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Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business

GAC set to extend digital platform to workboat fleets

Fri 06 Jul 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

GAC set to extend digital platform to workboat fleets
Martin Wallgren: GAC will extending an internet of things platform across its fleet

A digital platform will be deployed on offshore support vessels, towage tugs and ships to reduce fuel costs and improve operations

GAC is extending its integrated digital platform across its fleet of workboats, offshore support vessels, towage tugs and ships to improve fuel efficiency and operations. It has already developed a successful and unique digitalisation platform across its logistics and shipping agency businesses. One of GAC’s next tasks is to expand this to its owned, operated and managed fleets.

However, there are technical challenges to overcome, said GAC group chief information officer Martin Wallgren, who is ultimately responsible for the group’s IT systems. He explained to Marine Electronics & Communications that these challenges include the ability of its communications systems on its operated vessels to transfer large volumes of data.

GAC operates a fleet of 14 anchor handling tugs, eight tugs, eight barges, 14 crew vessels and 10 workboats in the Middle East, Caspian, the North Sea and out of Sri Lanka. It supports rig moves, cargo towage, crew supply and goods supply in the offshore oil and gas and marine construction industries.

Extending an internet of things (IoT) platform across this fleet will be a challenge because of the size and diverse operations of these vessels. GAC needs the IoT platform for “calculating engine performance and measuring fuel consumption” said Mr Wallgren. This data can be analysed to reduce fuel and maintenance costs. “This is what we want to achieve,” he said.

The data would be transferred over satellite links or coastal 3G or 4G networks and analysed to produce information for shore managers and vessel masters. “We are investigating what to measure and what we need to maintain, and we will need a platform for analytics,” he said.

When vessels are operating close to shore, data can be transferred over the local mobile phone 3G or 4G networks, “but handling data over these is tough,” said Mr Wallgren. When vessels operate outside this coverage, data transmissions would be over satellites. However, there is not enough space on board some of GAC’s vessels to install the antennas needed for high-bandwidth satellite communications.

“We need to find a way to store data on board and then send the data as packages when these vessels are close to shore”

“There is less communications capacity for large volumes of data transmissions,” said Mr Wallgren. “So, we need to find a way to store data on board and then send the data as packages when these vessels are close to shore.”

GAC also wants to deploy IoT technology on ships on time charter. “We want to get owners to invest in IoT as we need to find a way to implement IoT on ships we do not own,” said Mr Wallgren. If owners are willing to invest in IoT technology, one of the questions to answer is who has the rights to the data.

Cyber security is another issue to overcome and GAC has already implemented several elements for its existing integrated platform including training anyone with access to computers in cyber hygiene. GAC also has protective technology layers such as firewalls, antivirus software, machine learning, data encryption and penetration testing.

GAC’s integrated platform is a value-generating asset that combines an integration engine, a data lake and inhouse developed applications, said Mr Wallgren. It differentiates GAC from its competitors because it generates value by integrating data for clients and providing rapid and automated logistics.


GAC fleet

Type Middle East Caspian North Sea Sri Lanka
Anchor handling tugs 5 3 0 0
AHTS 2 4 0 0
Tugs 8 0 0 0
Landing craft 1 0 0 0
Supply vessel 0 1 0 0
Crew boats 7 0 0 7
Workboats 0 0 6 4
Barges 8 0 0 0
Total 31 8 6 11






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