Remote survey demand grows for LR

by | 14th May 2024 | Shiprepair, Shiprepair & Maintenance - News

Home News Remote survey demand grows for LR

A drone being used during a shipboard survey

Around 30% of all LR surveys are now being carried out remotely

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a huge shift in the attitudes towards remote work, with the capability to conduct remote surveys becoming an essential part of classification services to the maritime industry. Lloyd’s Register (LR) has continued its drive towards this tech-driven future with the opening of a dedicated digital survey centre in Chennai, India. Established late last year, the newly formed Global Digital Survey Centre (GDSC) manages LR’s remote surveys across the Americas, South Asia, Australasia, the Middle East and Singapore.

The GDSC, supported by regional digital survey centres, is considered to be at the forefront of LR’s expansion in terms of remote survey capability. According to Srikanth Saripaka, LR Digital Survey Team leader: Safety remains the number one priority for surveyors, but where appropriate, remote surveys are shown to be just as effective as in-person surveys. The reduction in travel, accompanied by fewer operational disruptions, streamlines the service for shipowners and LR surveyors, offering agility and flexibility for vessels in remote or difficult to access locations.”

Another primary benefit of these more efficient remote surveys is that it allows asset owners and managers to conduct more frequent inspections. This, LR suggests, leads to a more comprehensive understanding of a vessel’s condition and any degradation.

Drones are increasingly being utilised by LR to help to significantly speed up the process of an in-water survey, as part of its remote survey programme. Saripaka says: “Traditionally remote surveys conducted using drones were carried out on fixed offshore assets in remote areas, but now, however, we can use drones to carry out inspections of a vessel’s hull and associated components. These types of surveys are particularly well suited to Azipod-powered vessels without a propeller shaft, which are common in the passenger ship sector.”

LR became one of the first classification societies to accept remote operated vehicle (ROV) inspections for periodical In-Water Survey (IWS) and UWE surveys of commercial passenger vessels with a successful classification survey in Puttgarden, Germany, carried out by Stein Maritime Consulting in 2023 using a Blueye Pro underwater drone.

The Norwegian underwater drone system was able to inspect the vessel’s outer hull and its associated components to verify seaworthiness. As a result of the successful survey, LR awarded an IWS Statement for Passenger Ship Safety Certificate renewal. At the time, Wojtek Nazar, LR’s senior surveyor for Northeast Germany, commented: “Remote surveys allow shipowners and operators to obtain agile certification for their vessels, saving on costs and time. At LR we see a future where these efficient ROV surveys are widely used, alongside the traditional and thorough hull inspections which have been carried out by divers for decades.”

Using the ROV for the in-water survey took just under four hours in this specific example and saved the operator 50% of the survey costs compared to conventional survey methods utilising divers.

Even though the pandemic is now past, LR reports seeing an increase in demand for remote surveys, with a consistent climb in remote survey requests. This reached a peak in January of this year, when 30% of all LR surveys were conducted remotely. Saripaka says: “These more efficient surveys are not just cost effective, but they prioritise safety and help to increase a vessel’s operational efficiency, which can result in significant emissions reductions and compliance with increasingly stringent regulations. There are other factors also contributing to the rise in demand, including the availability of new technologies and live video streaming capabilities. But LR’s dedicated global remote survey teams and the ease of doing business with our responsive and consistent approach, are also contributing positively to this upward trend.”

Saripaka is enthusiastic about the future potential for remote surveys and he and the rest of his GDSC team are working to make the whole process, from booking a remote survey on LR’s Class Direct online portal, to the point where the case is closed, more responsive, consistent, streamlined and efficient.

Moreover, the expectation is that as technology advances so will the scale and scope of LR’s remote survey applications. “Increased connectivity between ship and shore is improving constantly and this opens up further opportunities to expand the remit of remote surveys,” Saripaka says. “Advancement of vessel digitalisation, including more sensors, data transmission, and other digital systems, will further enable our digital class offers.”


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