General discussions and measures to make shipping more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient tend to focus on designing and building new ships. At the same time, research on emissions from shipping and the climate targets set for the maritime sector suggest that relying merely on new, efficient ships will not be enough to curb the environmental damage caused by shipping. While blueprints for entirely new kind of ships are already being drawn up, replacing existing fleet takes both time and money – both of which are in short supply given the targets set for the industry. To tackle shipping’s impact on the environment, urgent action is therefore needed to develop, retrofit and decarbonise existing fleets. In EXOPRODIGI, this standpoint is well-recognised and the project partners are committed to explore how digital tools and solutions can be utilised in both new and existing older vessels to make them more eco-efficient.

Digital performance monitoring was one of the topics explored already in ECOPRODIGI project as a way for shipowners to decrease fuel consumption and emissions, prevent engine breakdowns, and reduce maintenance and repair costs without the need to replace old vessels with new ones. Monitoring vessel performance with help of digital tools and solutions which are created for improving and predicting operations makes it possible to capture and analyse real-time operational data from vessels which, in turn, makes it easier to identify potential inefficiencies. These tools and solutions include sensors and flowmeters for data capture from engine and bridge systems, high frequency data logging via IOT (Internet of Things) devices, utilisation of AIS (Automatic Identification System) and weather (hindcast) data, connectivity via 4G or satellite, cloud storage and AI (artificial intelligence) models.

The research and pilot tests in ECOPRODIGI revealed several concrete eco-efficiency benefits that can be achieved by utilising real-time operational data to make optimal decisions when operating vessels. For example, in some cases the pilot tests indicated that based on data and analysis from distinct ship segments, routes and baseline situations, reductions of up to 20% in fuel consumption and emissions can be achieved. The ability to predict engine maintenance needs based on the data available means that breakdowns can be avoided and cost savings achieved. In addition, identifying optimal ballast water levels can reduce energy consumption by up to 15%.

In EXOPRODIGI, the project partners University of Southern Denmark, Island Ferry Secretariat, J. Lauritzen and Danish Maritime continue to build on the findings and work done in ECOPRODIGI. The aim is to enhance the decision support tool piloted in ECOPRODIGI to be more dynamic and to comply better with user needs and in different settings. This will be done by expanding on source data capture, real-time transparency, and additional decision support functionalities so that the tool provides even better support for crew on ships, potentially gaining additional reductions in fuel consumption and emissions. Furthermore, the partners are going to develop a validated engine fuel efficiency monitoring tool to enable crew on vessels to identify and solve engine performance faults onboard via a digital twin, and a real-time updated, visual and transparent user interface without needing onshore connectivity and availability.