The Value of ‘BIg DaTa’ Industry needs to work together to build a common language and collection processes By Howard Fireman, Senior Vice President- Asset Performance Management, ABS
n the information age, “Big Data”—the global accumulation of the information that is captured, communicated, aggregated, stored and analyzed flows from every economy, business sector, organization and user on the planet. For classification societies— the de facto custodians of a wealth of technical information for the merchant fleet—“Big Data” is an unprecedented opportunity to bolster the foundations of sustainable shipping. In their pursuit to help improve safety standards and operating efficiency, classification societies are in the business of providing solutions. The right analytical tools can help unlock the full potential of “Big Data” for owners and operators by enhancing their decisionmaking confidence. A growing daily volume of transactional data is produced by every function of the shipping industry; vessel operators, their management companies and shipyards produce billions of bytes of information about ship performances, fuel consumption, component and vendor performance, maintenance records, seasonal and geographical sailing times and load trends. Solving the administrative and cognitive challenges of analyzing all this data will revolutionize the role of classification societies, allowing them to support more structured business strategies for the shipping industry. The first step, however—and it is not a small step—is for the industry to work together to build a common language and collection processes. Consistent methods of collecting data are the foundation on which any effective monitoring system is built and a 24 MARINE LOG March 2014
prerequisite for quality trend analysis. This in turn can give industry leaders the confidence to make future capital investments in innovative technologies. A good performance-monitoring process helps the operator to establish baselines and, subsequently, uncover trends for key performance indicators. Given the right analysis, this data can produce reasonably accurate performance trends for specific vessel speeds and loading conditions. Higher fuel prices—bunker fuels now represent up to 70% of an owner’s operating costs—and emerging regulations on carbon-related emissions, which can include penalties, have put a global premium on the development of energy-management strategies for fleet owners. New methods of analyzing “Big Data” are supporting the design of hull forms with reduced hydrodynamic resistance, more efficient power generation and propulsion systems, and improved performance of other factors which influence fuel consumption and carbon-related emissions. Improving the energy efficiency of a ship entails obvious tangible benefits such as cost savings and better environmental performance. But because energy efficiency is a key indicator of overall vessel performance, data can also provide insights into the operating health of systems and components. The physical and economic conditions in which commercial ships operate are a moving target, so industry would benefit from a transition away from the reliance on static analysis to more effective fluid models.