2017 the project which is today the Stena Fuel Pilot was launched with Hitachi. Today the system is implemented on four ships and more will be rolled out during 2020. Basically, the system analyses five years of historical data from sensors and flow meters on a ship and specific route. This data is then combined with fresh daily data of weather, currents, depth, schedule, load and trim to suggest and optimal routing and operation to the Master. It is then his/her decision to accept the suggestion or not. The Fuel Pilot suggest route, speed etc. to maximize efficiency on every voyage and the system learns as it generates more experience. Independent tests have shown the system to be able to reduce fuel consumption with approximately 2-3% depending on ship and route. It is likely the system will be commercialized at a later stage.
Your ambitious targets are to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 17.5 percent in 2020 and by 100 percent in 2050 compared to 2010, what measures have you taken to achieve the goals? What are the main challenges ahead of you?
Clime change is real, so we must be committed and dedicated to finding new ways. Our main target is to reduce consumption and/or emission with 2.5% per unit carried every year. That’s an ambitious target which we admittedly have a hard time reaching only by efficiency measures. However also looking at changes in fleet and future fuels options we are optimistic. To date we have tried expanding the use of shore side electricity (today 15 ships can connect to shore) and are very interested in battery hybrids. Today one ship has been converted to a hybrid with a 1MWh battery installation replacing 1-2 auxiliary engines, but intention is to increase battery size for the next installation to be able to replace one main engine and sail a ship through the archipelago into open waters before switching on the main engine. We hope to have a fully electric ship by 2030. We are also evaluating methanol as an alternative fuel. Methanol has similar characteristics as LNG but is liquid and can be produced from a variety of feedstocks. If going forward it can be renewable produced that is a very interesting alternative. Time, cost and technology are always challenging in projects like this, but we take one step at a time and try to do our part.
Stena line is supposed to become world’s first ferry company powered by cognitive computing by 2021. What plans do you have in mind to achieve this goal?
The Stena Fuel Pilot is one example where the system provides a solution, but the human makes the decision. As we move ahead more systems will be launched where more decision making is also taken by the systems to automate processes and speed up our operation. Currently the transformation team consists of about 100 colleagues working in five work streams. The types of talent we recruit now are new to shipping and that we are more competing to technology companies about the right competencies. Ultimately, we need to ensure we optimize our business in port and at sea best possible and take decisions based on data and not guesswork, we believe this will also benefit our customers and make sure we offer a reliable service and great experience.
4) How did you cooperate to develop autonomous smart ships?
We don’t develop autonomous ships but much more prefer to focus on smarter vessels. We believe a ship of the future will be one where the maintenance of engines and ship will be a lot less labor intense and therefore the crew can be reduced. However, we currently see a limited upside with ship with no crew at all and that is not what we are striving for. With the existing technology on-board our ships can navigate by themselves if we wanted them to but there are many other areas of ship operation that cannot be automated at present and our passengers want a human interaction.