New Worlds on the High Seas
Efficiency, sustainability and safety define the maritime sector in practically every area – only the perspectives are changing due to the use of advanced digital networks. From the shipbuilder through the system integrator up to the ship owner and the classification societies: By attentively listening to these different maritime groups, it quickly becomes apparent that the focus is not only about saving fuel – maritime shipping is currently undergoing major structural changes.
Whoever saves fuel is, without a doubt, acting sustainably. However, in the maritime industry, where this aspect may amount to savings of around one percent through individual measures, it is still a long way from achieving the status of a ‘‘game changer.’’ When the maritime branch discusses automation and digitization, it involves more than a mere savings of one percent. Expectations are much higher for digital solutions related to targeted data collection and data processing for optimizations that are not related to the drivetrain. Low construction numbers and continually rising costs in the transport sector are driving these expectations. Basically, process optimizations over the entire logistics chain can provide encouraging results, primarily through increasing networking in the global container ship routes. Where to apply this type of fine tuning depends on the roles of the participants.
Those designing ship automation systems consistently seek to reduce design and commissioning times in order to finish projects faster Reductions in new construction and renovation times in the shipyards owe a debt to these developments. Consequently, there is an increased demand for subsystems that are commissioned in advance. These can potentially pick up the pace of commissioning; however, only if the interfaces can communicate. And this is the major catch within maritime technology. Participants on panel discussions and in maritime industry conventions are consistently reminded of how much interfaces, communication and data protocols occupy the attention of the electronic firms. Interfaces that have not been previously tested act like sand in a transmission. Every day that does not function smoothly because of this has a noticeable impact through longer commissioning times – and that costs money.
This backdrop explains WAGO’s intensive work in providing a broad basis for the MTP protocol. The ‘‘Module Type Package’’, (MTP) uses the OPC UA language, preferred in maritime applications. It functions like a printer driver by enabling a functional, digital twin of a subsystem to be linked into the ship’s overall automation system. The file includes visualizations, a function description and defined data points.