The Naval Architect: January 2019
SSB is accessible via the classification society’s My Services portal, hosted on its Veracity data platform, and will replace conventional email and phone-based survey bookings. The system is part of a wider strategy of digitilisation at DNV GL, which, according to Director of Approval in Maritime, Rasmus Stute, “is one large opportunity to increase efficiency when it comes to compliance.”
At a press event held by DNV GL in Hamburg in December, Stute explained SSB as “bringing together machine learning and the survey booking process”. The new system is able to notify shipowners of the best ‘smart survey window’ – the optimal timeframe in which to complete surveys necessary to achieve compliance – therefore reducing downtime. This is underscored with cost model analysis, a feature “often requested by our customers” said Stute, which considers port and surveys fees to suggest the cheapest combination of location and (DNV GL approved) service provider.
Stute pointed out that the system does not wait for shipowners to plan surveys, but rather offers “a proactive notification that we bring forward to our customers in order to notify them when the best window is to carry out a certain number of surveys.” To ensure the smooth completion of these surveys, DNV GL will also create “checklists to send to the crew so they are very well-prepared.”
The Hamburg event also saw DNV GL discuss its use of drones in surveys, particularly of fuel and cargo tanks. 2016 marked the first use of a drone onboard the chemical tanker Apollo, and the class society has since established drone teams in five service hubs (Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Gdynia and Houston).
In tank surveys, drone use eliminates staging cost and damage, replaces the need for rafting, and improves safety as surveyors don’t have to go up high. However, drone surveys are still fairly limited in their scope, requiring the presence of a surveyor, access to tanks, and manual data handling following the survey.
Future possibilities being explored by DNV GL to render drones a more viable solution include virtual reality to allow remote surveyors to ‘see’ through the drone, which could also be piloted remotely or programmed to operate autonomously. Drone-based 3D mapping, coupled with corrosion and crack identification software and machine learning, is also envisaged, allowing the creation of an actionable digital model. At a higher readiness-level is a project to enable drones to perform steel thickness measurements, greatly simplifying this procedure in hard-to-reach areas.