The article below is from the DIMECC Publications Series no. 22. Read the full pdf-version here.

When a ship is sailing in the open sea, up until now the transfer of large amounts of data has been difficult and costly, as connections have been dependent on radio waves and satellites.

Bandwidth in radio technology in the open sea is low and satellite connections expensive. Now Meyer’s Turku shipyard has been experimenting with transmitting and storing sensor data using the data transfer solution by the Oulu-based KNL Networks. Data can then be stored into Wapice’s IoT-Ticket storage service from all the seas in the world efficiently and affordable.

Cruise ships manufactured by Meyer include tens of thousands of devices that are used during the ship’s operation. Meyer collects various data from the sensors in the ship’s devices that are related to the ship’s operations and performance. “The idea is to utilise the data collected from the ships in real time or later. It is good to be able to collect usage data and analyse it. In the DIMECC D4V program, we have studied how data can be collected easily, securely and cost-efficiently. Another goal is to create a common point of connection for all who need it, which for its part will significantly improve the safety of ships,” says Kari Sil- lanpää, the director responsible for product development and research at Meyer’s Turku shipyard.

The solution by the Oulu-based KNL Networks allows global communication for ships using digital shortwave radio. The application combines HF radio with new innovations. In the open sea, KNL’s radio solution utilises frequencies from under 30 megahertz all the way to 1.5 megahertz. Low frequencies enable very long connections up to 10,000 kilometers. The idea is to have a network where all users transmit data. In fact, the quality of the network developed by KNL Networks improves with every new user, because it is a so-called MESH network where messages can travel along more than one path, and which also utilises several radio frequencies.

“Each ship creates a new potential point of connection, which improves the reliability of data transfer, while the simultaneous use of several bands improves transfer capacity.” KNL’s solution can connect to another ship within 10,000 kilometers which, while in port or close to the coast, acts as an access point for ships sailing further away from the coast and provides a connection to a 3G/4G network. This allows data transfer from almost every corner of the world – even the polar circles that are outside the range of regular data transfer satellites.

“KNL offers a simple and efficient networking solution: data is transmitted from one ship to another, and from there, to a port and into a cloud. This solution is technically secure and safe in many ways.” Wapice’s IoT-Ticket service stores data into a cloud and the measured data can then, for example, be visualized into a format that is easy to understand and utilise.

“We started experimenting with KNL’s system during the early stage of the D4V program. During the program, the system was developed further and Wapice was added in. Now we are able to collect and transmit data securely from a ship sailing in the open sea to an office. Data collection has been made easy. It does not affect the ship’s operation and it cannot be used to hack into the ship’s systems. In information security-related matters, we have also collaborated with F-Secure.”

Pilot tests have already confirmed the functionality of the system, and Meyer’s office can get real-time data about cruise ships.

“Cruise ships are complex systems, and their energy needs change constantly depending on whether the ship is moving, what sort of environment the ship is moving in and what operations are active on the ship. The data we receive allows us to provide even better services to ensure that ships are running as energy-efficiently as possible.”

Since the environment of a ship is constantly changing dynamically, Meyer uses collected data for simulation models, for the ships’ so-called virtual twins. This provides a more accurate picture of the situation on the ship, and ship operations can be adapted to changing environments in real time.

Sillanpää says that in the future, the goal is to develop data collection and use and the ability to utilise virtual models.  “This way, it is easy for an even larger number of device and system providers – or entirely new operators – to join in and start using the data available, both in their own development work and for providing new services.”

This article is from the DIMECC Publications Series no. 22. Read the full pdf-version here.